I Like Mike Tomlin, Steelers' New Head Coach - By Matt Savrock
Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial
|The Steelers found themselves in the unfamiliar position of searching for a new head coach this offseason. Fortunately, the search concluded with a good hire, former Vikings defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin.
At the beginning of the process, Tomlin was a longshot. His youth and defensive background fit the mold for new Steelers hires (to the extent that a team with this much stability has a mold). |He also has a thin resume, with only one year as a coordinator. This put him behind other candidates such as Ken Whisenhunt, Russ Grimm, and Ron Rivera. But the Rooneys saw something special in Tomlin during the interview process, and Tomlin won a job that requires him to uphold the NFL's greatest tradition.
Tomlin will be successful for a number of reasons. First, the Steelers are an exceptionally well-run organization, and that includes making the right personnel decisions. Don't be fooled by the fact that Tomlin is only the second new coach since the merger (Noll was hired just before it.) Hiring a new head coach isn't the only decision ownership makes. There are a lot of less visible front-office positions that contribute to on-field success, and retaining a coach, as the Rooneys did with Cowher in the late 1990s, is also a major decision. The Rooneys' loyalty to Cowher, even during the bad times of the late 1990s, paid off with a Lombardi Trophy.
Another reason to like Tomlin is that he has exactly the right winning attitude. He understands what it means to be head coach of the Steelers, but isn't afraid of the difficult task of upholding that legacy. More importantly, he has already avoided a major pitfall of coaching. By retaining Dick LeBeau as defensive coordinator, he proved his willingness to change his system to fit the personnel, instead of giving in to the temptation to make immediate changes. We may see the Steelers playing a Tampa Two scheme in the future, or a hybrid system in the near future. But for now, Tomlin understands that the Steelers' system isn't broken like the Vikings' was, and there is no good reason to change it this season.
Tomlin should have little trouble duplicating the success he had in his short tenure as Minnesota's defensive coordinator. Although the Vikings' overall record was less than impressive, their defense put up some excellent numbers. They were the best in the NFL against the run, allowing just 2.8 yards per carry. That wasn't just fattening their numbers against Detroit--they held Miami's Ronnie Brown to just two yards and shut down other notables such as Frank Gore and Willis McGahee. They allowed only one 100-yard rusher, Stephen Jackson in the season finale. Stopping the run is one of the biggest keys to success, especially for a smashmouth team like the Steelers.
And all this was only one year after a disastrous season that opened up the jobs on Minnesota's sideline. Imagine what he can accomplish with a group of players that recently won a championship.