The Pittsburgh Steelers have had three coaches since 1969. They don’t fire coaches. It’s practically a trademark for the franchise.
The Steelers also don’t have terrible seasons. They have had only four double-digit loss seasons since 1969, Chuck Noll’s first season as head coach. It’s an organization that expects to compete for Super Bowls every year.
The 2019 Steelers season might bring the franchise to a tough spot with Mike Tomlin.
Many fans have blamed Tomlin for Pittsburgh not making it to a Super Bowl since 2010. This season might give them more ammunition. The 0-3 Steelers take center stage against the 0-3 Cincinnati Bengals on “Monday Night Football,” a game that can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app.
It’s a rare spot for the Steelers. Instead of being celebrated as one of the NFL’s marquee teams on prime time, it will be an examination of what has gone wrong and the future of the franchise.
Steelers have a miserable start to season
Of course, whatever happens this season won’t be all Tomlin’s fault. Not many coaches could lose a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback in the first half of Week 2 and not struggle.
Ben Roethlisberger suffered a season-ending elbow injury against Seattle in Pittsburgh’s second game of the season. The Steelers lost that game to the Seahawks. Roethlisberger’s replacement Mason Rudolph struggled and the Steelers were thoroughly outplayed by the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3. Pittsburgh lost despite five 49ers turnovers that kept the Steelers in the game until the end.
If you can’t win after forcing five turnovers, it might be a long season.
The good news for the Steelers is the Bengals have their own issues. They were competitive in road losses to the Seahawks and Bills, but it’s still an 0-3 start with new coach Zac Taylor. And now they get a Steelers team that needs a win, or things will really get heated in Pittsburgh.
Mike Tomlin has a big challenge
An 0-3 start isn’t a death sentence in the NFL, but close. Just six of 176 0-3 teams since 1980 made the playoffs.
An 0-3 start with Roethlisberger out for the season seems to make those odds even longer.
Tomlin has been under heat after some good seasons that ended in playoff failure. Even with the excuse that his quarterback played fewer than six quarters this season, Tomlin is going to hear the naysayers if this Steelers season goes really sour. The Steelers haven’t shown any inclination of making a change. This past summer they even gave Tomlin an extension through 2021. But that won’t stop the speculation if the losses pile up, even with a resume that compares well against some of the greatest coaches ever.
This could be Tomln’s biggest challenge as a head coach. His quarterback isn’t coming back this season. Superstars like Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell are gone. If the Steelers don’t go on a winning streak very soon the season will obviously be lost and it might be hard to keep the team engaged for a long second half.
Monday night starts what might be a long referendum on Tomlin, his future as a head coach and even the future of the Steelers. Losing to the 0-3 Bengals wouldn’t be a good idea.
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