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Ex-NFL GM Questions Fruitfulness of Mike Tomlin’s Future

Ex-NFL general manager Doug Whaley has questions about Mike Tomlin and his hiring practices over the last few years.

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Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin at the team's mandatory minicamp, June 11, 2024 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Pittsburgh Steelers extended head coach Mike Tomlin for three more seasons, to the surprise of no one. But not everyone was on board with the move, given Tomlin’s lack of recent playoff success. But why, in the first place, can Tomlin not get the team over the hump in the postseason? Ex-NFL general manager and former Steelers executive Doug Whaley believes it is tied directly to Tomlin’s coaching hires over the last decade.

“I think he’s a heck of a coach. I think the two things that you can have issues with, number one for me is not the playoff record. It’s his hiring practices, how he has hired coaches in the past,” Whaley said on 93.7 the Fan. “There’s only been two, and Bruce Arians was ceremoniously let out of town, that was a head coach. And then Scottie Montgomery went to be the head coach of East Carolina. How do you coach 17 years, not have a losing season, win one Super Bowl, and not have a coaching tree?”

Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Tomlin

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin at the team’s OTAs, June 4, 2024 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Mike Tomlin does not have a coaching tree, which has always been odd. However, much of it is tied to some of the coordinators he has hired over the last few seasons, such as Randy Fichtner and Matt Canada. The lack of success goes deeper than that, but saddling himself with middling offensive coordinators has primarily done him in since Todd Haley left town.

So, Tomlin hopes that the results will be different with Arthur Smith at the helm. He had massive success in Tennessee before being hired as the Atlanta Falcons head coach, where he drew criticism for his play calls and use of stars such as Bijan Robinson and Kyle Pitts. The Steelers will hope that changes, and Tomlin hopes to return to the playoffs and win.