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17 years, zero losing seasons: Mike Tomlin’s coaching genius rumbles on | Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Tomlin, in his 17th season as the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, found a seat behind a table and two microphones last week and said he was “really excited” that his team had rallied to beat the Tennessee Titans. Then, as usual, Tomlin abruptly began sweating the details.

“Obviously, it could have been cleaner, first and foremost, from a penalty perspective,” Tomlin said. “Part of being a tough team to beat, first, is not kicking your own butt, and we’ve been kind of doing that some. We’ve got to own that. And so, we will. We’ll review it. We’ll learn from it, we’ll look at it. We’ll bring more officials into our practice setting in an effort to be cleaner, because that was catastrophic, really, in a lot of instances to our effort.”

So much for jubilation. The Steelers had just rallied to beat the Titans for their third victory in four games. Pittsburgh are 5-3, a mere game-and-a-half behind Baltimore, the leaders in the rugged AFC North, with the same record as division rivals Cleveland and Cincinnati.

His not-so-great quarterback, Kenny Pickett, was overcoming a rib injury. Tomlin had decided to move his much-maligned offensive coordinator, Matt Canada, to the sidelines from a press-box-level booth.

Besides, despite 10 penalties for 80 yards against Tennessee, Pittsburgh are still one of the least flagged teams in the NFL.

But this is Tomlin, the blunt, no-BS taskmaster and for years one of the best coaches in the NFL. He has never had a losing record as the Steelers’ coach. The Steelers, with a middling roster, were expected to hang around .500, but they are in a brutal division, so a .500 record might mean a last-place finish. And yet, Pittsburgh are 5-3 – 2-0 against teams in their division – and would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.

“They’re literally good at nothing, other than winning the game,” Dan Graziano, an NFL insider, said on ESPN. “It’s ridiculous.”

Tomlin would glower if someone brought this up, but this might be his best season yet. He has found ways to win despite having Pickett at quarterback. The second-year player from Pitt has the fourth-lowest passer rating of 27 NFL quarterbacks with 200 pass attempts. Only Zach Wilson of the Jets, Mac Jones of the Patriots and Bryce Young of Carolina are poorer.

Despite a short week of preparation, running backs Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren, who had only 488 yards between them in the Steelers’ first seven games, combined for 157 yards rushing against the Titans. Bill Cowher, the beloved former Steelers coach, said Sunday that Pittsburgh benefited from Canada calling the plays from the sidelines.

“It seemed like he was more in tune and in touch with his team,” Cowher said.

After the game, Tomlin had all but shrugged off the repositioning of Canada, saying, “We’re making moves with the intent of getting better.”

There are caveats: Pittsburgh are to play later this month at Cleveland and Cincinnati, and the Bengals and the streaking Ravens loom in the last three weeks, but Tomlin has built a competitive team. Again. What a journey this has been.

Tomlin was 35, with all of one year of experience as an NFL defensive coordinator, when the Steelers hired him in 2007. Tomlin’s predecessors, Chuck Noll and Cowher, both Hall of Famers, combined to coach the Steelers for 38 seasons, with five Super Bowl titles between them.

Tomlin led the Steelers to the Vince Lombardi Trophy in just his second season, tumbling to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl two years later. But Tomlin also had the services of six-time Pro Bowl quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who often just refused to lose. The glory days were thought to be over when Big Ben called it quits in January 2022 after 18 seasons.

And the Steelers lost six of their first eight games the following season, the last of those being a 35-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in which the Steelers barely caused a fuss. Pittsburgh, however, then had a bye week. Tomlin and his staff got to work. The Steelers won seven of nine, including their last four games. They just missed the playoffs, but the turnaround was remarkable.

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Pittsburgh are 2-1 since their bye week this year – and the loss was a 20-10 stinker to Jacksonville in which Pickett left the game with a rib injury late in the first half. But Pickett was back a week later. He was a first-round draft choice in 2022, but he is no Roethlisberger. Because the Steelers’ running game was so robust, Pickett threw for only 160 yards against Tennessee.

