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Steelers Unresponsive Trajectory Has Apathetic Mike Tomlin On A Collision Course With The 1988 Coaching Purge

Jordan Schofield / SteelerNation (Twitter: @JSKO_PHOTO)

Steelers Unresponsive Trajectory Has Apathetic Mike Tomlin On A Collision Course With The 1988 Coaching Purge

The Pittsburgh Steelers rarely have had losing seasons since the NFL began playing Super Bowls to crown a champion. The 2021 off-season marked the second time in modern franchise history that they bid farewell to a Hall of Fame quarterback. Both times the team had similar succession plans, bridge quarterback to a first-round pick who was anointed as the heir apparent.

Steelers Mark Malone

Photo: USA Today Sports Images

When Terry Bradshaw retired in 1983, the Steelers thought they had a succession plan in place with Cliff Stoudt as the bridge quarterback and Mark Malone as the first-round draft pick who would take over long term. After the 1983 season, Stoudt jumped to USFL and the team brought in David Woodley as the new bridge quarterback. They even had a modicum of postseason success, going as far as the 1984-85 AFC Championship game, but then they endured several down seasons resulting in a coaching purge after the 1988 season.

Steelers offense, Canada, Pickett, Pratt, 2022

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA – NOVEMBER 20: Kenny Pickett #8 of the Pittsburgh Steelers attempts a pass during the third quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Acrisure Stadium on November 20, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Pittsburgh is now in year one of the post-Ben Roethlisberger era and the succession plan again was bring in a bridge quarterback, Mitch Trubisky, and draft Kenny Pickett to let him sit and learn from the veteran. The big difference being that Stoudt had backed up Bradshaw for several seasons, and while not supremely talented, had the confidence of the team. Basically, the exact opposite of Mason Rudolph. Stoudt played for a season and Pittsburgh made the playoffs. After letting Woodley start the season in 1984, they eventually turned to Malone who took them all the way to the precipice of another Super Bowl.

Credit: Tribune-Review

Credit: Tribune-Review

The 2021 Steelers are way ahead of the 1980’s Steelers who clung to respectability until the mid-1980’s before they crashed. They have thrown the bridge quarterback overboard after three and a half games and are letting a rookie learn through trial by fire. The current version of the team seems intent on skipping all the way to the 1988 massacre of the coaching staff, that Chuck Noll was forced to choose. Dan Rooney did not have to fire Noll, but he gave him no choice in dismissing his staff, which included a future Hall of Fame coach in Tony Dungy.

Steelers

Mike Tomlin on sideline of Steelers 35-13 loss at Philadelphia. Photo credit – Karl Roser/Pittsburgh Steelers

Mike Tomlin has surpassed Noll in reaching full blown crisis mode in just 10 games. The offensive coordinator, Matt Canada is terrible, and Mike Sullivan is well liked, but doesn’t have a long track record of success either. The Steelers brought in Brian Flores from outside the organization to coach the linebackers and if Art Rooney II has the courage of his father and grandfather, he might be the only assistant Tomlin is allowed to keep. The Steelers have been promoting “yes men” to Tomlin since they fired Bruce Arians and ran Dick LeBeau out of town.


Steelers Owner Art Rooney II Must Direct Mike Tomlin To Take New Approach As Head Coach In 2022


This could be a positive for the Pittsburgh Steelers, after the purge in 1988, they immediately made the playoffs. Noll coached his last playoff victory upsetting the Houston Oilers and came within a whisper of upsetting the heavily favored Denver Broncos in the Divisional round. The coaching purge shook the organization and laid the foundation for Bill Cowher’s success. When Noll rode off into the sunset two seasons later, Cowher was a playoff fixture to start his career, with a fully stocked cupboard and the Steelers made it back to the Super Bowl in less than five seasons.

Steelers owner Art Rooney II and head coach Mike Tomlin

CANTON, OH – AUGUST 7: Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin (right) and president Arthur J. Rooney II look on as Dick LeBeau speaks during the 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium on August 7, 2010 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Tomlin is likely to get the same choice on the offensive side of the ball at the end of the season that Noll had. But it is time for new blood across the board. Tomlin can have a second chance with a new offensive staff that is autonomous within reason. If they keep Flores, it must be made clear that he calls the defense, not the head coach and the team has to mean it. Tomlin is praised as a motivator and leader of men; leaders recognize when different voices are needed and that has never been truer in Pittsburgh.

 

What do you think, Steeler Nation? Are you ready for the Pittsburgh purge part 2? Please comment below or on my Twitter @thebubbasq.

I have been rooting for the Steelers actively since 1975. I love the Black and Gold and support them through thick and thin. I am a Navy Veteran, living in Jacksonville, FL and never miss a chance to go to the neutral site games here in Jacksonville. I am new to the Steeler Nation website, but I love discussing Steelers Past, Present and Future.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Keith C.

    November 24, 2022 at 10:46 am

    DO IT NOW!! GET RID OF CANADA!!

