The Pittsburgh Steelers have been the gold standard of consistency across the NFL for a very long time. They have had just three head coaches since 1969, and that streak now figures to continue until at least 2027 with Mike Tomlin’s most recent contract extension. The results have backed up the strategy, too. They lead the league in wins since 1970 with 514. They are tied for the second-most playoff wins with 36, and they are tied for the most Super Bowl championships with six. But a lot of that seems like ancient history now, with the Steelers having a playoff win drought dating back to the 2016 season.

While Tomlin has kept the team competitive throughout his tenure, there is no doubt that the team’s lack of playoff success needs to be corrected. But should that all fall squarely on Tomlin? Over the last several years of his tenure, GM Kevin Colbert didn’t exactly do the team many favors.

We have all seen the fans calling for a change of head coach for many years, and those same people are probably not too excited to see the latest contract extension. NFL Network insider Judy Battista had some words for those people on her Monday evening appearance on The Insiders.

“Be careful what you wish for,” Battista said. “There are an awful lot of organizations in the NFL that would take the level of success that Mike Tomlin has had, that the Pittsburgh Steelers have had. And again, he’s coming off what is arguably one of his best coaching seasons.”

The 2023 season ended with another first-round playoff loss, but the journey to even make it to the playoffs was rather impressive. Starting quarterback Kenny Pickett got injured, and the Steelers had to shuffle through their QB depth chart until Mason Rudolph provided the spark they needed to win three straight and qualify for the playoffs. They had to start seven different inside linebackers and six different safeties. That completely gutted the spine and communication hub of the defense as they were forced to sign guys off the practice squad and out of retirement to get through the season.

There were also the spiraling media narratives during the three-game losing streak. Virtually every major media network was piling on the team’s lack of leadership, and former Steelers even joined in on the criticism. But despite all the injuries and the distractions from the media, Tomlin kept his team focused. People are quick to write that off, but not every coach would have figured their way out of that mess.

“He is going to be in the job for two decades-plus by the time this contract ends, but players still relate to him,” Battista said. “He can still motivate players, and there’s no better example of that than last season when they had just a terrible quarterback situation.”

It may not have been the perfect route to get there, but did anybody see a 10-7 record in the cards for the 2023 Steelers after the offense’s performance over the first half of the season? Pickett was a historically bad starting quarterback, and Matt Canada was a historically bad offensive coordinator. Tomlin probably deserves some blame there, but he still figured out a way to keep the team focused. Look no further than the reaction from his players on his new contract. He still has plenty of buy-in from the locker room.


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