Recently there was a report that some minority owners of the Steelers “intend to lobby owner Art Rooney to fire of Tomlin and to hire a new coach.” This is as likely to happen as me being struck by lightning while fighting a shark and winning the Megamillions lottery. The Steelers are known for their stability, having only 3 coaches in the last 48 years. But should be fired? Should changes be made? I’ll debate this with the smartest person I know: me!
Me: This is silly! You can’t fire a coach that just went 13-3, or one that has never had a losing season in his 10 year tenure as Steelers head coach!
Other Me: Oh really? How many Super Bowls has he won? Just one. This year’s team had the most talent of any team in the league. Antonio Brown is best wide receiver in football. Le’Veon Bell is arguably the best running back in the league. Ben Roethlisberger is a Hall of Fame quarterback and had a great season. Their offensive line was considered one of the best in the league. The defense led the league in sacks. The offense and defense finished top 5 in the league. Yet against Jacksonville, they looked unprepared and confused.
Me: Ok you have a point there, but Jacksonville is really good too! This is the team that destroyed the Steelers 30-9 in the regular season and caused Ben to have the worst game of his career. They have the best rushing attack in the league and the Steelers were vulnerable against the rush, especially after Ryan Shazier got hurt.
Other Me: Yes Jacksonville is good but it sure looked like the Steelers were looking past them. Players were talking about New England, even Tomlin talked about how he wanted to play New England weeks ago! It’s like they just thought they’d make an appearance last Sunday and Jacksonville would just lay down and let the Steelers win. That’s the coach’s fault!
Me: Please, do you really think the Steelers were looking past Jacksonville? Jacksonville gave them their worst defeat of the season! There’s no way they were looking past the Jaguars. They were thinking about the postseason ever since they lost last January in the playoffs.
Other Me: Yeah, they were looking to beat New England. But let’s talk about the real reason Tomlin should be fired – he has no control of the team. This was the most drama-filled season of any team maybe ever. It seemed like every week there was something! There’s always someone on social media doing something stupid, or a player saying something stupid. The team is out of control and that’s all on Tomlin!
Me: First of all, it’s 2018 – you can’t stop people from using social media! Second, Tomlin should be praised for keeping the team together after all the drama! The team could’ve fallen apart so many times – after Le’Veon Bell’s holdout, after the National Anthem controversy, after Antonio Brown’s tantrum, after Martavis Bryant’s trade demands, after the James Harrison fiasco. Tomlin knows that in this age you can’t stop people from using social media but he can still keep the team focused on winning games.
Other Me: Oh, really? He’s way to lenient on the players. It’s as if he lets them do whatever they want with no punishment. Do you see any of the players on the New England Patriots doing that stuff? Nope!
Me: Well the Patriots’ players don’t do that stuff because they’re run by an evil dictator that doesn’t allow them to have fun. I’ll agree that Tomlin needs to have better control of the players but that might be too late. And that’s the heart of the problem – is the the coach’s fault that this group has not been successful or is it the players? Maybe it’s possible that the star of players – Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, etc are just not mature enough to win a championship.
Other Me: Okay well what about the defense? They looked lost and confused against the Jaguars. How can this be in game 17 of a season? What about clock management? In the final minute of the game, it seemed like there was no sense of urgency. What about the confusion at the end of the Patriots game? These are all on the coach.
Me: Let’s face it – the defense was a mess after the Shazier injury. He was the heart and soul of that defense and the play caller. He was maybe the 2nd most valuable player after Ben. As for clock management, that’s always been a criticism of Tomlin but that’s a criticism of a lot of coaches. The Steelers have a lot of problems to fix and we’ll see if they get resolved next season.