Sports Illustrated has power ranked the NFL head coaches ahead of the 2021 season, and has the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Mike Tomlin as the third-best in the league.
“Tomlin’s strength is his remarkable consistency, which was highlighted during a pandemic year when Pittsburgh managed to win 13 games despite an often chaotic, musical-chairs element to their regular-season schedule,” SI’s Conor Orr writes.
Tomlin has famously never had a losing season with Pittsburgh, but the true test of his coaching abilities is still on the horizon. Orr believe Tomlin is more than ready for the challenge.
“The transition period beyond Ben Roethlisberger will certainly play into Tomlin’s legacy, although his track record as a leader during turbulent times and as a defensive coordinator with a timeless system and keen eye for talent are unmistakable,” Orr writes.
Right or wrong, Tomlin has always been compared to his predecessor Bill Cowher. Such is the case when you are just the third head coach of an organization in nearly half a century.
However unfair the comparison might be, Tomlin may be on the precipice of exceeding Cowher accomplishments in Pittsburgh anyways.
“It is alternately entertaining and frustrating to see some in Pittsburgh compare Tomlin to his predecessor, Bill Cowher, as if Tomlin will never live up to Cowher’s legacy,” Orr writes. “Meanwhile, Tomlin will likely pass Cowher in wins this year with a higher winning percentage. He has coached just five fewer playoff games and is two years younger than when Cowher retired and both have the same number of Super Bowl titles and appearances.”
Since his hiring in 2007, Tomlin has accumulated a 145-78-1 (.650) record in the regular season, which is second-best only to the New England Patriots over that span.
Still, Pittsburgh’s lack of success in the playoffs in recent years is certainly a fair criticism of Tomlin. The Steelers are just 3-6 in the postseason since 2011.
New England’s Bill Belichick and Kansas City’s Andy Reid are the only two coaches ranked ahead of Tomlin.