For a guy that Terry Bradshaw minimized and marginalized as a “great cheerleader,” Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Tomlin seemed to have his team functioning on all cylinders and his decision-making and intellectual grasp of the game was efficient enough to lead the Steelers to a 30-12 beat down of Miami in an AFC Wild Card game on Sunday.
The 10th African-American head coach in NFL history utilized a winning formula; smash-mouth, ground-control, old school Steelers football and behind 167 yards rushing by Le’Veon Bell, advanced to his second straight divisional round game and a few games away from his third Super Bowl trip.
Tomlin had his pom poms in full swing on Sunday, but he also had a game plan and a playoff poise about him that you only find in seasoned coaches. Honestly speaking, the young, heralded up-and-comer Adam Gase wasn’t in Tomlin’s league as a maestro of gridiron magnificence on Sunday.
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Tomlin has a 103-57 career record. In 10 seasons he’s made the playoffs seven times and has never had a losing record.
Tomlin’s name may never pop into Terry Bradshaw’s aged mind when “we think about great coaches in the NFL,” but Mike isn't focused on the ignorance.
A winning machine like Tomlin definitely gets the respect of his contemporaries and receives major props from guys who are still relevant in today’s game. When we think of gangsta coaches, however, even Bradshaw can’t deny that a coach that is willing to trip an opposing team’s player is grinding for keeps. That’s a next level kind of “by any means necessary.”
In any event, it would be very ironic if the Steelers were motivated and inspired to Super Bowl success by the demeaning and callous comments of an ex-Steelers great. I guess we would then call Bradshaw a genius and give him credit for motivating the team and all would be well in Steelersville.
The road to the Super Bowl is a formidable one for the Steelers as New England once again stands in the way of AFC supremacy, but if there’s one guy who is tailor made to coach a specific team, it’s Tomlin in Pittsburgh. He was handpicked to follow a legend in Bill Cowher and not only enhanced the Steelers legacy but is winning at a greater rate. He is the face of NFL diversity and one of the most significant figures in league history as he was the first African-American coach to be hired under the protocols set in place by the Rooney Rule, specifically instituted to give young African-American coaches a fair shot at leading a team.
Bradshaw’s comments, if anything, were a reminder to Tomlin not to rest on his laurels or get too comfortable because daggers and blindside hits come from the most unsuspecting forces of evil. With his QB sporting a protective ankle boot at the post game press conference, Tomlin will have to flex even more of his coaching prowess if Big Ben can't go next week.
One thing is for certain. As Tomlin prepares to battle Kansas City on January 15th, he does so with all of the qualities that comprise a thoroughbred coach. And a style that is personal and perfect for today's game, today’s players and sustaining success in a league that can chew the greatest of coaches up and spit them out like sunflower seeds on the side of the curb.
Talk is cheap in the NFL, but as Tomlin’s win record continues to rise like yeast, his track record speaks for itself.