After losing at home to Jacksonville in the divisional round – and looking completely unprepared in the process – Mike Tomlin is on the hot seat, or at least should be from many fans’ perspectives.
Is that fair?
“Listen, whether it’s fair or not fair – as Mike knows it – it kind of comes with the territory,” former Steelers coach and current NFL Today analyst Bill Cowher said on Taz & The Moose. “There’s very high expectations. A lot of people are looking at the fact that they looked beyond Jacksonville and (were) looking for this rematch with New England. (There was) a lot of talk about that. Those are fair judgments to make, but at the same time, Mike’s a good football coach. He’s got a good team down there.”
A team that many expected to face New England in the AFC Championship. Jacksonville, however, had something to say about that. The Jaguars beat the Steelers by 21 in Week 5, and they raced out to a 21-0 lead this past Sunday, ultimately winning 45-42.
“Last week, (the Steelers) went up against a team that’s beat them twice this year, and (the Jaguars) matched up well against them,” Cowher said. “Whether (the talking) fueled (Jacksonville’s) fire or not is irrelevant. The fact is, they played better than they did last week, and consequently they’re moving on. But Mike, the job he’s done there has been very consistent over a long period of time. His job status really isn’t in jeopardy.”
Unlike, say, Todd Haley, who was relieved of offensive coordinator duties. It does not appear that defensive coordinator Keith Butler will suffer the same fate.
“Talking with Mike, I know he’s a big part of the defense as well,” Cowher said. “But listen, when Ryan Shazier went down, they lost their best defensive player. It’s almost like losing Ben on offense. I think a lot of people just thought, ‘Well, you just plug another guy in there.’ You don’t just plug another guy in there for Ryan Shazier. He played all three downs, he was one of their best pass defenders in terms of working the inside of the field, and he was a very good run defender. He gave them speed, he made all the calls on defense – that’s hard to overcome late in the season when you lose your best defensive player. People just thought, ‘What happened to the defense?’ Well, if you take your best player off the field, if you take Tom Brady off the field, you’re not going to be the same defense or the same offense. That was a big loss for them.”