Seven coaches in all were fired on the annual day known as “Black Monday,” but in reality it could have been double digits. If you ask me Rex Ryan, Ron Rivera, Mike Mularkey at the very least should be gone as well.
Still, no bigger name should have been fired from his head coaching job than the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin.
Tomlin has had things very easy with the Steelers. When he got the Steelers job he was essentially given a great team. The team has veterans, many of which in their prime that knew how to play effective NFL football.
The facts are the facts. Clint Hurdle may be one of the worst in-game strategists in the game right now, but Tomlin is worse. His refusals to not go for two because he didn’t want others to see the playbook reeks of desperation – desperation that the Jets’ Rex Ryan showed with the Tim Tebow situation.
Tomlin has been terrible at drafting players and it has haunted the Steelers, enough said there.
Tomlin is so stuck in his ways and the whole Rashard Mendenhall drama is a perfect example. While he made the right decision on Jonathan Dwyer, he was too proud to take him out and rather wanted to punish Mendenhall who did not come to a game while on the inactive list.
I almost guarantee Mendenhall does not come back, and frankly I cannot blame him. While Mendenhall was wrong in not being on the sidelines, Tomlin was more wrong by not playing him. The ground game needed a boost and Mendenhall looked at times as though he could have provided it.
For the second straight year, Tomlin rushed Ben Roethlisberger. Last season, Roethlisberger was walking on pins and needles at best in San Francisco, and this year he clearly was not 100 percent against the San Diego Chargers. How could the team play so inspired with Charlie Batch under center against the rival Baltimore Ravens only to fall flat to a Chargers team that was going to lose both their head coach and general manager?
Roethlisberger has been a great quarterback for this team, however he never did seem to be 100 percent and his “walk-off” interceptions in weeks 15 and 16 sealed the team’s doom. It should have sealed Tomlin’s as well.
Week 17 should have been treated as a preseason game. In truth the game did not matter; it was the “dogs” vs. the Dawgs and the Steelers prevailed. Tomlin has been willing to punish players – or at least every Steelers running back – but he should have punished his starters.
Despite the injuries, not many of the “newer” players did not see reps. I’m talking about guys such as Steve McLendon. A perfect example occurred in the win over the Browns, during which McLendon made a great play then went straight to the sideline.
This is exactly why that game should have been treated as a preseason game. A lot of the players on that field are not coming back, why not see what your young players can bring, it certainly can’t be any worse. What’s the worst that could happen? Seriously, it did not matter if this team won or lost.
Yes, I know there were injuries but the facts are the facts, this team lost to the Tennessee Titans, the Cleveland Browns, the Oakland Raiders and the Chargers, all of which are unacceptable. Tomlin’s fingerprints are all over those games and again there is no reason the Steelers lose those, and in the end it cost them dearly.
Perhaps Tomlin started his regulars in week 17 as a final hurrah, after all it will be decision time in the offseason. Who will stay and who will go? Lots of decisions have to be made and a lot of veterans may be packing their bags.
Next season’s schedule on paper is tougher than this one. This season should have been a breeze with at least a wild-card berth. Next season’s schedule includes road games against the New England Patriots, the Green Bay Packers and the Raiders. As weird as it is to say Oakland, the Steelers have had their struggles winning there.
How can this team fail to make the playoffs despite having the top ranked defense in the NFL? Two men share that responsibility: Todd Haley and Mike Tomlin.
Haley came under attack and now fans may realize how much of a blessing Bruce Arians truly was. His relationship with Roethlisberger was very healthy. When Arians wanted to “retire” before the 2011 season, it was his star pupil who talked him out of it.
While Haley and Roethlisberger did not have any public screaming matches, it was clear that often they were not on the same page. To me, that falls on Tomlin. Yes, Haley and Roethlisberger need to be men, brush off their egos and team up, but this was an experiment doomed to fail.
Haley was rumored to be one of the top candidates to become the new head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, a team for which he once served as offensive coordinator, but he has turned down those reports.
Ever since Haley’s hiring, there have been whispers that Tomlin never wanted to get rid of Arians and he was not the happiest about the choice. At his end-of-year press conference, Tomlin was complimentary of defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, but was not as nice about Haley which only adds to the rumors.
While the move may have been made to neutralize Roethlisberger’s growing influence with the offense and the team, the move shows a lot.
For a team willing to give Tomlin the ropes, there are one of two options. The first was Tomlin trying to make a power move by hiring Haley with buyer’s remorse but the second and more likely option is that the Rooneys made the move to decrease Roethlisberger’s influence. To me it seems to be a lack of trust in Tomlin, who seemed satisfied with keeping what he already had.
Now this is a team in shambles and a team that may be in for a rather large overhaul this season. While Tomlin’s contract was extended through the 2016 season, ownership sent a mixed message if they were the ones that hired Haley as I expect is the case.
The Steelers have a solid history of hiring a head coach and sticking with it, just ask Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher. They showed that same faith to Tomlin by extending his contract, but this season was an absolute failure and Tomlin is completely to blame.
Next season could very well be a completely different season from what fans have been used to. With the direction the team is headed in, I believe they need another head coach to match this change.
Sadly this will never happen, but if the Steelers had their thinking caps on, this one would be a no-brainer.