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The Steelers have had just three head coaches since 1969 and two of them are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher. Mike Tomlin, who got a three-year contract extension on Tuesday, is on track of joining Noll and Cowher in Canton someday also.
Tomlin is heading into his 15th year as the Steelers head coach and has a regular-season record of 145-78-1 (.650). He'll for sure surpass Bill Cowher's win total of 149 regular-season wins this season, and Cowher was the Steelers head coach for 15 seasons (1992-2006). With the three-year extension and the league now adding a 17-game schedule, Tomlin might even surpass Chuck Noll's 193 regular-season win total when it's all set and done. Noll was the Steelers head coach for 23 seasons (1969-1991).
Tomlin's 145 regular-season wins also are tied for 21st overall in NFL history and are third-most among active NFL head coaches. Tomlin joined Marty Schottenheimer this past season as the only two head coaches in NFL history to have 14 consecutive non-losing seasons to begin their NFL careers. Tomlin is also the winningest minority head coach in NFL history.
Despite Tomlin's success, he has struggled in the playoffs as of late. He has just three playoff wins since the 2011 season and hasn't won a playoff game since the 2016-2017 season. Overall, Tomlin is 8-8 in the postseason and has two Super Bowl appearances, one of which he won in the 2008-2009 season, making him the younger Super Bowl-winning head coach in NFL history at the age of 36. Cowher was 12-9 in the playoffs and made two Super Bowl appearances and won one of them, as well. However, Cowher had his issues in the playoffs also. He was 2-4 in AFC Championship Games and all four losses came at home.
There's no doubt that Tomlin needs to be more productive in the playoffs, as just having winning seasons in Pittsburgh is not good enough. The standard is winning Lombardis.
The only two coaches in the league that are clearly above Tomlin are Bill Belichick and Andy Reid. Then the next tier is Tomlin, Sean Payton, Pete Carroll and John Harbaugh. You don't hear about Payton, Carroll and Harbaugh's playoff failures as much as Tomlin's though. Like Tomlin, all three have won one Super Bowl apiece and have or had a franchise quarterback. Think about all the playoff losses that Payton had with Drew Brees when they were legit Super Bowl contenders. In the postseason, Payton is 9-8, Carroll is 11-10 (10-8 with Seattle) and Harbaugh is 11-8.
The point is, it's not easy to win in the NFL, especially in the playoffs. And Tomlin has been consistent as they come. Yeah, he doesn't have six Super Bowl titles like Bill Belichick, but no one else comes close either. He's arguably the greatest coach in NFL history.
The Steelers made the right move to extend Tomlin's contract for three more years through the 2024 season. He was in the final year of his deal and had a club option in 2022. His prior contract extension came in July of 2019 and look what he did that season without Ben Roethlisberger for almost the entire year and having to deal with Mason Rudolph and Devlin "Duck" Hodges as the quarterbacks, he still managed to have the team competitive and finished the season 8-8. In 2020, the Steelers got off to a franchise-best record of 11-0 and then the wheels fell off and they collapsed, losing five of their last six games, including the embarrassing first-round playoff loss to the Browns at Heinz Field.
Tomlin certainly deserves some ownership of that collapse, but it wasn't all on him. They had no running game and Randy Fichtner was subpar as an offensive coordinator. Fichtner is gone now and the Steelers are working on rebuilding the offensive line and getting a top-tier running back in the draft.
Tomlin will also be a part of the transition when trying to find the heir apparent to Ben Roethlisberger, so the three-year extension makes sense. Who would you replace Tomlin with? Tomlin would have a new head coaching job within 10 seconds if the Steelers were to get rid of him. Players love playing for him and he's a great motivator, who is a straight shooter and doesn't sugarcoat things. Just watch the clip below of Tomlin telling Maurkice Pouncey how it is during his rookie season.
Like it or not, Tomlin is on track of someday being in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I mean, he's going to surpass Cowher's regular-season win total this year and Cowher is getting inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August. He needs to be better in the playoffs for sure, but the Steelers got a great coach in Tomlin, who will eventually have a bust in Canton.