“Everyone just harps on negatives,” Pickett said after the game against the Titans. “You can’t get caught up in that.”

Tomlin isn’t downbeat, but he does talk a lot about ways his team can get better. Later in his postgame news conference, he brought up the word “catastrophic” again to describe the penalties. When someone pointed out that Pittsburgh had scored a touchdown on their opening drive – a first in 2023 – Tomlin said, “I’m not ready to paint with a broad brush.”

There is a reason why no current NFL head coach, apart from New England’s Bill Belichick, has been in charge of the same team longer than Tomlin. Tomlin keeps adapting, keeps solving problems. He is hardly a drudge: He can be genuinely funny and quotable. But he keeps doing his job well.

Roethlisberger let the Steelers have it in his podcast after the loss to Jacksonville by saying that they should not have called a quarterback sneak on the play in which Pickett was injured. That call was on Canada, but, by extension, also on Tomlin.

“You’re telling me you can’t get your running back that one foot,” Roethlisberger said. “That push play is batting 1.000 right now. Put Big Naj [Harris] back behind you and just push. That play is going to be talked about for a week at least. And your quarterback got hurt, it’s not even negative, it’s above negative.”

Pickett carried the ball once against Tennessee. He took the last snap of the game and kneeled to polish off the Pittsburgh victory. On third-and-one late in the game, Pickett handed off to Warren, who gained 13 yards around left end. The Steelers scored the winning touchdown.

Tomlin had made the fix. That was not even positive. It was above positive.



