Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin To Be Tested in 2013

By Jeremy Hritz

We will see if Mike Tomlin is just a good coach or an outstanding coach in 2013.

This past week, many Pittsburgh Steelers starters departed for fat contracts with other teams, while the team reclaimed some old baggage by resigning the likes of Larry Foote, Ramon Foster, Matt Spaeth, David Johnson and Greg Warren.

None of the moves (or lack thereof) thus far have come as any surprise, as the Steelers are historically ultra-conservative in their approach to free agency. When all is said and done and the dust has cleared, the Steelers will not have signed any big name free agents.

And then there is the current scenario surrounding Emmanuel Sanders who apparently could end up with an offer sheet from the New England Patriots. If Sanders leaves, the Steelers will have a pedestrian wide receiving corps headlined by Antonio Brown and dinosaurs Jerricho Cotchery and Plaxico Burress.

Never has a draft been so important than the one looming this April. The current Steelers roster has many holes, as starters James Harrison, Casey Hampton, Mike Wallace, Keenan Lewis, Rashard Mendenhall, and possibly Sanders, will all move on to new organizations by the time the smoke clears. Considering the barely- average performance of Foote, the Steelers have talent needs at outside and inside linebacker, wide receiver, running back and depth needs at safety and on the defensive line. Ultimately, there aren’t many positions where the Steelers cannot use help.

With all of the needs that the Steelers do have as a result of the numerous departures, the loss of Sanders is potentially something that should be welcomed as it would result in the addition of a third round pick. While Sanders has played well, he is not the most durable, nor is he the most reliable receiver, as he has a tendency to fumble. With the addition of a third round pick, the Steelers can select a receiver early, and use their second and two third round picks to address linebacker, running back, and safety depth, and then add another receiver in the fourth round. Considering the receivers available in this draft, the Steelers may be able to upgrade at the position over what Wallace and Sanders provided.

With the many questions that are surrounding this team and the many new faces that will assume starting roles in 2013, the youth movement that long has been coming is here. With all of these new pieces in place, Tomlin’s ability to motivate and utilize the talents of his players will be put on display. Will he be able to motivate a mix of older, high-caliber players and unproven youngsters to win games and earn a spot in the playoffs? Or will his coaching allow for another year of mediocrity, gaffed by player misconduct and suspensions? Tomlin has had a solid career thus far with the Steelers, but no other year will challenge him as much as 2013 will.

Can his coaching overcome the flurry of offseason changes?

It better or it could be another long, disappointing year.

  • steeltown

    “Barely average performance of Foote” come on Hritz, little muckracking there I believe. Foote started and played all 16games led the Team in tackles and had 4sacks and FF’s to boot, yes he’s a step slow in coverage, but ‘barely average’ is a ridiculous statement

  • Steelers32

    We will find out, so far each move can have had a purpose (sans Lewis lol) that one I cant figure out but a little trust to the FO.
    Tomlin has a sink or swim year, so far so good.

  • CrRe

    His statistically good season was more of a product of the reduced play and production of the players around him and not based on the awesomeness of Foote’s play as such. Nevertheless, he did have a statistically good season.

  • disqus_wdLdx4W76r

    Foote’s play was Decent..Led the team in tackles..and had a few sacks. Not bad for a (old dude). He will get caught up in the wash on outside runs sometimes though but I think he was worth another year..A rookie draft pick wont start..and their not/ can’t spend $ on a above average MLB in Free Agency

  • moderatelysane

    Great post and right on point Jeremy. I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment of finding out whether Tomlin is good or great. I also agree that Foote was average at best. Remember when he lost his jock on the lesean McCoy TD run?

  • rizzo29

    I wouldn,t even consider Tomlin a good coach, he was blessed with a great talented team,when he was hired,now that the talent isn,t what it was his coaching ability is showing

  • Rubem Dornas

    I’m sorry but where did Hampton go? Didn’t hear nothing about him going to another team.

  • BoomDizzle

    Yet another person/post who refuses to mention Colbert’s name. When a draft pick turns out well it is because of Colbert. When a draft pick turns out poorly it is because of Tomlin. Now this season is a reflection on Tomlin’s coaching instead of all the other season ( a season where Tomlin has much less talent than ever before).

