Mike Tomlin Could Finish With Most Wins During First 11 Seasons If Steelers Win Out

Win, lose, or draw, one thing that we can always count on hearing before every game, after every game, and during every game is the desperate plea of delusional Pittsburgh Steelers fans to “Fire Mike Tomlin”, just the team’s third head coach since 1969, who has been here for 11 years and holds the franchise’s best winning percentage.

In fact, according to Dom Rinelli, he has the opportunity this season to accomplish something rather remarkable, although it certainly would not be easy. Following the 10-2 start to his 11th season as a head coach, Tomlin now has 113 career wins under his belt in the regular season.

The record for the most wins in a coach’s first 11 seasons just so happens to be 117, and should the Steelers win out during their final four games, they would allow Tomlin to reach 117 wins.

There will as always be caveats, of course, and it will always be pointed out that you can’t compare across eras. For example, the record is owned by Don Shula, but he spent the first 15 years of his coaching career navigating 14-game seasons, so he will have played 22 fewer games. Shula posted a winning percentage of .750 or better in seven of his first 11 seasons, while Tomlin has done it three times, with a fourth pending if he wins two more games.

Of course, Shula coaches in the early days of the modern NFL, when far less parity existed, so that is certainly another argument to be had. But there are so many equivocations that can be broached that it’s really best to quit while we’re already behind.

At 113 wins, Tomlin already stands sixth all-time in wins during a coach’s first 11 seasons, and should he prevail over the Ravens at home on Sunday, that will tie him for third all-time with Tony Dungy, George Seifert, and current Packers coach Mike McCarthy, the two of whom have shared similar career paths.

Joe Gibbs’s 115 wins stands as the second-most all-time, and while he did coach exclusively in the era of the 16-game season, it is worth noting that he coached through the strike-shortened 1982 season, going 8-1 that year. He also won three Super Bowls and went to four, so there is that.

Much as some might be loathe to admit it, Tomlin’s bona fides as time wears on are adding up. His career wining percentage of .657 stands as the 15th-best in NFL history, or the 11th among coaches with 100 games under their belt. It is also the eighth-best mark among coaches with 100 or more wins.

He will, of course, as all coaches ultimately are, be judged upon how he performs in the postseason. If the Steelers do manage to reach the Super Bowl this year, he will be just the 13th head coach to make it there three times. He could also become the 14th to win it twice. But we still have a long way to go for that.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Steve Johnson

    Very interesting stats; he needs to get pass New England, possibly twice this year. If he does that and the win the Super Bowl, I think he will silence some of his critics (to include myself).

  • FATCAT716

    Not bad for a “cheerleader”

  • FATCAT716

    If that’s all you or anyone else have as far criticism of him that’s not bad. In fact New England is a NFL problem there not just a Steelers issue or Tomlin issue

  • Detractors don’t care.

  • AndyR34

    He should follow Matthew’s advice to “quit while you’re already behind”. 😂

  • Most of Tomlin’s wins happen for two reasons. Early on, he won with Cowher’s guys, now his team wins in spite of him and his coaching staff/strategies/decisions…


  • falconsaftey43

    sadly, some actually believe this.

  • Ray

    yea is this sarcasm or are you for real?

  • Sarcasm.

  • Sad indeed…

  • DirtDawg1964

    Yeah, well, he loses to teams he should beat (which means he must be winning against teams he shouldn’t). And he’s not winning them well enough. Doesn’t make second half adjustments. And when he does it just proves his initial game plan wasn’t good enough. And he can’t draft. And the good guys he drafted fell to him. And he talks funny. He’s just a cheerleader.

    It’s hard to win in this league. Even the GOAT Belichick has only won five times. And I say “only” in jest. But even he can’t win it every year. And even his teams fall down on the job. And yes, even he has made some stupid mistakes.

