The Future of Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers
Much to the chagrin of significant swaths of the Pittsburgh Steelers fanbase, head coach Mike Tomlin is going to retain his role within the organization for quite some time. Losing to the 2-10 New England Patriots in front of a home crowd on Thursday Night Football was a low point of Tomlin’s lengthy tenure at the Pittsburgh helm, especially on the heels of a home loss to a putrid Arizona Cardinals outfit that also entered the night at 2-10.
However, the Steelers are still 7-6, putting them firmly in the mix for one of the AFC’s coveted wild-card berths. More importantly, the organization is sending no signals that Tomlin is on the outs.
No ‘Knee-Jerk Decisions’ Coming for Mike Tomlin
The Pittsburgh Steelers appreciate longevity. Mike Tomlin took the job as head coach back in 2007 and has never submitted a losing record during his 16 completed seasons steering the ship. Before him, Bill Cowher reigned from 1992-2006, and Chuck Noll preceded him from 1969-91. That’s three coaches spanning parts of seven decades—an unprecedented and unmatched level of continuity in a business that rarely honors the full terms of coaching contracts before seeking out newer and shinier options.
And as Diani Russini explained for The Athletic, that’s not changing anytime soon. Pittsburgh owner Art Rooney II doesn’t make knee-jerk decisions regarding his staff, and he has proven to be one of the most loyal owners in sports.
Coaches on the way out don’t typically have the luxury of making such significant and autonomous personnel decisions. But Tomlin isn’t on the way out. His contract runs through the conclusion of the 2024 season, and the Steelers are well aware of how much internal and external sentiments can swing in that timeframe.
Tomlin and the Steelers are Trending in the Wrong Direction
It’s no secret the Steelers aren’t particularly satisfied this season. At 7-6, they’re currently in possession of the second of three wild-card berths in the AFC, but that status is tenuous at best. The Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, and Buffalo Bills all have identical records, and the Steelers have a tough slate of opponents left.
Speculation is Growing About Whether Mike Tomlin Will be Fired
Those who want to see the Steelers fire Mike Tomlin are short-sighted. If they really wanted to move on they can TRADE him. He has value. Retired Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Ed Bouchette argued that the Steelers should look into trading rather than firing Tomlin. However, that couldn’t happen until the offseason, and only seven head coaches have been traded in the last 25 years.
Unlikely as the Steelers might be to cut the cord on the head coach’s contract, going such an unorthodox route feels even more implausible.
Writers across publications, talking heads at a wide variety of platforms, and fans all over the world can make the most compelling arguments imaginable. They have plenty of fodder when putting together their cases, now more than ever after two straight ugly losses.
But Art Rooney II is the man who calls the shots, and nothing indicates he’s ready to hand over the clipboard to anyone else. Adam Fromal is a veteran sports writer covering the NBA and NFL for Heavy.com. Originally from Georgia but now often found climbing Colorado’s highest peaks, Fromal has written extensively about a variety of sports for Bleacher Report, where he spent nearly a decade as a National NBA Featured Columnist, Sportscasting and a number of other publications. He’s worked on an Emmy-nominated web series and fact-checked a New York Times bestseller, and he helps stats tell stories at the analytics-based Sports Math Network.