The Steelers sit at 5-3 on the season. If you told anyone that before the season, they would likely tell you that Kenny Pickett has leaped, the defense is playing well, and overall, the Steelers are in a good spot. But most of that is not valid, except for Pittsburgh being in a good spot as the 5th seed in the AFC playoff picture. Mike Tomlin has powered his team through close games.
The mostly battered stat of the week is simple. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the Steelers are the 34th team in NFL history to be out-gained by their opponent in each of their first eight games of a season. They are the first to have a winning record through those eight games.
It’s something that makes no sense, but maybe it does. Mike Tomlin and the Steelers are unusually good at winning close games. The wild thing? It’s not a one-year wonder. In those one-score games, Tomlin-led teams win at nearly a 70 percent clip, which is just an unfathomable stat. The Ringer broke down some mid-year awards, and who did they have as Coach of the Year? None other than Tomlin, has yet to see that hardware come through to his accomplishments.
“The only thing the Steelers have going for them lately is that they’re well coached. They aren’t good at scoring more points than the other guys—they have a point differential of minus-30, ninth worst in the league. They aren’t good at getting yards, either,” Benjamin Solak of The Ringer wrote.
“I don’t know whether the Steelers will finish this season with a winning record and a playoff berth (the Steelers, Bengals, and Browns are currently all 5-3, and if the season ended today, each would qualify for the AFC playoffs). But man, if they do, this award must be Tomlin’s.”
It’s a compelling argument. Mike Tomlin is coaching the team at a high level to get to where they are, even if there are flaws. Add onto the fact that there is not another coach that immediately jumps off the page as beating out that job, and if the Steelers do make a push and get into the playoffs, Tomlin may end up winning this award. Consistency aside, none of this will matter if it does lead to some postseason success. Pittsburgh has not seen that occur since 2016. They need to get that turned around, and that could be a monumental task, even if the group is more talented than they were a year ago.