    If Tomlin win a SB against the Packers they’d still say he won with Cowher’s guys. And if he wins the SB this year, or once in the next ten years, his detractors will say it was too few wins with far too many good teams. Unless he tears off three or four in a row, I suspect his detractors won’t be happy.

    He’s a good coach. Likely even a great one. What he definitively isn’t, is a lousy one. No sensible person can make that argument. And yet they try.

  • Aaron Harchak

    Like it or not the chances of landing a head coach that is an upgrade are slim.

  • Roblisberger

    His team wins in spite of him? He along with Colbert built this team from the ground up so if you’re gonna say the players are winning despite his coaching you have to give him credit for helping to acquire the great players we have

  • Iulo

    except you cheat!

  • FATCAT716

    I get it

  • Dan

    Had to look it up after reading this…Madden was only HC for 10 years (9 were 14-game seasons) and had 103 wins. Would have had to go 14-2 in an 11th season to tie Shula.

  • falconsaftey43

    it was sarcasm

  • PaeperCup

    You know, there is an ever so small part of me that thinks losing to New England wouldn’t be the worst thing.

    When was the last time someone beat New England twice in a season. I’m also a strong believer that keeping a streak going is much tougher than winning after a loss. Sometimes it’s good to lose a game before the playoffs.

  • SkoolHouseRoxx

    I think the Broncos when they won the Superbowl. I’m not totally sure tho. If my memory serves me correctly.

  • SteelersGeek4Lyfe

    He’s not #1 already? Cheerleader! Kick him out! Just horrible, horrible, terrible.

  • Benchmark

    Sir you lost ALL Credibility on this Statement. “Even the GOAT Belichick”
    Let’s review your GOATs Championships.

    1. A new rule was created “Tuck Rule” during the game against Oakland. Funny, I thought rules were created in the off season not Playoffs. Not to mention it was right after 9/11 and everyone was being a Patriot for them to win. GAME FIXED.
    And I hate OAKLAND!

    2 and 3. Have you heard the words “SPY GATE” before? The commissioner had the evidence of the BIGGEST Sports Scandal since the BLACK SOX in the 1900’s and he destroyed the tapes. It would have Destroyed the NFL also. Ever wonder why the FBI didn’t investigate? (There are also murders and Point Shaving to this date that both the last two FBI Directors covered up for the NFL). Ask any Steeler of those years about this and you will get anger from them, because they were cheated out a Super Bowl in there opinion.

    4. Pete Carroll! Enough said when you have the best Power Runner in the game and you Pass the ball. That was Stupidity on his counter part not BeliCHEAT.

    5. The Collapse. Another Great coaching job and a few well time calls to get them back into the game.

    So how Great is BeliCHEAT, well he is the GOAT of Cheating! He should have been permanently barred from the NFL but was not Thanks to someone we all Loved and Respected.

  • Joey

    I know it is wishful thinking on my part, but how awesome would it be if the Patriots got knocked out by the Titans or Jacksonville?

  • Benchmark

    Wait! I saw him assist in a tackle once against the Ravens:)
    Does that count?

  • MJK

    but ? can he win a superbowl or ? can he beat the PATRIOTS?

  • Lee Foo Young

    Gee…I could’ve sworn he won one and should’ve won another.

    But, why let facts get in the way of your statement?

  • Bill

    Chances of Steelers beating the Patriots in a meaningful game were never that good; with the present injuries they’re just about nil. Bill B. has always been a superior coach, especially at getting back up players to play at a high level. Against any other team Steelers would have a good chance to win all the marbles. Maybe some day the defensive minded head coach can teach Burns how to cover a wheel route from the slot.

  • dany

    You won’t see me crying about it. Winning trumps “beating demons from the past”

  • Obi Ryn Denobi

    This season with all of its distractions that would promptly tear most teams apart, but brush past his Steelers with hardly a ripple, is already up there with 2013 as one of his finest ever! True greatness is judged not by all of your accolades, but how you handle adversity and Mike Tomlin is ridiculously unflappable!!

    And more importantly, so is his whole team!!!