  2. Rick

    November 24, 2022 at 11:33 am

    Start cleaning house now, what we have to loose

  3. Kevin Good

    November 24, 2022 at 6:07 pm

    Absolutely!! Tomlins true lack of being a quality head coach has been showing more and more as the years go by. He inherited Cowhers star studded team. His record has steadily gotten worse and worse. His lack of drafting quality first and second round picks has caught up to this team. 15 out of 32 have been busts or average. These coaches he hires are truly yes men. Fire all of them. Hire some new offensive minded head coach. Rehire Flores or Austin for the DC. Let this good team play good football.
    I can’t watch this team run the same plays game after game any more. All of the nfl knows what we’re doing. They sit and wait for these short passes.
    Please Mr Rooney, step up. It’s time.

  4. Pietro Cercone

    November 24, 2022 at 7:01 pm

    It’s time for massive changes. Mike Tomlin needs to get out of his own way and take responsibility for his own stubbornness and foolish play calling. This has to happen now. Not in the off season. AR2 & he needs to send a message to Steelers Nation that they care… NOW!!

  5. Smitty Smith

    November 24, 2022 at 7:02 pm

    The Steelers and there fans are Spoiled and they have no choice but to ride it out. They need to draft a real QB.

  6. Andy Pappas

    November 24, 2022 at 7:34 pm

    They need to draft a real QB?

    Have you broken down the film of the players for next year?

    Pickett is playing for one of the worst offensive coordinators in the NFL, one of the worst offensive lines and only have 2 legit NFL receivers and you want a new QB?

    The guy has started 7 NFL games and you think that is enough for a new qb?

    I hate to break it to you, but the Steelers won’t be drafting a qb in the 1st round this y

  7. Michael

    November 24, 2022 at 10:52 pm

    I mean, just come out and say you want Tomlin fired. One losing season and get rid of him (Tomlin) after losing Ben?! Star QBs don’t grow on trees. I agree Canada needs to be canned, but I’m blaming the defensive woes on a **** offense and defense injuries. This would be his first losing season in 15 years, so please spare me with the Cower’s team crap; it’s been like 15 years since bill, so let it go. I’m all for giving the dude the benefit of the doubt. Fire Canada is a start but scrapping the entire coaching staff is far too reactionary.

  8. caliph ali

    November 25, 2022 at 1:03 am

    Tomlin needs to go. Period!

  9. Steelers ja

    November 25, 2022 at 9:19 am

    It’s is time that the steelers let go under preforming coaches just like the players.it time to up grade the offense .they have the player in place.dont waste anymore time. The season is over now is the time to make changes

  10. Mark Eastman

    November 25, 2022 at 10:59 am

    What kills me is the Steelers should have looked into a QB years (at least 2) before Roethlisberger retired. I always wanted a veteran backup QB behind Roethlisberger and a star 3rd string that could be mentored and coached. That was my dream for years. Years went by and it wasn’t just the QB position that so many years went by and no one was taken as a replacement/ back up. I could name so many names.

  11. Charles Richards

    November 25, 2022 at 12:33 pm

    Its time for coaching changes, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator,and both should be calling their on plays.

  12. Dr E

    November 25, 2022 at 12:37 pm

    Ben ran this team, it’s obvious. He was the brains behind the success, Tomlin had a role. He is now exposed as not quite having all the answers as he likes to portray. Had he dumped the hyper-arrogant and inept Canadian last year things might be different now.

  13. Joseph Falcone

    November 25, 2022 at 2:58 pm

    Tomlin came out of the woodwork and they hired him to satisfy the “Rooney Rule”, a motivator? I think not. Time for the Steelers to move on!!!

  14. MIke Jones

    November 25, 2022 at 4:56 pm

    Get rid of Canada and Terrell Austin because the defense is worse than last year. I can’t remember when anybody scored 30+ points on us.The offensive line is horrible and we haven’t had a legitimate nose tackle since Big snack left. Oh by the way we need corners also. I still believe in Tomlin but everyone else gotta go! LETS GOOOOOOOOOO!

  15. Lee Goddard

    November 25, 2022 at 11:56 pm

    I think the Steelers should clean the house. If they keep Tomlin, I agree they need to get a defensive coordinator and a offensive coordinator outside of the Steeler organization. Flories might be decent though, but until they get new blood in there to coach the defense and offense they will just keep hiring people within the organization and keep playing the same plays that never seemed to work

  16. Roberta J Campbell

    November 26, 2022 at 4:55 am

    I have mo problem with them keeping Flores personally I would have even let Canada go and had Flores coach the offense he was a head coach and I’m sure he could do a better job than Canada I know he is more defensive but as a head coach you have knowledge of offense, defense and SP. But Tomlin needs to go he has been here too long and they need a new fresh voice and he needs a new challenge. His plan to move on from Ben has nor worked out at all. He hasn’t won a playoff game in many years. He has also let his ego get in the way of making changes instead of keep going with what is not working.

  17. Gregory Mikolay

    November 28, 2022 at 1:42 pm

    Tomlin needs to go ….he won’t have a tough time finding a job, we need new and fresh and I’d rather watch steelers rebuild completely than watch Tomlin “try again” . Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.. Mike is a leader of men but that might mean more off field than on … 10 years of depreciating returns? What’s that tell you

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