The conversation surrounding Mike Tomlin is so confusing. Pittsburgh is a game over .500, and with trips to Seattle and Baltimore remaining, the worst case scenario is the coach’s 16-year streak of winning seasons snaps with an 8-9 record.
The Steelers beat the Bengals handily, 34-11, on Saturday behind an anomaly Mason Rudolph game that had to be triggering for Pittsburgh fans who know the potential of their skill players. It also served as more proof that Kenny Pickett is inarguably trash and has regressed in year two. If fans want to get rid of Tomlin because he can’t turn chicken sh*t into a franchise QB, go for it. Shop the head coach, overreact to perceived locker room issues and see how little juice the next guy can wring out of this roster. Tomlin is 51. He’s dealt with as many personalities as Phil Jackson, and always, always keeps his house in order. Sure, he’s had a franchise quarterback the majority of his tenure, but Ben Roethlisberger was incontinent for the last four to five seasons of his career. Have people forgotten that the most productive years of Antonio Brown’s career came under Tomlin? Also, it’s not like Roethlisberger was drama free. Even in retirement, Big Ben thinks he knows what ails “his” franchise. Hey, jackal, shut up and let the grown-ups talk. Go start a Miami of Ohio podcast. George Pickens is acting like any other young, underutilized wide receiver. Najee Harris is doing all he can on offense that’s handcuffed to the radiator. Be thankful their frustrations haven’t included giving Pickett a swirly. If anyone is to blame for this current predicament, it’s now-retired Pittsburgh GM Kevin Colbert. Drafting a hometown QB, who locals knew deep down wasn’t the guy before he was selected, put the coaching staff in an impossible position. Anytime Pickett has a serviceable outing, or completes a pass over 20 yards, Steelers’ fans get a pang in their stomachs like a parent watching their kid get a base hit. Seriously, Pickett’s claim to fame at Pitt was Jordan Addison and a fake slide that’s now illegal. It’s impossible to be objective when your heart is involved. Why do you think Ryan Clark is saying all this wild stuff about his former and avowed favorite coach? Rudolph threw two touchdowns against the Bengals, or a third of the TDs Pickett has thrown all season. In addition to that, Pickens had his most productive game of 2023. If Saturday’s menial output is not enough evidence to convince the powers that draft that Pittsburgh needs another QB, someone in the front office is huffing paint. This season could’ve careened into the Allegheny months ago and the only reason pundits aren’t praising Tomlin’s coaching job is because he set the expectations sky high. What did anyone think was going to happen when the options were Pickett, Mitch Trubisky or Rudolph the red-nosed QB? If the Steelers go the way of the 2023 Patriots next season, then we can talk about Tomlin’s future. Until that point, the only concern for the Terrible Towels is how to let Pickett down easy.