  • RyanW

    I’m convinced Tomlin could go 19-0 and win every single game 42-0 and there will still be people that want him fired. Like all coaches he has his flaws but his record speaks for itself.

  • Steve

    Actually the article is talking about win during the regular season.

  • Steve

    In 2008 when the Steelers beat the Cards, New England was not in the playoff that year.

  • Steve

    Problem is Tomlin looks ahead to games, like New England , Instead of taking one game at a time. Does not commit his full effort to the game at hand.

  • Steve

    Carroll is smart and takes what the opponent gives him.

  • Steve

    Ben came from a Cowher draft, BS.

  • Steve

    Will say that Tomlin has improved, clock, time and timeout management.

  • Steve

    Bilacheat is a Hall of Fame coach and loves to bring up coaches within his system. But his players are in the decline, after years of drafting near the bottom. Bill knows how to exploit weaknesses and come out winning, with his foot on the throttle.

  • Obi Ryn Denobi

    His game management has always been a work in progress. It’s one thing to Monday morning from your couch when it doesn’t work and quite another to make sh*t up on the fly with a 40-second clock and two or more opinions in your ear.

    His team management, player and team assessment, maintenance and flexible standardized development, position coach and coordinator interaction without intrusion and micro-management as well as his community and fan interaction and even-tempered media stroking are all second to none ever!

    ALL of it carefully creating and maintaining a easily understood and standard atmosphere, in coordination with the front office and his staff and coaches, quietly and good natured-ly, allowing everyone to know what’s expected and giving them the chance to excel, week in week out, year in year out, that most of this league would sacrifice their virgin daughters for!!

    Mike Tomlin is just the boss.

  • RyanW

    Ben wasn’t Cowhers pick he was Rooneys. It’s been well documented.

  • RyanW

    Tomlin isn’t looking ahead, he answered the question that he knows everyone will keep asking him, he even said  if we’re both doing what we’re supposed to do, the second one is really going to be big, that’s the same as flat out saying they’ve got other games to win.

  • Steve

    What a Genious.

  • SteelerDieHard

    Love the last paragraph. Well said.

  • SteelerDieHard

    Another great statement. I’ve spent my career in coaching, this sounds as if you’ve done a lot as well. Real coaches recognize all of that. Perfectly stated …

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Weird but sorta true…Bob Prine called it the “hidden vigorish.”

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    I’m a Cowher fan but if you recall BC’s last season wasn’t a great one. 7-9 or 8-8 ish. So that blows that narrative to hell. MT has never had a losing season and has a .655 win %. Yeah they should fire him. Who in the Sam hell would replace him? Pittsburgh’s own Ben Ben McAdoo?

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    I miss d the tongue in cheek!

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Aaron Rogers who many think is the better QB only has one ring…your point is?

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Now we know how Bum Phillips felt….

  • Steve

    Yes and Rogers and Co. Beat the Steelers in Jerrys World.
    And your point is?

  • Steve

    Saints coach Sean Payton was suspended for a year a few years back for Bounty Gate. Was very surprised Belicheat was not suspended for his Deflategate, Spygate cheating ways to win games.

  • Steve

    Tomlin sure is looking ahead to New England.

  • Joeybaggadonuts

    Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson aside, most SB winning QB’s are in the HOF. In order to win one you damn well better have a good QB or a great D. Some of it is luck…who is healthiest at the end of the year and playing the best. Tomlin usually has his teams trending upward and in the hunt. Health has derailed the Steelers last couple of campaigns. Losing AB & Bell at key times has contributed to their playoff demise. My point is they’re not easy to win…even with a great QB or a great D. It is a slog. Talk of firing Tomlin ludicrous.

  • Steve Johnson

    That’s not the only criticism, it is the main one though. And for the record, I really don’t care about the other 31 teams, just the Steelers.

  • Randy G.

    Interesting enough is that all of these coaches HAD ELITE QUARTERBACKS.