Seeing a team like this version of the Pittsburgh Steelers in today’s NFL is amazing. They’ve struggled to score points all season, averaging less than 17 per game, yet the Steelers are three games over .500 and currently fifth in the AFC playoff seeding. With a 7-4 record and a point differential of -23, Mike Tomlin clearly deserves strong consideration for Coach of the Year honors.
Despite scoring just 16 points in Sunday’s win over Cincinnati, Pittsburgh posted 421 yards of total offense. This offensive output comes in the first game since the team handed former offensive coordinator Matt Canada his walking papers. The Steelers offense hadn’t accumulated 400 yards in one game in 58 games. That’s a stretch of three and a half seasons. This means the last time the Steelers did this, Ben Roethlisberger was still taking snaps.
While Tomlin is a Super Bowl-winning head coach who has led his franchise to multiple AFC championships and division titles, he’s been overlooked for Coach of the Year for 16 years. But year 17 could, and should, be different if the Steelers continue to win. Winning the way Pittsburgh has with that offense should be rewarded. The defense is really good, but today’s NFL is about offenses scoring points. Tomlin is in the midst of what could be his most remarkable year of coaching.
Brian Daboll won the award last season with a team that finished 9-7-1 and third place in their division. But Daboll was the darling offensive coach who came in and “fixed” Daniel Jones, even if only temporarily. Tomlin’s been taken for granted far too long. Until Sunday, QB Kenny Pickett hadn’t shown much growth, and the team continues to win.
During his career, Tomlin has had four 12-win campaigns and even won 13 games one year. Still, he’s never won Coach of the Year. Marvin Lewis was the last Black head coach to win the award in 2009. The Bengals finished 10-6 that season. So, why the hell Tomlin has been passed over so many times is a mystery. Lewis’ Bengals finished tied for the third-best record in the conference in ‘09. Tomlin’s squad was tied for the best record in the league in ‘17 at 13-3, and he still didn’t win the award.
What Tomlin is doing this season with this Steelers team shouldn’t be overlooked or taken for granted. We’re watching one of the greatest coaches of an era and it’s a shame he’s never been named Coach of the Year. If Pittsburgh ends up winning double-digit games while averaging less than 20 ppg and qualifying for the postseason, Tomlin should be at the top of most voters’ lists. Continuing to deny him the award he’s clearly deserved for years should be embarrassing to anyone with a vote. Former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett has this award on his resume, Tomlin doesn’t. Let that sink in.
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