The argument of Bruce Arians vs Mike Tomlin as to who is the better head coach just got a whole lot tougher. Now that Arians has a Super Bowl trophy, the argument can be made that he has now surpassed his former boss in Pittsburgh. Let’s take a look at both career’s to help us make the decision:
The Case for Mike Tomlin:
We are all pretty familiar with Mike Tomlin’s resume as head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tomlin has never had a losing season in his fifteen years as a head coach. He has two Super Bowl appearances, with one win (XLIII). Tomlin has one coach of the year trophy under his belt in 2008. This is undeniably one of the most successful head coaches in NFL history.
The second half of Tomlin’s coaching reign hasn’t gone nearly as well as the first half however. The Steelers have not had a Super Bowl appearance since 2011. They haven’t won a single playoff game since the 2016 season. In fact since the Super Bowl loss to Green Bay, Mike Tomlin is 3-6 in the post season. Ironically, or maybe not, the playoff struggles have all come since the firing of Bruce Arians in 2012.
The Case for Bruce Arians:
Bruce Arians has had quite the wild ride since his “retirement” from the Steelers in 2012. For the record Arians maintains he was fired, rather than retiring as Pittsburgh would have you believe. https://youtu.be/kzHH0QWNo7c
Shortly after leaving the Steelers, Arians was hired as the offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts. He would become the interim head coach after Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with cancer early on in the 2012 season. Arians led the Colts to the playoffs, and subsequently was named to his first coach of the year honor. From there he was hired as head coach of the Arizona Cardinals where he once again won Coach of the Year in 2014. The Cardinals had two playoff appearances in five years under Arians.
After “retiring” for a second time, Bruce Arians accepted the head coaching job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Arians had an up and down 2019 season which saw his quarterback Jamies Winston throw an astounding 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. Quarterback was clearly a position that needed an upgrade.
The Buccaneers added Tom Brady last off-season, and the rest is history. Bruce Arians earned his first Super Bowl trophy as a head coach, but his third overall. He won two with the Steelers, first as a receivers coach in Super Bowl XL. A few years later Arians got his second title as the Steelers offensive coordinator for their win Super Bowl XLIII.
As much as this pains us, we are going to have to give this one to Bruce Arians. Mike Tomlin’s failures in the post season over the last ten years has really hurt his legacy. 2020 was a real opportunity to turn that narrative around with the return of Ben Roethlisberger, and an elite defense at his disposal. We even predicted this would be a coach of the year campaign for Tomlin. Mike Tomlin is the best bet for 2020 Coach of the Year
Instead we got another immensely disappointing playoff performance. The Steelers were embarrassed at home by the Covid 19 depleted Cleveland Browns. Unfortunately this has become far too common for Mike Tomlin coached teams.
On the other end of the spectrum we have Bruce Arians. He too had an excellent opportunity in 2020, but unlike Tomlin he made the most of it capturing a Super Bowl title. Arians ability to adapt to changing times, and win under a variety of circumstances makes him the superior NFL head coach in our opinion.