Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin may not have the reputation of Bill Belichick, but in my personal opinion, he's one of the all-time great coaches in the NFL. (He has never once had a losing season as the head coach in Pittsburgh, but has never once won a Coach of the Year award. How is that even possible?)
With the great seasons and moments that Tomlin has produced for the sport, it is really hard to believe that he hasn't been recognized as the best coach one time. I think that all changes in 2023, and the pathway to that award is very clear and also a huge challenge, but not one that Tomlin can't handle.
Last season, the Steelers made the playoffs despite trotting out the shell of Ben Roethlisberger at QB and getting almost nothing out of him down the stretch. Big Ben averaged just 6.2 yards per pass attempt and posted a very pedestrian passer rating of only 86.8. Usually, that type of mediocre play isn't going to get you very far, if anywhere at all. Surely it was the defense and the rest of the team that carried them to the playoffs, right? Wrong. Pittsburgh ranked a very poor 24th in total defense and 23rd in total offense. No one side of the ball on this team was particularly great last season, although T.J. Watt is excused.
Yet somehow, Tomlin was able to guide this team to a playoff berth despite the poor numbers on both sides of the ball. Yes, they may have been blown out of the water by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round, but they really shouldn't have been there regardless.
They started the year 1-3 and looked like a team that was on the verge of total collapse, but it didn't happen, and they instead rallied. This has been the calling card of the Steelers for years under Tomlin, and that isn't going to suddenly change now. No matter who starts at QB, Mitch Trubisky or rookie Kenny Pickett, I really don't think they can be much worse than what they got our of Roethlisberger last season. No one should be shocked if Trubisky realizes his potential under Tomlin, or Pickett breaks out in his first year like Justin Herbert. The Steelers could make the playoffs once again, despite all the changes to the roster, and with Roethlisberger gone. Throw in the departure of defensive coordinator Keith Butler and longtime general manager Kevin Colbert, and you have all the makings of a team that could be a disaster, but I'm betting they won't be.
Tomlin has 30/1 consensus odds to win COTY, and that is great value if you ask me. If he makes the playoffs and has another winning season despite all of the disadvantages he has going into the season, he should be named COTY for the first time in his career.