View Full Version : The Steerler Should Wait a Year on Tomlin

06-14-2010, 03:59 AM
Should the Steelers offer a contract extension to coach Mike Tomlin this summer?

Tomlin has 2 years remaining on his current contract with the Steelers. The Rooneys have made it a regular habit by signing their coaches to extensions when they have two years left on their current deal.

On one hand, it seems like a no-brainer. The Rooneys took a chance on the young coach in 2007, and he won them a ring in just his second year. They certainly didnít plan on getting rid of him after only 1 contract.

It would be difficult for the Rooneyís to explain keeping former head coach Bill Cowher after the non postseason three-year stretch from 1998-2000, yet giving up on Tomlin so soon. After all he led the Steelers to a Super Bowl title in the 2008 season.

Yet, there are reports that indicate no contract discussions are even taking place at a time when they historically work out a new deal with their coach.

In 2007, some speculated that Tomlin would replace defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and change the Steelers defense to a 4-3 base. But that speculation was just wrong. The Steelers didnít hire Tomlin because of the defensive scheme he ran in Minnesota.

They hired Mike Tomlin because they perceived him to be a leader.

Therefore, if Tomlinís future with the team is in doubt in any way, itís because his leadership is being questioned by the ownership.

After all, if the Rooneys felt that the Steelers were being outfoxed on game day, they would have forced a change in coordinators.

Sure, team president Art Rooney II did mention that the Steelers need to run the ball better, but that was just stating the obvious.

Most certainly the player arrests, citations, civil suits, and civil complaints are playing a part in the thinking of the Rooneys. But there is more to it than just those incidents.

The Steelers became only the fourth team since 1980 to lose three consecutive games as double-digit favorites. It makes no difference if they donít cover the large point spread. That has no real bearing on anything. But Itís another thing entirely to lose games outright to NFL doormats.

Here are some career win/loss records for NFL head coaches when their team was listed as favorite of 10 or more points.

Belichick 26-3 (Includes time spent as head coach of Browns)

Cowher 14-4

Jeff fisher 7-0

Bill Cowher only had 4 outright losses when his team was a double digit favorite in his 15 year career as coach of the Steelers.

Tomlin had 3 such losses in about a monthís time last season.

It happened around the time he threatened to unleash hell on a few teams.

When NFL teams lose as such heavy favorites, it speaks to a lack of preparation and focus. When the defending champions allow eight sacks to the Browns in a must win game (with many of them coming unblocked), they just werenít prepared to play a football game.

The Steelers were also outplayed time and again in the 4th quarter of games last year. They simply werenít committed to playing a full 60 minutes of football. It was as if the Steelers felt other teams would simply bow to the defending champions once they got out to a lead.

What was Tomlinís message to his team throughout the weeks when they were such heavy favorites? What is their mindset going into these games?

Itís easy to get up for a game when youíre an underdog. The Steelers love to play the ďus against the world card.Ē But itís not as easy to get up for a game in which everyone expects you to roll over your opponent. The Steelers struggled to gain the proper focus in those types of situations last year. Itís hard to say what Tomlinís message was going into these games.

But perhaps that message needs to change.

The heavily favored Steelers should enter these contests with the thought that they are being ďset up.Ē Nick Saban has used that mental trick on his LSU and Alabama teams in the past to help them avoid a letdown in trap games.

They should expect bad teams to get all of the calls from the officials. They should also expect these teams to not turn the ball over against them. They certainly shouldnít expect bad teams to quit playing hard just because the Steelers take the lead.

These types of messages are sent by the head coach throughout the week of practice in their own little way. But if you watched the Steelers last year, you might get the feeling that Tomlinís team thinks they are the big bad wolf that just needs to show up.

A teamís chemistry is also mightily important. Thatís why a coach cannot allow a high-profile player like Hines Ward to go on national television and call out his quarterback for not playing with a concussion. Had Tomlin communicated to the team that Roethlisberger had experienced exercise-induced headaches, there wouldnít have been a fiasco the following day where Ward had to make a public apology while other teammates were caught in the middle having to defend both players.

Overall, Tomlin has a terrific record as a head coach in his young career, but there is no question that last season he took a step backwards and shown his inexperience. In the end, it might be the right decision for the Steelers to wait a year on Tomlin. More information is needed before he is signed long-term. This is a big year for Tomlin. The feeling here is that he will rise to the occasion. But he has his work cut out for him.