    This is an example of constantly moving the bar in order to blame Tomlin and give Colbert a pass for everything. Jeremy Hritz’s motives are clear. Avoid focusing on Colbert at all and instead blame Tomlin for this free agent mess and the losing season that is sure to follow.

  • Who did Hampton sign with?

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    Depending on how they draft and if we don’t turn this around to make the playoffs then I believe tomlin days will be numbered although I like him i think alot of people will be calling for his head

  • Foote is the definition of a joke. Okay his stats are fluffed but a stat they don’t keep track of is MISSED TACKLES. I think Foote had easily somewhere between 10-20 missed tackles this year and really hurt field position by continuing drives that should’ve stopped and making big plays bigger.

    One thing I would like to add is it seems like every year is the most important draft for the Steelers. Oh yeah, because they resign garbage instead of going after other guys in the league that can play. That should help the 2014 comp picks we get bc guys you sign from other teams is a determining factor in how high of picks you recieve. For example, the Dolphins signed Wallace and will probably lose Jake Long so that is a wash

  • Chris92021

    First of all, every year is a challenge in the NFL. If Hritz is implying that Coach Tomlin is on the hot seat for 2013, then I would have to disagree. Coach Tomlin is a very good coach and while I might question some of his decisions, the man has been to the Super Bowl twice in his first four seasons. You can’t argue with that success. I would not start putting Coach Tomlin on the hot seat until the Steelers miss the playoffs at least two more years in a row.

  • Superdriller316

    If your going to finger point players on missed tackles, you better blame the whole defense, because they all missed tackles. Ike’s missed tackle in the wildcard game. Troy’s bad angle in the first game this year. Teams running towards Ziggy and Woodley all the time, just to name a few. So the whole team didn’t get it done.

  • disqus_iO5BVeDQOq

    What was this defense ranked last year? Does any team have all pros at every spot? Get a grip people

  • rizzo29

    Look at the teams they lost too last year, When a team comes out and flat and unprepared that,s on the coach smartin up

  • Superdriller316

    First off, it will take a hell of a lot more than an 8-8 season to get Tomlin fired. Real Steeler fans would know this. How many HC’s have the Steelers had since 1969? Three… That says a lot for the Steelers. We don’t fire HC’s when they have a bad year. Go back and look at the losing seasons since ’69, there’s been a few and no one got fired. I think some of you fans are still pissed that Wiz didn’t get the job. To tell the truth, I’m glad he didn’t. He didn’t do much in AZ. If your not going to supports the system go be someone else’s fan. Just remember, there’s only one ARII and non of you are him. So none of you can fire anyone.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    I thought the same thing even searched the web came up empty

  • walter mason

    I agree and Foote and Foster are not “some old baggage.”

  • walter mason

    With the “reduced play” of others like Woodley, Foote stepped up his play. .

  • Tim Bodamer

    I think coaches are judged poorly whether they succeed or fail. Sure, some like Harbaugh, Bellicheat and a few others are master talent evaluators, motivators or game tacticians. But to me, a good leader is someone who motivates, plays to his player’s strengths and let’s his coaches coach. And that is hard to find. The Steelers need better players (or more productivity) rushing the QB, running the ball and getting turnovers. A seasoned Cortez, healthy Troy, a Jarvis Jones-type, a rookie rb (ball,bell or lattimore) and then Tomlin looks like HoF material.

  • Tim Bodamer

    Had nothing to do with a horrible pas rush, no turnovers, an injured offensive line and Ben throwing two boneheaded picks?

  • rizzo29

    Really losing to Oak, Tenn, Cle, Sd, they didn,t come to play those teams, let,s not hear excuses, every team has problems, So i guess i,m not a “REAL FAN” now cause god forbid I criticized them

  • dgh57

    Did anyone else besides Foote miss tackles last season?!!! There are 10 other players that play on defense!! FOOTBALL IS A TEAM SPORT believe it or not!!! Show me a LBer even a Pro Bowler that HASN’T missed a tackle!

