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Steelers Reacts: Fans say it’s time to move on from Mike Tomlin

Mike Tomlin the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 16, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Earlier this week, we polled fans on several questions about their confidence in the team, their curiosity about what Mason Rudolph would look like under center, and whether or not it’s time to move on from HC Mike Tomlin, either via trade or otherwise. Here’s what they had to say.

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Steelers fans are 2% more confident ahead of Week 16 than they were in Week 15.

Last week, just 6% of Steelers fans said they were confident in the team’s direction. Now, that’s up to 8%! That’s a whole 2% more!

I’m no math whiz, which means I’m not really able to calculate the significance of a 2% increase in team confidence; the margin of error in these very unofficial polls may be significant enough that it’s, in fact, actually totally meaningless.

Still, it doesn’t hurt to speculate. Perhaps that slight uptick in confidence has to do with the fact that fans are looking to the future; after all, could it get much worse than this? No, right? It can only go up from here.

60% of Steelers fans would want to see Mason Rudolph at quarterback even if Kenny Pickett had been cleared to start Week 16.

This was a survey question built on “what if’s”. Mike Tomlin had already planted the seed that Mason Rudolph would start, so it’s no surprise that he’s officially received the nod now that Kenny Pickett has been ruled out.

But let’s say Pickett had been cleared for Week 16; would fans still be curious to see Mason Rudolph get the start anyway?The answer is apparently “yes,” as 60% of those polled indicated they’d like to see Rudolph start regardless.

It seems unlikely that any quarterback would be likely to succeed in the current offensive system the Steelers have installed. It’s made it very difficult to assess Pickett’s abilities in that sense. As such, I have to assume that what fans are seeking in Mason Rudolph is not quality quarterback play; it’s a measuring stick with which to compare Kenny Pickett.

If Rudolph were to come into the same system and look the same (or better) than Kenny Pickett, that might just be the sign that the stats are right, and Pickett might just not be the franchise quarterback they hoped he’d be on draft day.

Most Steelers fans think it’s time to move on from HC Mike Tomlin.

73% of Steelers fans think it’s time for the team to trade (or to fire) HC Mike Tomlin. Of course, doing the math, that would mean that just 27% of fans think the team should retain him for the final year of his contract, which rolls through the 2024 season.

The idea of moving on from Tomlin isn’t an indictment of Tomlin or his capabilities as a head coach. After all, there’d be a giant line of suitors that would surely mortgage their future to have a leader like him in the building (which is why a trade would make way more sense, even if it’s unlikely to happen). What it does signal is a new era — something fresh. Something new. Something different.

We’ve all had job fatigue. You show up to the same job every day for 15 years — even one as exciting as a head coaching job in the National Football League — and it’s bound to become monotonous, staring at the same four (or however many) walls day after day. Coaching the same drills. After so many reps, you get comfortable. Sometimes, you get too comfortable — a feeling that most people, in most jobs, might relate to.

Oftentimes, career gurus and the like will say that once a job becomes comfortable, it’s probably time to move on, and that’s what it feels like is the case here. The Steelers are comfortable with Tomlin. Tomlin is comfortable with the Steelers. Regardless of the drive of any one individual or organization, you can settle into yourself in a way that limits your potential when you achieve that kind of level of comfort.

Think of how you behave in a relationship through the first several months versus how you behave 10 years into it. You start to relax. Your guard isn’t up. You know you’re secure and comfortable, so you maybe don’t make the effort you once did; you don’t stop by to surprise your significant other with flowers as often. You don’t go out on as many dates as you once did. It’s not to say things aren’t also great in their current state, but sometimes it does get easier not to give 100% every day as time goes on, even though both sides deserve the other’s very best.

Fans shouldn’t feel guilty for hoping that the team moves on for Mike Tomlin. It may just be the best thing for him and his growth as a coach in the NFL as well.