The conversation surrounding Mike Tomlin is so confusing. Pittsburgh is a game over .500, and with trips to Seattle and Baltimore remaining, the worst-case scenario ends the coach’s 16-year streak of winning seasons with an 8-9 record.
The Steelers handily beat the Bengals 34-11 on Saturday after a lopsided Mason Rudolph game that should have sparked Pittsburgh fans who know the potential of their skill players.
It also served as more proof that Kenny Pickett was undeniably wasted and regressed in year two. If fans want to get rid of Tomlin because he can’t turn chicken into a franchise QB, go for it. Buy the head coach, overreact to perceived locker room issues and see how little juice the next guy can wring from this list.
Tomlin is 51. He’s handled as many personalities as Phil Jackson, and always, always keeps his house in order. Sure, he was a franchise quarterback for most of his tenure, but Ben Roethlisberger was incontinent for the last four to five seasons of his career.
Have people forgotten that the most productive years of Antonio Brown’s career came under Tomlin? It’s not like Roethlisberger has been drama-free, either. Even in retirement, Big Ben thinks he knows what’s wrong with “his” franchise. Hey fox, shut up and let the adults talk. Go start a Miami of Ohio podcast.
George Pickens acts like any other young, underutilized wide receiver. Najee Harris is doing everything he can on an offense handcuffed to the radiator. Be thankful their frustrations didn’t include giving Pickett a whirl.
If anyone is to blame for this current predicament, it’s now-retired Pittsburgh GM Kevin Colbert. Drafting a hometown QB, who the locals knew deep down wasn’t the guy before he was selected, put the coaching staff in an impossible position.
Every time Pickett has a useful outing, or completes a pass over 20 yards, Steelers fans get an ache in their stomach like a parent watching their child get a base hit. Seriously, Pickett’s claim to fame at Pitt was Jordan Addison and a fake slide that is now illegal.
It is impossible to be objective when your heart is involved. Why do you think Ryan Clark is saying all these wild things about his former and blessed favorite coach?
Rudolph threw two touchdowns against the Bengals, or a third of the TDs Pickett threw all season. Additionally, Pickens had his most productive game of 2023. If Saturday’s meager output isn’t enough evidence to convince the powers that be that draft that Pittsburgh needs another QB, someone in the front office is blowing paint.
This season could have flown into the Allegheny months ago and the only reason pundits aren’t praising Tomlin’s coaching job is because he’s set the expectations sky high. What did anyone think was going to happen when the options were Pickett, Mitch Trubisky or Rudolph the red nose QB?
If the Steelers go the way of the 2023 Patriots next season, then we can talk about Tomlin’s future. Until that point, the only concern for the Terrible Towels is how to easily let Pickett down.