Despite going 12-4 this season, having the overall best defense in the NFL and some lofty (if somewhat misleading) offensive numbers, Mike Tomlin is in a real pickle. The word from dad (Art Rooney II) has come down that if you don’t settle down and behave, he will pull this car over and get a few things straight. He has already let you know that one of your friends has outstayed his welcome and needs to be running along. “I’m not saying he has to go home, but he can’t stay here”. Mikey is in a fix to be sure; caught between the group of friends he’s had success with and the uncertain future that he needs to face quick, fast, and in a hurry. And this all needs to get done before Dad raises his voice again.
Mike Tomlin is a great NFL coach, no nonsense fellow and full time teacher of the game. I have witnessed him first hand throw a pass to his son, who looked no more than seven or eight years old, and then give the lad pointers on how to better position his hands to catch the ball better. He then had his son run the same little four yard pattern a couple of extra times to get the footing part down pat. He is that type of guy; “Here’s what we do. Here’s how we do it. Here’s who we put in to do it”. That has really well for Tomlin’s Steelers: 5 seasons, 4 playoff appearances, 2 Super Bowls, 1 World Championship. By the way, I really dislike when teams refer to Super Bowl victories as “World Championships”. When the playoff seeding includes teams from at least 3 of the five continents we’ll talk World Champions… But as Mike Tomlin is fond of saying “we have not met the expectations”. So, things will need to change.
Art Rooney is not a “Seagull Boss”; one who comes in flapping his wings, screeching loudly and shitting all over things. You would have to look to Washington and Dallas to find owners like that. No, the Rooney’s are family friendly, community minded, and methodical, but they want the best possible product on the fields. The Steelers have had three bosses in my lifetime and you, as citizens of Steeler Nation, know who they are. They are as steady of an ownership as you will find anywhere in business; the perfect model; the perfect product. Yet, this is the first time in my life that I can remember one of the Rooney’s having to speak twice on the subject of ANYTHING. Art Rooney II mentioned at the beginning of his tenure that he wanted more focus put on a return to the running game. He even used the term “Steelers Football” to emphasize his wishes. There was a lot of speculation in the media as to what that really meant. Most thought that it meant that when the Steelers REALLY REALLY needed to run the ball, like on 3rd and 1 for example, that they need to be more effective at it. That would somehow meet the modern definition of “Steelers Football”. It did not so Bruce Arians got himself retired. As I’ve said before, I think Arians had a creative mind and some good schemes. He just needed to mix up the run and pass a bit more evenly (and piss off with the bubble screens). I really think that if BA would have used the ground attack more on first and second down, he would still be employed in Pittsburgh.
So what the hell are you going to do now, Mike? You’ve disappointed The Old Man, lost your offensive coordinator, got a sure to be pouty quarterback on your hands, and your team is twenty some million dollars over the salary cap. Oh, don’t run off so fast, coach. Your defense is long in the tooth, you have a boatload of free agents on the squad, and that five years of success you’ve had here means more drafting from the bottom of the bag. All of this and more comes on the heels of the death of Mike Tomlin’s father and the horrible accident to running backs coach, Kirby Wilson.
Steady as it goes, Mike. Steady as it goes. Dad is waiting up and the car better have a full tank of gas when he gets in it next.