When reviewing road games played by Tomlin’s teams versus teams that finished that season with a record of .500 or worse, a pattern does emerge.
You may be surprised at what that pattern shows though.
From 2007 through 2011, Tomlin’s teams were 18-7 in these circumstances.
From 2012 through a partial 2016, Tomlin’s teams are 9-11 in the same.
In 2012, they were 0-4. ~ 2013: 2-3. ~ 2014: 4-2. ~ 2015: 3-1. ~ 2016: 0-1
The entire data table follows:
In home games vs teams that finished .500 or worse, Tomlin’s teams are 34-8; 2007 through now.
Dig down a bit deeper though and you see that; in 2012 they were 4-1, but lost to a bad San Diego team that traveled cross country and also had to go to OT to beat a bad KC team.
In 2013; they went 5-3, but opened the season with home losses to bad TEN & CHI teams and lost to a crappy Miami team in the snow game that Antonio Brown almost won on the last play.
When you combine that with dreadful road performances versus bad teams in those years (2012: 0-4. 2013: 2-3) It’s clear to me where the perception that Tomlin is awful in these games comes from. It’s those two years in particular.
If you throw out 2012 and 2013, Tomlin’s teams are 50-15 in 7-plus seasons of play vs those .500 or worse teams: 25-4(.862) at home and 25-11(.694) on the road.
Let’s compare that to the two other modern era Pittsburgh coaches.
Overall, versus teams that finished .500 or worse, be that home or away: Chuck Noll’s teams were 137-52 (.724). Bill Cowher was 102-39 (.723). Mike Tomlin, even with a couple of really bad years, is 61-26 (.701)
Take that for what it’s worth. I realize that we all have a tendency to criticize any poor performance, but especially those versus poor teams. Further, I do not exempt myself from that proclamation. But when you throw out those outlying years, it doesn’t seem all that bad. In fact, when you keep them in, it isn’t all that bad either.
I know what you’ll tell me now.
“But Ben, Tomlin should do a better job of preparing his team for those road games versus bad teams. It’s those losses that we cannot accept.”
On the road, versus teams that finished .500 or worse:
Chuck Noll: 57-36 (.612)
Bill Cowher: 43-26 (.623)
Mike Tomlin:: 27-18 (.600)
Tomlin compares favorably to two revered Pittsburgh coaches. And, that’s not opinion. It’s simple math.
Photo Credit: Andrew Rush – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Apologies to ProFootballReference.com. The initial version of this article did not credit them as the source for the information used in this article.