With the termination of long-tenured Titans coach Jeff Fisher, a position of power opens in the NFL.
The head of the Competition Committee.
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio makes an excellent suggestion; place Steelers coach Mike Tomlin on that committee. Not to play Devil's Advocate, but do we really think the league will want to place the coach of the team that racked up more fines than any other in a position to alter the rules the league so ardently imposed this season?
No, but that's exactly why they should do it.
The committee, which is currently co-chaired by Fisher (who will likely be removed from this spot) and Falcons GM Rich McKay, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, Giants COO John Mara, Texans GM Rick Smith, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome, Colts president Bill Polian and Cowboys COO Stephen Jones.
With Fisher's absence, the committee only has one coach left, Lewis. While the presence of so much general management, the balance of power in the hypothetical "us vs. them" battle is slanted too heavily in favor of upper management, and the insight of the guys directly in the crosshairs of the penalties being called is a necessity.
Tomlin, unlike many other young coaches (ahemJosh McDaniels) has operated with the maturity and vision of a coach who's been in his position for 20 years. He was outspoken enough to defend James Harrison and the littany of fines he was assessed this year, but was also strong enough of a leader to get Harrison past the issue, coaching him to what the league was forcing the players to do.
It's difficult to see anyone complaining about the way Tomlin conducts himself, and his demonstration of consistent leadership is ideal for a position on that committee.
This isn't to suggest he should be the co-chair of the committee; that rightfully is and was held by men with far more experience than Tomlin has. If they feel it's necessary to have it split between a GM and a coach, Lewis would make perfect sense to replace Fisher alongside McKay.
The group, in McKay's words, is "charged with the stewardship of the quality of the game."
No team has battled with the league more this year than the Steelers. If the committee is true to the vision McKay mentioned, Tomlin is the perfect leader for it. The demographics appear to be balanced racially, but age looks to be a bit of a discrepancy. Tomlin is young (38 years old) but already has as much or more tenure in his current position than about half the rest of the league's coaches have in theirs.
He's an old school coach who's not interested in being friends with his players, but he's connected more to the younger players than many coaches are. He fights for his players, and defends them against what he feels are unfair penalties, but never openly complains about those penalties, and won't allow his team to use them as excuses.
That's the mindset the competition committee needs; a fresh perspective while being mindful of the need to go about things the right way. He's making his second Super Bowl appearance in four years after never previously being a head coach. He's doing something right. The NFL ownership group would be wise to put Tomlin in a position of league leadership.