Normally, by this point in a week following a Steelers loss, I would have just concluded my fifth or sixth social media war with a member of the “Let’s Blame/Fire Mike Tomlin Not So Secret Society”.
I would have already cited overall record, the lack of a losing season, consistency, leadership, yadda, yadda, yadda.
But I gotta tell ya’, this week, after yet another inexplicable road loss to a huge underdog, I’m not really in much of a Tomlin defending mood. Since Sunday’s loss, a 24-21 debacle against the Raiders, I’ve read countless comments from Tomlin detractors on social media and I have yet to utter one word in his defense. Even my brother texted me Monday morning, saying he feels the Steelers should get rid of Tomlin and hire recently fired Packers head coach and Pittsburgh kid, Mike McCarthey—the Mike Tomlin of Green Bay—and I barely put up a fight.
Hey, when you have been accused your entire career of not having your team prepared to play against inferior opponents—specifically, inferior road opponents—and you go ahead and lose to maybe the worst team in football and do so with so much at stake, how can that be defended?
Did you know that since Tomlin became the Steelers head coach in 2007, road teams that were favored by nine points or more have a record of 58-15? Did you also know that five of those losses have been by Tomlin coached teams?
How can you defend that when the numbers speak for themselves?
So, despite the fans and the Colin Cowherds of the world criticizing him throughout the years for that one specific flaw, alone, Tomlin couldn’t make it through one season without adding another such loss to his career resume?
And what about those five-star match-ups that have been a positive addition to Tomlin’s resume? With bad losses to the Chiefs and Chargers so far this season, he hasn’t even been able to give the fans that in 2018. Maybe that’s because the 2018 Steelers aren’t a five-star team and not worthy of being on the marquee of such match-ups—with the Patriots and Saints on the horizon, boy are we going to find out real fast.
That remains to be seen, but what doesn’t remain to be seen is whether or not Tomlin will insert quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, his very best and most important player, back into the lineup in the second half against Oakland after being medically cleared to return with a rib injury. Why? Because that scenario already unfolded, and Tomlin famously botched it.
Why? Because they were in the “flow of the game.” (Speaking of not being able to defend something. Like, what does that even mean?)
I can’t even criticize those that often criticize Tomlin’s clock management skills, not after he failed to call timeouts when the Raiders had a first and goal inside the 10-yard line and were seriously threatening to take the lead with less than two minutes remaining in the game. Why? Because using timeouts seemed like the right thing to do. Why? Because having 45 seconds or a minute and no timeouts to move into field goal range just seemed more sensible than 21 seconds and one timeout.
So, if you want to change your BTSC name to “TomlinMustGo” or your Twitter account to “Bring__Back__The__Chin,” I certainly won’t stop you. If you want to tie every conspiracy theory from the Kennedy assassination to the fake moon landing to Tomlin’s coaching prowess (you know who you are), I won’t put up any resistance, at least not this week.
This isn’t to say I think Tomlin should be fired or that he is a poor coach. It’s just that, well, it’s really hard to defend anything that he did in the game against the Raiders on Sunday.
The Mike Tomlin haters have already won this week’s battle, and it wasn’t even close.