Mike Tomlin might be one of league’s most successful head coaches during the last 10 years or so, but that hasn't earned him the level of respect one might imagine. Many fans and media members have questioned his coaching style, and even some former players believe he lacks discipline and is too much of a players' coach.
Although Tomlin rarely talks about his coaching philosophy to the media, it would appear he is more than aware of the criticism surrounding his methods coming from outside of the organization. When speaking to Colin Dunlap and Jim Colony of The Fan Morning Show on Monday, Tomlin offered a surprisingly honest response to a question about the way he manages his team.
“I am who I am. I take my approach to discipline the way that I do. I’m never going to be somebody that I’m not. You know, I don’t worry about the naysayers and the people that judge, I really don’t. I focus my energies on getting this team to be a world championship-caliber group and my body of work will speak for itself. It always has. I’ve never felt the need to defend myself and don’t intend to.”
Considering the problems Tomlin has encountered with some of his star names in recent times, some might have hoped for a different sort of answer, but those who have followed his career long enough would expect nothing else. A coach of singular focus and unwavering self-confidence, Tomlin has always seemed immune to the noise that accompanies each season for the Steelers.
While James Harrison might prefer a coach like Bill Belichick, he's a rare exception among the names that have played for Tomlin. Universally beloved by countless players who have spent time in Pittsburgh, he's even the favorite of a number of players around the league who have never been coached by him.
For a team that was once managed by two strict disciplinarians in Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher, Tomlin’s methods will never mesh with that of his predecessors in the eyes of some fans. But given that Tomlin has been undeniably more successful than Cowher ever was through the first 11 years of his career, any criticism of his style seems rather unfounded, especially when there are probably 30 other teams in the NFL who would kill to have a coach as “undisciplined” as Tomlin in charge of their team.