The Pittsburgh Steelers are ushering in a brand new era of football in 2022. There will be multiple new faces on the sidelines, as well as the field for the black and gold this year. At the conclusion of the 2021 season, long-time quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger retired, as well as general manager Kevin Colbert and long-time defensive assistant and coordinator, Keith Butler. However, one familiar face will remain the same and that’s head coach, Mike Tomlin.
Tomlin, who took over as head coach of the Steelers in 2007 at the ripe age of 35, has spent the better part of two decades in Pittsburgh. During his tenure as head coach of the Steelers, Tomlin has amassed an impressive 154-85-2 record. He has made the playoffs nine times in 15 years, been to two Super Bowls and won a title in 2008 which was just his second year as a head coach.
However, with a revamped coaching staff/front office and an unproven and extremely inexperienced quarterback room, Tomlin is going to have to produce one of his best coaching performances of his career in 2022 in order for this team to accomplish their goals of competing for a Super Bowl. With that being said, I pose the following question: If Tomlin can take this team to the playoffs and make a run, then will he have done enough to make the Hall of Fame?
Tomlin already has a strong Hall of Fame resume prior to the 2022 season. As previously stated, he’s one of the winningest head coaches of his generation. He has never had a losing season in the black and gold and has been to the playoffs over 60% of the time. However, Tomlin is criticized for his lack of success in the playoffs which is evident in his career record of 8-9 in the postseason. Tomlin has not been past the AFC Championship game in over a decade and has missed the playoffs four times in the last 10 years.
Tomlin has always had a great supporting cast in Pittsburgh with the aforementioned Colbert and Roethlisberger as GM and quarterback respectively. Now, it’s time to see what Tomlin is really made of without two future Hall of Famers.
Tomlin has little experience without Roethlisberger as his play-caller in his time as head coach. The most recent time was in the 2019 season when Roethlisberger went down in the second game of the season. Tomlin was forced to utilize back-up quarterbacks Mason Rudolph and Duck Hodges during the season and was able to squeeze out an 8-8 record with below average quarterback play. The Steelers were 8-6 and in position to make the playoffs during the 2019 season, but a late season implosion spoiled any dreams of playing into January.
The 2019 season was one of, if not the best, coaching performance by Tomlin during his tenure as head coach in Pittsburgh and he will need something emblematic of that year to find success in 2022. The Steelers brought in two new quarterbacks in Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett to compete for the starting spot after Roethlisberger’s retirement. Each have their pro’s and con’s, but both will need much more coaching and time committed to them by Tomlin than Roethlisberger did.
Similarly to 2019, Tomlin’s success will hinge mostly on how well the young quarterbacks can play and how well Tomlin can coach the team around them. The defense, which is the highest paid in the NFL, will have to carry this team. Tomlin, who Butler revealed called a majority of the plays on defense, must command excellence in all three aspects of the game. If he can will this team to the playoffs and make a deep run past the first round, then Tomlin will absolutely have earned himself a bust in Canton.
However, if this team can’t win and fail to make the playoffs, then Tomlin will have to keep working to prove he can win without Roethlisberger calling the plays and Colbert making moves in the front office. Regardless of what happens in 2022, the Steelers have been blessed with Tomlin for over 15 seasons. This franchise has continued its standard of dominance since Tomlin took over and I can’t imagine anyone else to usher this team into the next era of Steelers football.
Do you think Tomlin is a Hall of Famer? Sound off in the comments below!