For some reason in our ‘social media driven’ and ‘one size fits all’ society we’ve lost track of being able to criticize someone without also calling for their head on a stake. In the 24 hours since the Pittsburgh Steelers’ embarrassing loss to Jacksonville there has been no shortage of blame laid on the hands of Mike Tomlin. I am not in any way telling you that you should not be angry with Tomlin because you should, but firing him right now is not the answer.
Tomlin and his coaching staff deserve your anger today. The team was not strategically prepared and of all of the teams playing at home the last two weeks in the postseason, the Steelers came out flatter than any of them. Being prepared as a pro football player is not what being prepared is when you’re in high school or college. It is not the coach’s duty to “motivate you.” That part is on you. Where Tomlin and company failed was game-planning and that is 100% on them and it was evident from the first snap to the last.
The Jaguars’ coaching staff pushed all the right buttons (on offense especially) and completely out-coached Tomlin’s band of merry men. These things happen but they should not happen at home and when you have more talent than your opposition.
Tomlin has always been a poor manager of game situations and that was again on display Sunday. From the onside kick which couldn’t have been more poorly executed to not kicking the field goal in order to save time and give yourself a chance with another onside kick with under a minute to go. We keep waiting for these things to get better but they don’t.
When you look at the career numbers of Mike Tomlin in the regular season you see a more than respectable winning percentage of .659. His playoff record however has now stumbled to 8-7 or a percentage of just .533. “But some teams would kill to have these problems!” Please. This excuse needs to stop. As one former Steeler once said, “I don’t do participation trophies” which to me, AFC North titles and above .500 records are.
That’s where Tomlin is headed. He’s becoming the 1990’s Atlanta Braves of football. Win one title, have tons of talent but just can’t seem to get over the hump and win another. I take no solace in writing that but it’s true.
As you can see, everything I’ve written above is “criticizing Tomlin.” Nowhere however, do you see me calling for his termination. These things can be done together… What I believe is that Tomlin must be allowed to hire his own offensive and defensive coordinators. Both Todd Haley and Keith Butler have done what they could and it’s time for change. Should Tomlin be given that opportunity, then we can start the clock on his tenure as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. If those didn’t work out it would be entirely on him.