Mike Tomlin and his Pittsburgh Steelers began the season out 0-3. They misplaced future Corridor of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to a season-ending elbow harm in Week 2.
The demise of this “once-vaunted” group was upon us. Or so we thought. Pittsburgh has gained eight of 10 since these darkish days in September. The one widespread denominator being head coach Mike Tomlin.
Off the highest: Tomlin discovered himself on the recent seat as not too long ago as Week 3’s loss to the San Francisco 49ers. It’s a recreation Pittsburgh misplaced regardless of forcing 5 turnovers.
Issues haven’t been the identical since. Drama has engulfed the group. Accidents, too. Regardless of this, Pittsburgh continues to play good and nice soccer below Tomlin. It has him going from scorching seat to Coach of the Yr candidate.
Allow us to clarify.
It began in March: Pittsburgh misplaced two All-Professional performers and potential future Corridor of Famers on the peak of their careers. That’s one thing no staff in fashionable league historical past can say.
- After sitting out the complete 2018 season, operating again Le’Veon Bell bolted Pittsburgh for a lesser staff within the Jets. He went full Rod Tidwell “present me the cash.”
- Star receiver Antonio Brown’s spat with Huge Ben led to Pittsburgh buying and selling him to the Oakland Raiders in a deal that wouldn’t have even been accepted by “Madden.”
- The top outcome was these Steelers having to depend on two gamers in James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster who’ve proven flashes however haven’t been the true No. 1 choices of their NFL careers.
It has not gone swimmingly: Some figured that Pittsburgh wouldn’t lose a beat with Conner and Smith-Schuster because the focal factors on offense. They’ve been confirmed mistaken.
- Conner has handled myriad accidents in his first season as Pittsburgh’s unquestioned No. 1 again. He’s already missed 4 video games and has put up a grand complete of 390 dashing yards heading into Week 15.
- That’s a far cry from Conner changing Bell to the tune of 1,470 complete yards and 13 touchdowns as a sophomore final season.
- Smith-Schuster has recorded all of 38 receptions for 524 yards in 10 video games. Greater than something, he appears to be impacted by Roethlisberger’s absence.
- Bear in mind, the previous USC standout tallied an absurd 111 catches for 1,426 yards throughout a Professional Bowl efficiency as a sophomore final season.
Choosing up the items: Nobody might have envisioned Pittsburgh having success with Conner and Smith-Schuster each injury-plagued and within the midst of down seasons.
- Benny Snell? Jaylen Samuels? Trey Edmunds? These are the three backs Pittsburgh has been counting on with Conner struggling to stay on the sector.
- Snell is a rookie fourth-round choose. Samuels was chosen within the fifth spherical of the 2018 NFL Draft. Edmunds went undrafted out of Maryland again in 2017.
- At receiver, Pittsburgh has been pressured to depend on rookie third-round choose Diontae Johnson a complete lot with fellow younger receiver James Washington struggling.
- That is the supporting solid that has helped the Steelers win eight of 10 and inch nearer to a playoff spot.
It’s in regards to the quarterback, dummy: Huge Ben had been a rock for this group over the higher a part of the previous 20 years. It led to questionable decision-making from common supervisor Kevin Colbert.
- Pittsburgh determined towards including a veteran behind the getting old Huge Ben this previous offseason. As a substitute, it determined to depend on second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph and undrafted rookie free agent Devlin Hodges.
- Given the hits Roethlisberger has taken and his superior age, this didn’t appear to be an amazing resolution from Colbert.
- Actually, the Steelers’ unwillingness to spend a high-round choose on a quarterback lately has led to some criticism of an in any other case sturdy entrance workplace philosophy.
Making do: Regardless of rostering two unproven signal-callers behind an getting old veteran, Tomlin has labored wonders with the quarterback room.
- As soon as Huge Ben went down in Week 2, all appeared to be misplaced for the Steelers. Some figured a company that’s boasted essentially the most continuity within the NFL over the previous half century was about to fall flat.
- Enter into the equation a head coach in Tomlin who didn’t panic. Regardless of apparent limitations, Rudolph went 5-Three as a starter earlier than being benched for Hodges. That got here after the ugly Week 11 incident in Cleveland.
- All Hodges has accomplished as a rookie is put up a 3-Zero report as a starter with limitations himself.
The underside line
Duck Hodges, Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell and Diontae Johnson. These are the unknowns Pittsburgh threw on the market in profitable its eighth recreation in 10 tries final week towards Arizona.
At this level, it appears that evidently the Steelers’ widespread success could be linked to Tomlin’s teaching skill and the setting he’s constructed within the Metal Metropolis.
To a lesser extent, it’s much like Invoice Belichick in New England. Insert X participant into the scheme and watch him shine. Le’Veon Bell’s struggles with the Jets add one other layer to this.
This has been the story for these Steelers over the previous a number of many years. It’s a company that has boasted a complete of three coaches for the reason that finish of the 1968 season.
It doesn’t matter what occurs over the ultimate three weeks of the common season and probably into the playoffs, don’t count on this to vary come January.
Not solely has Tomlin earned his stripes in Pittsburgh, this has been his best-ever teaching efficiency. It’s not shut. And it might result in a stunning Coach of the Yr award.