  • steeltown

    I continue to be baffled by all the Foote haters.. its dumbfounding

    Again, yes he is a step slower than he used to be and not as good in coverage as a younger all pro ILB might be, but this guy is OUR ILB and filling the shoes of Farrior is no easy task and he stayed healthy all season on a Team where players were dropping like flies. I for one, was pleasantly surprised by his productivity and dependability….. Haters!

  • Superdriller316

    When Keisel said that they weren’t prepared, he wasn’t talking about the coaching, he was talking about the players. When a team loses everyone wants to blame the coaches. So if the D Line and OLB’s can’t beat an OL that was put together days before the game, that’s the coaches fault? I don’t think so. Sounds like piss poor player performance to me. That would be the SD game.

  • Superdriller316

    Your only blaming the coach. Try expanding it to the whole team as well. Players could have spent more time watching film, or in the weight room, working on technique. I could keep going if you want. Ben even said that he could have worked harder last year. So if your going to lay blame, make sure you point in the right direction.

  • Superdriller316

    Who’s been hiring that talent for the past 10 years or so? There is only one common denominator. Kevin Colbert. So if he can do it for Cowher I think he can do it for Tomlin. I think Tomlin even works for Colbert, so if the talent isn’t there. Once again your blaming the wrong person. From your comments, it sounds like you should go and be a Rat Bird fan since you have no idea what your talking about.

  • charles

    Sherlock Holmes said that there is no such things as a coincidence. Two separate seasons the Steelers have lost multiple games to poorly performing teams, neither did those poor teams play better after they beat the Steelers. This has to be in the back of any fans mind.
    Further, it is clear that Colbert doesnot care what the fans think, I respect that. It would still be great if our Dline had a breakout year beginning withMac and Heyward. That would take a lot of pressure off Tomlin and Colbert.

  • Superdriller316

    Also, I guess you’ve never heard the old saying, ” you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”.

  • rizzo29

    yup once again,If your negative about the steelers you can,t be a true fan.This season the teams they lost too and how they played was sad to see that falls on the head coach,

  • rizzo29

    why don,t you get your lips off of Tomlin ass, puppet

  • rizzo29

    For your info I unfortunately live in mass,as a steelers fan it,s a tough deal,listening to all the pat,s crap,but one thing i must say about them the coach has the team come to play every game

  • Superdriller316

    Your statement has no basis. What your saying we could have brought in a High School coach and went to two Super Bowls and won one. It’s one thing to have constructive criticism, it’s another to talk out you butt.

  • Superdriller316

    Are you one of those that are pissed that Wiz didn’t get the job? If so, NEWS FLASH, he sucks as a coach.

    Any time you think you can do it better than Tomlin, please feel free and go to ARII and apply for the job. Let me know how you make out, I love a good laugh. So put up or shut up.

  • rizzo29

    Mike Tomlin is that you

  • Superdriller316

    No it’s ARII

  • rizzo29

    They had to great coordinators Tomlin was just there for the ride

  • Superdriller316

    We have one great coordinator, if the other one was so good, why did he get fired? We will see what he does in Pittsburgh West.

    Like I said before apply for the job. Apply for the job, I need a good laugh.

  • rizzo29

    Tomlin wanted him gone he would get rid of Lebeau if he could but he knows there would be an uproar ,when you see him later tell him stop being a cheerleader and actually try to coach

  • Superdriller316

    You have the answers. Apply for the job. Be a man, put up or shut up.

  • rizzo29

    Just a fan speaking my mind, sorry to offend you mrs Tomlin

  • Superdriller316

    As a fan I’m put putting you in your place. You must have had a few to many Sam Adams because make no sense. I can do this all night. Your making yourself look like an ass

  • hergieburbur

    I really don’t get Hritz’s overwhelming obsession with offense. Every time I read one of his articles, I don’t even have to check to know who wrote it. 3 out of the first 5 picks on offense when we have severe needs at almost every spot on defense?

  • sean mcmartin

    At last,,The real Tomlin will have a shot to actually do it on his own. Cowher’s players are almost gome and the players left are not the outspoken leader they need..
    cam and ziggy already gave us a glimpse of his skills. I predict zero adjustments at halftime again this season..and at least one game like the san diego game where the players had not been properly motivated to compete. Tomlin is the George Sieffert of the AFC north. Took over a great team and now…