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2016 South Side Questions: Is Mike Tomlin A Great Head Coach?

The regular season is here, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the real work is now upon us, there is plenty left to be done.

And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they wade through a regular season in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.

Question: Is Mike Tomlin a great head coach?

First of all, Merry Christmas Eve, to all those who celebrate it.

I guess now is a good a time as any to open up this can of worms. Yesterday, former Steelers Hall of Famer quarterback and four-time Super Bowl winner Terry Bradshaw gave his (admittedly somewhat uninformed) opinion about current Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, during which he repeatedly denied that the 10-year leader of the team recently won his 100th game is not a great head coach.

In fact, his comments seemed to go even further beyond denying that he’s great, seeming to even question how good of a coach he really is, beyond having his players apparently like him. Bradshaw called him a cheerleader for that reason.

So, needless to say, that opens up an obvious topic of discussion. We are getting through 10 years into Tomlin’s tenure with the Steelers, and we are on the eve of him possibly winning the AFC North for the fifth time in that span, in addition to him securing his seventh total postseason berth.

He has posted a 101-57 record in his first 158 games, and has the 10th-best winning percentage in NFL history among the 40 coaches who have achieved 100 wins. He has brought the Steelers to the Super Bowl twice, winning once, although from 2011 to 2014 they failed to win a playoff game, losing in the Wildcard round twice and missing the playoffs twice.

While there are many who do believe that Tomlin is a great coach, there are also many who are with Bradshaw—and that is something that we saw with abundant clarity in the comments section of said article yesterday. There are also many who feel that his legacy is ultimately yet to be determined.

It is true that Tomlin is on the precipice of a very interesting period of his career. All parties admit that the team has been experiencing a transitional phase in the past few seasons, and the fruits of that labor now appear to be blooming.

A win over the Ravens tomorrow would certainly look great for the pro-Tomlin argument right now, but it would be equally great ammunition for the opposing argument should he fall to Baltimore again. The Steelers have lost their top rivals in their last four games, including in the 2014 playoffs—though Tomlin’s team did beat the Ravens in the playoffs in 2008 and 2010 en route to Super Bowl appearance.

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