By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
There are several ways to describe Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's job performance this season, but this clearly is most appropriate:
Below the line.
Not even Tomlin will argue that.
The Steelers missed the playoffs despite having superior talent to at least four of the six teams that made the AFC field. Tomlin is the boss. Therefore ...
"I accept responsibility for everything," the man said, not even attempting to duck.
That is as it should be.
Responsibility for the pass-defense problems in the secondary, which devastated the team.
For the kickoff and punt coverage troubles, which never really were solved.
For the red-zone shortcomings on offense.
For the hideous five-game losing streak, which started at midseason and sabotaged the team's 6-2 start.
For the players failing to "unleash hell" -- Tomlin's promise -- after the loss in Baltimore Nov. 29 and losing at home the next weekend to the awful Oakland Raiders.
For the most lifeless effort a Steelers team has made in years in an embarrassing loss in Cleveland Dec. 10.
For all of it.
You know what is coming next, right?
At this point, there is only one thing the Steelers should do with Tomlin:
Give him a two-year contract extension.
You don't really think they should fire him, do you?
Don't be foolish.
Tomlin deserves an extension. One bad season doesn't make a bad coach. Bill Cowher had a bunch of bad ones here before Tomlin, and teams are lining up to throw countless millions at him to get him back in the business. Tomlin showed a long time ago the job isn't too big for him. He showed he knows how to win.
Tomlin proved he could coach in his first season -- 2007 -- when he took over a veteran team that was angry because one of Cowher's assistants -- Russ Grimm or Ken Whisenhunt -- didn't succeed him. He survived All-Pro guard Alan Faneca's contract bitterness, a dispute so ugly that Faneca refused to be an offensive captain. The team won the AFC North Division.
Tomlin proved he could coach the next season when the Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII. That, alone, is worth a new contract.
Even this season, Tomlin proved he could coach by getting the players back on track after that fiasco in Cleveland. Just when it looked as if the Steelers would finish with an eight-game losing streak and a 6-10 record, they won their final three games to go 9-7 and nearly climb out of a very deep, dark hole.
Tomlin deserves an extension.
The time is right. An announcement of a new deal for Tomlin is expected before training camp in July. The Rooneys long have preached of the importance of "continuity" and "stability" in their organization. To back that up, they almost always give an extension to their coach when he has two years left on his current contract, as Tomlin does. That's a big reason they have had just three coaches in the past 41 seasons. It's also a big reason they have been so successful.
Something team president Art Rooney II said when he gave Cowher a three-year extension before the 2001 season still is memorable. At the time, the Steelers had missed the playoffs for three consecutive years and many fans were calling for Cowher to be fired.
"All things considered, he's still one of the best coaches in the NFL," Rooney said. "Taking a chance on maybe having to bring someone new in here was not the direction we wanted to go."
It's safe to think management has the same opinion of Tomlin.
Is he a perfect coach? No, for all of those reasons mentioned above and a few others. For that third-and-1 pass play early in the game at Cleveland on a frozen field on a frigid night. For that ridiculous onside kick against the Green Bay Packers. For the way he made safety Troy Polamalu look bad -- even soft -- by seeming to minimize his second knee injury even as he missed game after game, the final seven in all.
It's nice to think Polamalu won't be alienated the way former star running back Barry Foster was after similar mistreatment from Cowher in 1993.
So, no, Tomlin isn't perfect.
But what coach is?
While we're asking questions, here are two more:
Is Tomlin the right man for the Steelers' job right now? Yes.
Should he get that extension? Absolutely.
Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10010...#ixzz0cD8y32Su
What does everybody think? I think he does, I hope he has learned a lesson from this season.