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Mike Tomlin Adopts Key New Changes in Season



Steelers Mike Tomlin
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin at OTAs, May 31, 2023. -- Ed Thompson.

SEATTLE — Mike Tomlin said earlier this season that he would be willing to change. Are we already seeing the first signs of it? Over the last two weeks, Tomlin has taken his coaching mindset to a different place from where it was through the first 15 games of the season.

So, where did this side of Mike Tomlin come from suddenly? Yes, Pittsburgh’s head coach, who by most metrics is one of the more conservative coaches in the NFL, has turned into a gunslinging, analytics-riding guru in the last two weeks. Seriously, there’s a lot to like about the process that Tomlin has made within most of his decisions over the past two weeks. But on Sunday, it was startling to see Tomlin go for it on 4th-and-5 in opponent territory from the jump. When you consider just how much he shelled himself in against the Colts, this is a dramatic change. Pittsburgh consistently went for it when in doubt, and their aggressive style paid dividends.

But it was more than just that. Mason Rudolph said after the game that Tomlin called the critical pass to George Pickens that officially clinched the game for the team. Tomlin’s motto was ‘scared money don’t make money’ and in that area, they saw the single-high coverage coming, and trusted Pickens to win his route.

“There’s probably a lot of quarterbacks that could’ve completed that one,” Rudolph said. “No safety helped. George got the separation. I’m appreciative of that. I think a lot of coaches and a lot of play callers want to be conservative there and just run it out, but we’ve got a very aggressive head coach who, I think made that call at the end of the day, so it paid off. ”

Make no mistake, that play takes some cajones to call. Not only that, it was the same play that Pickens nabbed an 86-yard touchdown on a week ago. That’s going back to the well at the right time and something Tomlin should be commended for over the last two games. If he can do that all season, the Steelers will be in a much better spot.