By HCR Staff | Aug. 29, 2018
Between now and the start of the 2018 season, Head Coach Ranking will provide a scouting report on all 32 NFL head coaches. Today, we’ll take a look at Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
Mike Tomlin is undoubtedly a very, very good head coach. His winning percentage and Super Bowl championship attest to this proposition. The question Steelers fans grapple with is whether he is a great head coach.
The Steelers have, in the eyes of many, the very best ownership in the NFL. The Rooney family is well known for patience, public support and a strong resistance to knee-jerk reactions. No other ownership in the NFL is this stable, and Tomlin is a beneficiary of this.
The Steelers also have one of the very best and most stable GMs in the NFL in Kevin Colbert. He’s going into year 19 with the organization, and over the years he has kept the team well stocked with some of the finest talent in football: perhaps the best WR (Antonio Brown), one of the best guards (David DeCastro), a Hall of Fame QB (Ben Roethlisberger), the best running back (Le’veon Bell) … we could go on and on (e.g., Ryan Shazier was one of the best young linebackers in the game prior to his injury).
Add to this perhaps the best and most knowledgeable fan base in football.
Tomlin really is in head coach heaven. Ownership has his back, the talent cupboard is never bare, and the fans are smart.
All Tomlin has to do is coach.
And he’s coached well, but based on our metrics, perhaps not to the level of the talent available and relative to his peers — at least not last season, when HCR started gathering this data.
Tomlin got the best production out of his team last year — the Steelers ranked No. 1 in our Game Control Index. It was an impressive display on both sides of the ball.
But Tomlin finished just out of the top 10, tied for 11th, in our year-end Head Coach Ranking. We simply saw too many instances of misjudgment.
We can’t shake the end-of-game scenario in their home loss to New England, which decided the AFC’s home-field advantage. In the biggest moment, the Steelers were confused, rattled and unprepared.
We also can’t shake the abysmal home playoff loss to Jacksonville. While we only grade the regular-season games, the lack of defensive in-game adjustments during the loss showed up in the regular-season as well.
The Steelers will perform well again this year — they simply have too much talent and Tomlin will be very, very good. But can he be great? We think so, but it’ll depend on more rigorous decision-making than was shown in 2017.
Previous HC Previews:
Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks
Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams
Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers
Steve Wilks, Arizona Cardinals
Mike McCarthy, Green Bay Packers
Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings
Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions
Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears
Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints
Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons
Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
Jay Gruden, Washington Redskins
Pat Shurmr, New York Giants
Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Doug Pederson, Philadelphia Eagles
Jon Gruden, Oakland Raiders
Vance Joseph, Denver Broncos
Anthony Lynn, Los Angeles Chargers
Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs
John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens
Hue Jackson, Cleveland Browns
Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati Bengals