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Time For Tomlin To Be Held Accountable For Lackluster Road Losses

Pittsburgh Steelers v New York Jets

He’s run the show since 2007, patrolling the sidelines for an organization that prides itself not only in winning, but winning titles.

Mike Tomlin has had some high moments, like winning Super Bowl XLIII just two years into his reign as Steelers coach. He also won an AFC Title with the club in 2010, but the team fell short in the biggest game of the year, losing to the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV.

Since that fateful night in Dallas, the Steelers though have been under the radar more than ever, and the team has never been able to reach the heights under Tomlin it did in his first four years on the sideline.

The last four seasons has seen a disturbing trend, a trend that has seen the team more or less “play down” to the competition, and once again on Sunday it happened, losing to the 1-8 New York Jets 20-13 at MetLife Stadium.

The road losses to inferior teams have become more and more frustrating, from failing to beat a bad Raiders team in 2013 in Oakland with Terrelle Pryor at QB, to a 2009 loss to the rival Browns on a Thursday night 13-6, when the Browns were 2-11.

So why can’t this team step up and beat the doormats of the NFL when called upon? It’s mind boggling, and it’s time for Tomlin to have to step up and start to answer the questions.

The Steelers looked like an AFC powerhouse in beating the Texans, Colts and Ravens the last three weeks, and the national pundits quickly jumped on the bandwagon of how good this team was playing.

Then, as fast as they started to play well, the bottom dropped out against an aging Michael Vick and a skinny Rex Ryan.

Make no mistake, the Jets are not a good football team, and with quotes from Tomlin today trying to be curt to the media about the loss at this point fall on mostly deaf ears.

“You play for 60 minutes and so forth. Bottom line is we didn’t do what was required to win today. We didn’t secure the ball, we didn’t get the ball. It’s not winning football,” Tomlin said.

Yawn.

The coach failed to answer a question asking as to why the trend of losing on the road to bad teams keeps happening, instead blaming the four turnovers on the latest setback.

“If you look at the history of the NFL and you’re minus four in the turnover ratio you have strong possibility of losing,” Tomlin said instead of answering the question.

His words are starting to really annoy Steeler Nation, and while there’s not a chance on earth the Rooney’s are going to get rid of Tomlin, the coach has got to find a way to get this team better on the road.

Quickly.

The club will play yet another bad team in the Tennessee Titans next Monday night, and again it’s on the road.

The team just two seasons ago went to Tennessee on a Thursday night, with the Titans sitting at 1-4. The outcome – a 26-23 loss.

Now at 6-4, a loss in Tennessee next Monday not only will stop the talk of playoffs, but should make the Rooney’s think long and hard about the future of their head coaching position.

For now, Tomlin needs to take a hard look in the mirror as to why this club can’t beat bad teams on the road.

Steeler Nation sure has had enough of it.

Tomlin’s Tailspin of Bad Road Losses with the Steelers

Sunday November 18th 2007 at New York Jets 19-16 OT (1-8)
Sunday November 22nd 2009 at Kansas City 27-24 OT (2-7)
Thursday December 10th 2009 at Cleveland 13-6 (2-11)
Sunday September 23rd 2012 at Oakland 34-31 (0-2)
Thursday October 11th 2012 Tennessee 26-23 (1-4)
Sunday November 25th at Cleveland 20-14 (3-8)
Sunday September 20th 2013 at Minnesota 34-27 (0-3)
Sunday October 27th 201at Oakland 21-18 (2-4)

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. DaveB.

    November 9, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    Totally agree . Accountability is part of any job in this country . It doesnt matter if youre a nice guy or not . Its about results and Tomlin simply doesnt have them . A coaches job is to prepare his team to play , not make excuses for why they didnt . He needs to go and the Steelers need to move in a new direction . We’ll see .

  2. Matt Loede

    November 10, 2014 at 12:07 am

    Thanks for the comment DaveB, just hoping that people that have been giving Tomlin the benefit of the doubt start to see this is a trend that is killing this team from moving forward, and they have to find a way – anyway they can – to get past it.

    • Mark

      November 10, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      I am fed up with Tomlins inability to motivate this team. If I was a gambler I would have felt very good about betting against the Steelers on Sunday.Its pretty sad really. And then we have to listen to his “coach speak”. Jesus.

  3. DaveB.

    November 10, 2014 at 7:06 am

    For the Steelers to ever take the next step forward to being a Super Bowl contender , you MUST beat the teams on your schedule that you should beat . When you dont , its a lack of focus , its a lack of concentration and most importantly , a lack of preparation . At the end of the day , that falls on the head coach , fair or not . At some point , this has to stop and Tomlin has proven he cant stop it . Art and Dan Rooney need to make a decision after the season . The question is , will they .

