Bucky Brooks: Mike Tomlin’s Ability To Coax ‘Victories From A Flawed Roster’ Should Make Him Coach Of The Year
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 6-3, and as I’m sure you’ve heard, the team has been out-gained in all nine of their games so far, becoming the only team to have a winning record under that circumstance. It’s a stat that’s gotten as tired as hearing that Mike Tomlin doesn’t have a losing record, but the fact that the Steelers are still finding ways to win has been impressive. The way they’ve continued to win has earned Tomlin a lot of respect this season, and NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks writes for NFL.com that Tomlin’s currently his pick to win Coach of the Year
“There is no better NFL coach when it comes to coaxing victories from a flawed roster. Tomlin has mastered winning games by utilizing various complementary football strategies to overcome his squad’s deficiencies,” Brooks writes. “While Tomlin’s squad does not win with pizzazz, Pittsburgh has a knack for forcing opponents to play on their terms in ugly contests. The workmanlike approach required to beat the Steelers takes opposing players and coaches out of their comfort zones, resulting in more mistakes and miscues in key moments. Moreover, Tomlin’s winning pedigree utilizing various styles has given his players the confidence that they can win in any circumstance.”
To say that the Steelers don’t with pizzazz is quite the understatement. Every game is So. Damn. Ugly. But Tomlin and the Steelers have seemingly perfected the art of winning a game they have absolutely no business winning. They’re +10 in turnover margin, which is tied for first in the NFL, and they get timely turnovers too. They had two interceptions in the end zone against the Green Bay Packers, taking potential points off the board and the defense is the definition of bend, don’t break.
With an offense that’s struggled, the splash plays help give the Steelers offense opportunities to score, if the defense isn’t scoring themselves. Two defensive touchdowns were the key to victory in Week Two against the Cleveland Browns, and Pittsburgh’s defense, particularly T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, are the reason why this team is 6-3.
The offense has started to finally get going the last two weeks by leaning on the run, as they’ve ran for over 160 yards in each of their last two games. If they can continue that success on the ground and make the run game their identity, this team could get better in the second half of the season.
The key to them actually turning into contenders is going to be getting QB Kenny Pickett going. Pickett has seemingly regressed from the way he finished the 2022 season, and the Steelers are going to need him to be better down the stretch.
But they can’t be upset at 6-3 right now, and they could make the playoffs with a team that is inherently flawed. Tomlin deserves a lot of credit for that, and if he keeps the Steelers rolling, he could find himself winning his first-ever Coach of the Year award. It’s impressive what he’s done with this team, and I do think it’s fair to argue that this team would be a lot worse if they had a different coach at the helm.
Tomlin’s ability to win ugly and muck games up has benefited a team that hasn’t been good on offense and has made the timely plays on defense needed to win. If it continues, or if the Steelers offense can find a way to improve and the defense tightens up a bit more down the stretch, Tomlin should start planning his trip to the NFL Honors ceremony