Mike Tomlin has been the Pittsburgh Steelers’ head coach since 2007. 12 years in Pittsburgh, and if you are reading this article, and have followed the team closely for his entire tenure with the team, you know Tomlin has a way with words. He is a wordsmith if I’ve ever seen one.
When talking with others about Tomlin’s press conferences, I jokingly say Tomlin says everything, while saying nothing. If he is giving hard truths, it typically means something really bad has happened. Think Antonio Brown’s Facebook video, or Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount’s joy ride.
Otherwise, Tomlin deflects questions like Ben Roethlisberger deflects would-be tacklers, but he doesn’t do it like Bill Belichick. Tomlin isn’t a grumpy old man. No, he is someone who loves to use all his ‘Tomlinisms’ and delicately weave a web of words to try and answer the question, without giving away any unnecessary information whatsoever.
This is the case every time Tomlin steps in front of a microphone, and was when he was interviewed by NBC’s Peter King at Saint Vincent College prior to the team’s first preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. King specifically asked Tomlin about his one-year contract extension he received prior to camp, and Tomlin’s answer was a classic.
“I love the job. I love the challenges it presents. The variables are ever-changing. It’s continually stimulating. In terms of longevity, I don’t think a lot about longevity. I just like to feel the urgency of now. You do that enough, and you win enough, and you get longevity. Longevity has never been my focus. I just want to be a really good football team here in 2019.”
Tomlin Translation: I still love coaching very much, but I try not to think about the team giving me just a one-year contract. Rather, I just want to focus on winning in 2019. If I can do that, future contracts will take care of itself.
Mike Tomlin has seen a tremendous amount of success in his time in Pittsburgh. 12 seasons, and no losing seasons. For most NFL franchises this would be cause for a parade, but not in Pittsburgh. Not in the city where success is gauged by one thing, and one thing only — Super Bowl titles.
In this regard, Tomlin has fallen short too many times for the rabid fan base. It is a now-or-never type approach entering 2019, and this with a team who is missing a massive amount of talent and production they had seen in previous years.
Gone are Le’Veon Bell, and gone is Antonio Brown. Bell wasn’t there in 2018, but Brown’s 15 receiving touchdowns certainly were. Does this put more pressure on Tomlin to perform, especially after most are saying Tomlin has his locker room back after years of disarray?
“The adversity of the journey really creates some of the opportunities you’re talking about … The winning, the losing, the challenges of the journey, is where the test will be. I feel really comfortable with this group, but time will tell with that story.”
Tomlin Translation: Losing those players isn’t easy, but this will be a good test for the current team. I like this team, but have no idea what to really expect in 2019.
The truth of the matter is Tomlin might not be concerned about the future, and rightfully so. After watching his two star players run their way out of town, one way or another, and leave a path of destruction in their wake, the head coach has placed all of his chips on himself. He believes in the team he has now, and their ability to get the job done with it matters the most in 2019.
Will they get it done? Only time will tell, but Tomlin certainly knows the brevity of the current situation.