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Mike Tomlin Finishes Ninth In Head Coach Power Rankings

Elliot Harrison posted his annual head coach power rankings yesterday for the NFL’s website.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off back-to-back non-winning seasons, missing the playoffs in both seasons and having failed to win their division, let alone a playoff game, since 2010.

Accordingly, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is ranked ninth, immediately behind Denver Broncos coach John Fox and Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, the two teams that most recently competed for the Super Bowl.

Here is what is written for Tomlin’s entry on the list:

Tomlin took the proverbial baton in Pittsburgh from Bill Cowher, who got it from the late, legendary Chuck Noll. Although not necessarily regarded as a “premier” head coach, Tomlin has enjoyed great success since he was hired in 2007. Interestingly enough, some league observers feel he deserves more respect, while others have him on the hot seat in Pittsburgh. What you can’t take away from him is the Super Bowl ring he won in the 2008 season, as well as another appearance on the big stage two years later. Not a bad seven-year run.

Of course, Tomlin already has one Super Bowl from his second season in 2008. He also has a second trip to the title game in his pocket from 2010.

It is true, however, that those are the only two years in his seven-year tenure in which the team has won a single playoff game. His teams have been one-and-done twice, while missing the playoffs the other three seasons.

Even in some of those down seasons, however, there are elements of his strong coaching. In none of them, for example, did the Steelers post a losing record. In all three, the team either started strong or finished strong.

In 2009, the Steelers were 6-2 before injuries derailed a promising season. They lost five straight before coming back to win the last three games, barely missing the postseason.

The 2012 season saw Pittsburgh get off to a 6-3 start, but Ben Roethlisberger’s injury knocked him out for three weeks, and he wasn’t the same player when he returned. The team finished 2-5 in those last seven games, including a 1-3 record with Roethlisberger.

And last season, of course, the team went through quite a bit of adversity early on, losing their first four games. They went 8-4 after that, however, including a 6-2 run during the second half of the season, again barely missing the playoffs.

The Steelers’ second-half turnaround last season is perhaps one of the highlights of Tomlin’s career, forcing his team to carry on and not pack it in, getting them to believe in themselves and in the possibility of success despite the hole they had to climb out of.

Still, consecutive seasons without a playoff loss knocked Tomlin down a peg or two. Last season, he was ranked seventh in the head coach power rankings, being described then as entrenched.

Despite what success Tomlin may have, there will likely always be a bit of a shadow over it. He works for one of the most stable organizations in the league. He inherited a strong roster, not to mention a franchise quarterback, that he won with. But there’s a reason that he’s so widely respected both by players and other coaches.

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