  4. DrGeorge

    November 10, 2014 at 10:24 am

    I am not a Tomlin apologist. But in discussing him, we ought to distinguish field generalship (coaching between the lines) from team management. Tomlin is a good enough field coach to take an above average (not great) team to SB 43 and win it. When he has the talent, he has proven he can win. His mistake, like Noll and Cowher before him, was to hang on to talented veterans too long. That is a human failing and hardly unforgivable. He is not a bad field general.

    What Tomlin has not done well is manage the team, particularly with regard to replenishing talent. He wasted key picks on running backs while ignoring obvious needs at CB NG, and OT in part due to the financial bind caused by Ben R’s huge contract and improvident agreements with some other key players (Woodley’s contract comes immediately to mind).

    My point is this: getting rid of Tomlin may not solve the underlying personnel management problem. We really need a better team manager to rebalance the salaries on this team (by getting rid of players with inflated salaries) and to put the money where it counts (on both lines for starters). Even in this pass-happy era of basketball on grass, top teams run the ball well and dominate on defense. The Steelers do neither well, in large part because they simply lack the talent. It is the management side of this franchise, from the coaches to the Rooneys, that needs to be fixed.

    • George H

      November 10, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      You make a good point about contracts to player ability evaluation. Ben’s contract is huge, but thats just how the NFL is today. QBs get top dollar above everything else. We have to hope that they can fill the other holes inexpensively with solid talent, usually through the draft. I also know that missing on drafting the right qb in the draft can set you back even more in the long run, despite having a great defense and solid running game. I don’t think its a risk worth taking. We just need to keep drafting players to fill in around Ben and hope that these picks start to pan out.

      Hindsight is of course 20-20, so at the time of Woodley’s contract, I don’t think anyone anticipated that rash of injuries that would ultimately make the Steelers cut ties with him. We all thought Woodley would remain a defensive stalwart, but sometimes these things happen.
      One contract decision I really disagreed with was giving another extension to an aging Taylor, thus adhering to your point of keeping your vets too long, instead of paying for the services of Keanan Lewis. I understand he wanted to return home, but money does talk in today’s society. A lucrative, competitive offer would have probably gotten him to come back.

      I don’t think McLendon has done a terrible job at the NT position. He seems to be the scapegoat for most of our running defense woes. I see a lot of mistackles, and players leaving their proper lanes. Our CBs definitely need an upgrade though and many thought Allen was ready to step up and be a starter. I still have hope for him, but I really would not be surprised to see him with his walking papers at years end.

  5. DrGeorge

    November 10, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Good to hear from you, George H. Your points are well-taken, as always.

    I’m aware that reasonable minds can differ on the value of Ben R. versus the rest of the team. My point is that every decision exacts a price. What you pay X leaves you less money to buy Y. And the Steelers have a lot of needs; position by position, the talent of this 2014 team does not match up well with the team that won SB 40. Next, consider the $50 million the Cardinals just gave C. Palmer, age 34, just before his season-ending injury. It is an enormous risk to build an offense around one player, no matter how good he is. Obviously, the powers-that-be have favored your reasoning over mine to date. But tough financial decisions will have to be made to bring this team back to elite status. It’s a resource allocation problem, and the present approach isn’t working.

    My comment about getting a quality NG was not a knock on McClendon. He is an asset to the team, but at 6-4 and 320, he is being asked to play out of his natural position, in my view. Taking personalities out of the discussion, the Steelers D-line is presently vulnerable against the run and has been for some time, which suggests that our existing talent on the defensive line is not getting the job done. I’m certainly willing to listen to arguments that the flaw lies elsewhere than NG. We have multiple deficiences. Right now we are 12th against the rush (1,075 yards and 4.4 yd per carry), which sounds pretty good, until you consider that we are 18th against the pass and give up twice as many yards through the air. In other words, even though our rushing defense is mediocre, teams don’t bother to exploit that weakness because they can do even better throwing against our secondary. In total yards surrendered, we are 20th in the NFL. Bad news! The answer seems obvious: we need to get better talent on Defense. If so, that money has to come from somewhere.

    Side note: Last year the Seahawks won the SB with a third-round QB who made $663,000. His rookie contract ends this year. It will be interesting to see how Seahawks management handles R. Wilson’s salary demands without destroying the balance of talent on both sides of the ball. The negotiations may be instructive for the Rooneys.

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