How Much Blame Should Tomlin Take for the Failures of the 2012 Steelers?

Sunday at Heinz Field, Mike Tomlin will coach his first regular season game as the coach of the Steelers with nothing on the line. Not one thing really matter Sunday, and in his 6th year as coach, many are pointing a heavy finger at him for the tailspin this Steelers team has gone into.

There’s many decisions that haven’t sat well with Steelers fans that Tomlin has made, and many of those haters are coming out of the closet now that the Steelers have fallen on hard times.

The decisions that many feel Tomlin should be held accountable for include:

* Dumping OC Bruce Arians for Todd Haley – It hasn’t helped that Arians, who is super close with Ben Roethlisberger, has gone on to lead the Colts to an unlikely postseason run after the illness of Indy coach Chuck Pagano. Arians is very likely to be at the top of many lists for a head coaching look for 2013, and many feel if he was still in Pittsburgh the offense would be better.

* Playing Byron Leftwich over Charlie Batch in Week 11 vs the Ravens – Hindsight is 20/20, but many felt that Leftwich had not really done much to earn the starting spot in the huge first game vs Baltimore. Things looked good early when Leftwich actually ran for a touchdown, but it was the only Steelers TD of the game, and Leftwich then played hurt the rest of the way.

* Benching RB’s in Cleveland – The Steelers committed 8 turnovers vs the Browns, and by the time it was all said and done, all four Steelers RB’s put the ball on the ground. During the game though Rashard Mendenhall, Issac Redmen, and Jonathan Dwyer all put the ball on the grass, and instead of just putting one of them back in – he went with untested Chris Rainey. Sure Rainey ran for a TD, but clearly the three guys on the bench were much more battle tested than the rookie was. In the end, Rainey fumbled away the last Steelers chance, and they wound up losing 20-14.

Those are just three decisions that Tomlin has made in 2012 that many have gone after him for. So with that said – how is he to blame? He puts the players on the field, and some of those players (LaMarr Woodley comes to mind), haven’t clearly done the job in 2012.

You tell me Steeler Nation – where does the blame lie?

About the Author

Matt Loede
Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering Major League Baseball, National Basketball Association and of course, the National Football League. On NFL Sunday’s you can hear Matt on National networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and other stations around the country. Matt also joined The Washington Post in 2009 as a guest columnist on league hot topics. Born and raised in Cleveland, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

12 Comments on "How Much Blame Should Tomlin Take for the Failures of the 2012 Steelers?"

  1. I get so tired of people looking to play the blame game. It was not a great year. But there are a lot of different factors that went into the way this season played out, not just one person, decision or situation. I am a loyal Steeler fan for many seasons. Great ones, good ones and not so good ones. I believe in this team, the coaching staff and the owners. They will work together and use the lessons learned to make next year even better. It’s a GREAT team that can take a hit and come back swinging. My Steelers is a GREAT team. Super Bowl ring #7 is in our sights.

  2. I personally think that “The Sound byte” deserves at least as much credit for the failures of this season as Bill Cowher did for the failure of the 2006 season. Tomlin is all talk, I’m still waiting to find out what his mark will be on this team. He was good enough to take Cowher’s team to Super Bowl XLIII and win, but couldn’t win two years later with a dominated with his roster moves.

    I think the Steelers made a big mistake making “The Sound byte” the head coach of this team, he has no spine when dealing with Ben Roethlisberger, and seems to be allowing things to spin out of control with Todd Haley because he wanted to keep Bruce Arians. He is quickly losing control of this team.

    I for one am not at all upset about this season, I didn’t think they would be competing for a play-off spot. They had gone 12-4 the past two seasons, historically, they’ve never been able to sustain that type of success over the course of three seasons. I had hoped for 6-10 or 5-11 to secure a higher draft choice to start rebuilding more rapidly.