Summarize this content to 100 words Mike Tomlin, in his 17th season as the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, found a seat behind a table and two microphones last week and said he was “really excited” that his team had rallied to beat the Tennessee Titans. Then, as usual, Tomlin abruptly began sweating the details.“Obviously, it could have been cleaner, first and foremost, from a penalty perspective,” Tomlin said. “Part of being a tough team to beat, first, is not kicking your own butt, and we’ve been kind of doing that some. We’ve got to own that. And so, we will. We’ll review it. We’ll learn from it, we’ll look at it. We’ll bring more officials into our practice setting in an effort to be cleaner, because that was catastrophic, really, in a lot of instances to our effort.”So much for jubilation. The Steelers had just rallied to beat the Titans for their third victory in four games. Pittsburgh are 5-3, a mere game-and-a-half behind Baltimore, the leaders in the rugged AFC North, with the same record as division rivals Cleveland and Cincinnati.His not-so-great quarterback, Kenny Pickett, was overcoming a rib injury. Tomlin had decided to move his much-maligned offensive coordinator, Matt Canada, to the sidelines from a press-box-level booth.Besides, despite 10 penalties for 80 yards against Tennessee, Pittsburgh are still one of the least flagged teams in the NFL.But this is Tomlin, the blunt, no-BS taskmaster and for years one of the best coaches in the NFL. He has never had a losing record as the Steelers’ coach. The Steelers, with a middling roster, were expected to hang around .500, but they are in a brutal division, so a .500 record might mean a last-place finish. And yet, Pittsburgh are 5-3 – 2-0 against teams in their division – and would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.“They’re literally good at nothing, other than winning the game,” Dan Graziano, an NFL insider, said on ESPN. “It’s ridiculous.”Tomlin would glower if someone brought this up, but this might be his best season yet. He has found ways to win despite having Pickett at quarterback. The second-year player from Pitt has the fourth-lowest passer rating of 27 NFL quarterbacks with 200 pass attempts. Only Zach Wilson of the Jets, Mac Jones of the Patriots and Bryce Young of Carolina are poorer.Despite a short week of preparation, running backs Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren, who had only 488 yards between them in the Steelers’ first seven games, combined for 157 yards rushing against the Titans. Bill Cowher, the beloved former Steelers coach, said Sunday that Pittsburgh benefited from Canada calling the plays from the sidelines.“It seemed like he was more in tune and in touch with his team,” Cowher said.After the game, Tomlin had all but shrugged off the repositioning of Canada, saying, “We’re making moves with the intent of getting better.”There are caveats: Pittsburgh are to play later this month at Cleveland and Cincinnati, and the Bengals and the streaking Ravens loom in the last three weeks, but Tomlin has built a competitive team. Again. What a journey this has been.Tomlin was 35, with all of one year of experience as an NFL defensive coordinator, when the Steelers hired him in 2007. Tomlin’s predecessors, Chuck Noll and Cowher, both Hall of Famers, combined to coach the Steelers for 38 seasons, with five Super Bowl titles between them.Tomlin led the Steelers to the Vince Lombardi Trophy in just his second season, tumbling to the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl two years later. But Tomlin also had the services of six-time Pro Bowl quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who often just refused to lose. The glory days were thought to be over when Big Ben called it quits in January 2022 after 18 seasons.And the Steelers lost six of their first eight games the following season, the last of those being a 35-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in which the Steelers barely caused a fuss. Pittsburgh, however, then had a bye week. Tomlin and his staff got to work. The Steelers won seven of nine, including their last four games. They just missed the playoffs, but the turnaround was remarkable.skip past newsletter promotionSign up to Soccer with Jonathan WilsonJonathan Wilson brings expert analysis on the biggest stories from European soccer”,”newsletterId”:”soccer-with-jonathan-wilson”,”successDescription”:”Jonathan Wilson brings expert analysis on the biggest stories from European soccer”}” config=””renderingTarget”:”Web”,”darkModeAvailable”:false”>Privacy Notice: Newsletters may contain info about charities, online ads, and content funded by outside parties. For more information see our Privacy Policy. We use Google reCaptcha to protect our website and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.after newsletter promotionPittsburgh are 2-1 since their bye week this year – and the loss was a 20-10 stinker to Jacksonville in which Pickett left the game with a rib injury late in the first half. But Pickett was back a week later. He was a first-round draft choice in 2022, but he is no Roethlisberger. Because the Steelers’ running game was so robust, Pickett threw for only 160 yards against Tennessee.“Everyone just harps on negatives,” Pickett said after the game against the Titans. “You can’t get caught up in that.”Tomlin isn’t downbeat, but he does talk a lot about ways his team can get better. Later in his postgame news conference, he brought up the word “catastrophic” again to describe the penalties. When someone pointed out that Pittsburgh had scored a touchdown on their opening drive – a first in 2023 – Tomlin said, “I’m not ready to paint with a broad brush.”There is a reason why no current NFL head coach, apart from New England’s Bill Belichick, has been in charge of the same team longer than Tomlin. Tomlin keeps adapting, keeps solving problems. He is hardly a drudge: He can be genuinely funny and quotable. But he keeps doing his job well.Roethlisberger let the Steelers have it in his podcast after the loss to Jacksonville by saying that they should not have called a quarterback sneak on the play in which Pickett was injured. That call was on Canada, but, by extension, also on Tomlin.“You’re telling me you can’t get your running back that one foot,” Roethlisberger said. “That push play is batting 1.000 right now. Put Big Naj [Harris] back behind you and just push. That play is going to be talked about for a week at least. And your quarterback got hurt, it’s not even negative, it’s above negative.”Pickett carried the ball once against Tennessee. He took the last snap of the game and kneeled to polish off the Pittsburgh victory. On third-and-one late in the game, Pickett handed off to Warren, who gained 13 yards around left end. The Steelers scored the winning touchdown.Tomlin had made the fix. That was not even positive. It was above positive.
https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2023/nov/08/17-years-zero-losing-seasons-mike-tomlins-coaching-genius-rumbles-on 17 years, zero losing seasons: Mike Tomlin’s coaching genius rumbles on | Pittsburgh Steelers

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