Mike Tomlin has two years left on his contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers. This is usually around the time we can expect an extension for a Steelers head coach. In 2017, Tomlin’s extension was announced in August, so it is no surprise we haven’t heard anything just yet. The circumstances this year are quite different however. The Steelers are coming off back to back disastrous finishes to their seasons. Two years ago it was the embarrassment of losing at home to an inferior Jacksonville, and of course there is last year’s missing the playoffs entirely. No one could blame Mr. Rooney if he decided to wait to see how this season turns out before committing to a long-term extension for his head coach. Here are some of the main reasons we will not see Mike Tomlin’s contract extended this year:
Nobody can deny that the Pittsburgh Steelers have been a train wreck at times over the last five years. There wasn’t a single team that provided sports talk shows more content than this one. Even the great Bill Belichick would have found it nearly impossible to reign in the likes of Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell, and Martavis Bryant. But that’s kind of the point, right? No coach should ever have to deal with the nonsense those players produced. So here we are with the quieter (albeit less talented) 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers. There are many (this site included) who have long maintained this team would be better off without those players. Art Rooney would be wise to take this year and see how Mike Tomlin does without these disruptive players.
IT’S THE DEFENSE:
We are in around year ten of the defense rebuild. After countless first round draft picks, we are no closer to a dominant defense than we were when the rebuild started. This really has been the Achilles Heel for Mike Tomlin. His stubbornness to move on from Keith Butler may finally be his undoing. Tomlin and Butler have been unable to turn this defense around despite seven straight first round picks used to address that side of the ball. This year’s first round pick Devin Bush is widely regarded as the missing piece to finally making this defense a strength instead of a weakness. He better be, or that extension we all expect for Tomlin may never come at all.
IS IT THE GENERAL MANAGER?
Kevin Colbert is about to enter his nineteenth season as general manager of the Pittsburgh Steelers. After his most tumultuous off-season to date, one has to wonder how much longer he wants to do this. Colbert’s contract is actually up before Tomlin’s, being only good through the 2020 draft. There has been lots of talk about Tomlin’s extension, but what about Colbert’s? Is he planning on retiring when his contract is up? If so, would Art Rooney be waiting to hire the next general manager before extending the head coach? It would be only right to give a new general manager some say in the head coach if this scenario were to play out. There’s a lot of speculation here, but it’s at least worth thinking about.
Any of these reasons alone would be enough for Art Rooney to let the 2019 play out before giving Mike Tomlin a new contract. Taking all of them in total, it would be an outright mistake to do it now. There is much to be learned about why this team has underachieved the past few seasons. Was it the distractions? The defense? The players? The coordinator? We should have plenty of answers after this season. Those answers will make it an easy decision for the big one………Was it the head coach??