    • sad but true. this team has no personality, no identity. the constant mistakes being made are terrible. what is so hard for a coach to piont out on film and show them. it is sad to see what this team has become. i hate to see them take the field and i have been a fan since the 50’s remember tom tracy, ernie stautner,dick haley, etc.the coaching is just absoulutely horrendous and it’s just a reflection of the person who is rinning the show on the sidelines

  3. I agree with you 100 percent.Tomlin has proven that his coaching leaves alot to be desired.He inherited a team that was groomed by Cower and as the years wentby thhat grooming has worn off and here wehave a Tomlin team thta is undisiplied and not capable of staying competitive. I said it when we lost to Green Bay this was the beginning of the end and it was going to take along time for us to get back to that level of Steeler Football.Two years and counting
    Nuff Said

  4. Hhhmmmm….”They will work together and use the lessons learned to make next year even better.” Not so sure about that Angela. They haven’t used any lessons learned this year to correct big time mistakes so why would we believe this will be the case next year? Blind loyalty? Not hardly. Tomlin has a very poor track record with respect to instilling the discipline necessary to execute sound basic fundamentals. The lack of discipline repeatedly plagued the team throughout the entire season and has been an issue in years prior as well. Clearly the Rooney experiment with Tomlin is a bust and they should show him the door.

  5. How come when I say these things I’m called names by some of our bloggers?

  6. Lack of discipline is the issue. Tomlin needs to make the whole offense watch films of Heath Miller and ask the team, ” what is the common theme that you see in Millers play?” Answer, no shenanigans. Miller completes the play and returns to the huddle without excessive celebration. Miller is all about focus and the game. When the rest of the Steeler offense models themselves after Miller, the Steelers will be a playoff team again.

  7. Matt. I hope I do not see one post stating that the 2012 Steeler offense would have been in better hands with Arians. Yes, our offense struggled mightily this year, but show me one post from one Steeler fan that was not on board with the dismissal of Arians during the offseason. We complained about the lack of running game. We complained about the play of the OL. We complained about the lack of productivity from the TE position. In essence, we called for the head of Arians. Having said that, how can you suggest that Tomlin should be held accountable for Arian’s dismissal? Who are “the many” who feel that the Steelers offense would be better served with Arians in control? I can’t recall one Steeler fan offering a vote of confidence in Arians favor. How can you lay this at the feet of Mike Tomlin? I understand the other points you make, but please don’t play the “I told you so” game about Arians. I’m just not buying it. If you are not happy with Haley, then that’s one thing. But, to say that we should have kept Arians tells me one of two things. One, we don’t know half of what we as fans think we know. Or, two, we are a bunch of hypocrites.

    • not broke don't fix | December 28, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Reply

      Tomlin’s offense has stunk since he has taken over this team. Arians as offense coordinator was a complete bonehead, getting rid of him was the absolute right move and I don’t think we would have anymore wins as we do right now .I just got sick and tired of 3rd and short and sending 5 wide or the deep passes (to many times in a game). I do believe that Haley has been handcuffed by the orginazation with the run,run,pass scheme,mostly because we just got rid of the arial circus OC and wanted to get back to power football. Due to the injuries and anemic O-line The Steelers are no longer a power house threat in the NFL. The Steelers are now a one dimensional team, they can’t run the ball effectively to set up the passing game so it was probably easy for other teams to scheme their defense against our offense.

  8. I’m really surprised at the level of flak that Tomlin is getting, sure some of the blame lies with him but there are a lot of factors that have led to this disappointing season.

    As far the change at OC goes I was glad to see Arians go, I didn’t necessarily think he was as bad as other fans thought at the time but the offense had become pretty stagnant under his coaching and we needed to make a change in the hope of moving up a gear. I don’t really think Todd Haley has achieved that in his first year though, hopefully he and Roethlisberger will work together better in the off season to find an offensive scheme that suits both their strengths. There have certainly been some improvements also, I’m personally very happy to see us getting the most out of Heath Miller; Steeler fans have known for a long time that he could be as important to this team as a Jason Witten or Antonio Gates which Haley has proven. If they can work the deeper threats into the system better I think getting rid of Arians will prove to be the right call.

  9. I agree Tomlin inherited a Super Bowl contending team that Cower built. Getting rid of Joey Porter was the firs mistake Tomlin made! I think the problem with this team is discipline! Cower would get in the players face and they respected him. Tomlin wants to be one of the boys, a buddy, and be liked by them. Someone needs to take control of the team! I do not like owners that control their teams, like Jones and Al Davis, but I think the Rooneys need to start getting more involved and not being involved in Ireland.

  10. Hey Mike,

    Sorry, I should have probably been a little more clear in stating that the comments that were made about Arians and the fans that felt he should have stayed were made on our Facebook page at

    I agree that I think Haley has been fine this season, but just bringing up the slack that some fans have been giving not only Tomlin, but also how dismissing Arians was a mistake. It’s easy to say that with hindsight being what it is, but I was for the move when it was made.

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