Mike Tomlin should be fired, plus other Steelers musings

Dec 30, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin argues a call with head linesman Jerry Bergman (91) against the Cleveland Browns during the second half of the game at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Topics: Pittsburgh Steelers

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  • http://www.facebook.com/kjdaniels Kareem J Daniels

    Write a blog for another team. You obviously don’t know how the Steelers are run.

  • skyfire322

    Totally disagree with this post. In six seasons, Tomlin has taken them to two Super Bowls, winning one of them. Yes, there were some bad coaching decisions this year, but you can’t justify a firing on just one season. The rifts between Haley and Ben have absolutely nothing to do with Tomlin, so you can’t put that on him. Since Knoll and Cowher were mentioned, here are some figures that may have been overlooked.

    Chuck Knoll’s first six seasons:
    1-13; 5-9; 6-8; 11-3; 10-4; 11-3 (Three trips to the playoffs; two playoff losses, one SB win)

    Bill Cowher’s first six seasons:
    11-5; 9-7; 12-4; 11-5; 10-6; 11-5 (Six trips to the playoffs; six playoff losses)

    Mike Tomlin’s first six seasons:
    10-6; 12-4; 9-7; 12-4; 12-4; 8-8 (Four trips to the playoffs; three playoff losses, one SB win)

    Knoll and Cowher were legendary coaches, and Tomlin’s record is on par with both of them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gino.capato Gino Capato

    Zachary Weiss – You’re brain must be on crack. How could you write an article like this?

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.machi.94 Mike Machi

    Finally an honest realistic media piece. The steelers are in trouble with Tomlin if he is in their future.

  • ray

    i agree, Dumd-Lin should have been fired also. His game management and game prepared-ness are terrible. uit with the 2 super bowls as he was just there for the ride. he is a players coach alright. His players have no mental toughness or respect for the Steeler way. Tomlin not a good fit for the Steelers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jshepher John Shepherd

    Wow. This almost doesn’t warrant a comment, but it is so off the wall wrong. The Rooney’s know how to identify head coaches with the leadership qualities necessary to be successful. Oh by the way, the Steeler’s just happen to be the most successful NFL team of the last 42 years (post NFL/AFL Merger). I think they know what they are doing. Steelers under Tomlin: 4 division titles, 2 AFC conference titles, 2 Super Bowl appearances (2008, 2010), 2008 Super Bowl Champions. Forget trying to say he won with Cowher talent. He inherited an 8-8 team from Cowher.

  • Bob

    A low level piece of journalism. Not sure how this is a link on CNN Si. You are clearly not a factual journalist. Only looking to stir up some buzz. You failed! Look for a new line of work.

  • Rahsaan

    In my opinion this is a poorly researched article by someone that almost certainly has to be completely biased

  • TheActualtodd

    I can see having a problem with some of the moves Tomlin made this season, absolutely. But suggesting that he be fired is lunacy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.machi.94 Mike Machi
  • http://www.facebook.com/cbone1654 Weiss Chad

    You’re a special kind of stupid aren’t you
    The last I knew it was colbert who makes the picks not tomlin or cowher.They have done a great job of drafting if you looked where they picked.They have had their busts and thete hits.How do you fire a coach who’s been to two superbowls on five yrs?

  • disqus_wdLdx4W76r

    Complete garbage..and replace him with which one of these outstanding coaches who also got fired? Or a NCAA Guy? Tomlin didn’t drop balls or fumble the season away..they lost every game but 2 by 3 or less..OK he’s made some questionable choices..What NFL coach hasn’t? Only one cost them a W against the Titans..the rest fall on the players on the field.

  • disqus_wdLdx4W76r

    Colbert is the GM..not Tomlin its the GMs job to draft the best players on the board..head coach may have input but at the end of the day it falls on he GM..why you think so many got candidates after this year..SLOW DOWN SPARKY