July 16, 2024

Report: Mike Tomlin Informed Steelers Players He Plans to Return as HC in 2024

Mike Tomlin intends to return for an 18th year as the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.

Garafolo reported Tomlin met with his players to inform them “the speculation about him stepping away is unfounded, and he plans on coaching the team in 2024.”

The 51-year-old guided the Steelers to a 10-7 record and a trip to the playoffs in 2023.

It was more of the same in Pittsburgh, which wasn’t necessarily a good thing.

The Steelers have yet to post a losing record under Tomlin. But seemingly every year is now following a similar pattern, with the team flattering to deceive before doing just enough to ease any serious pressure on Tomlin.

Robert Griffin III
They said….<br><br>- “Mike Tomlin should be fired.”<br>- “Mike Tomlin needs to leave Pittsburgh.”<br>-“His message isn’t getting through to the players anymore.”<br><br>How about that response from the locker room? 24-0 at halftime in a must win game against a division rival. Most points in the… <a href=”https://t.co/uwxBTbRMZH”>pic.twitter.com/uwxBTbRMZH</a>

On Dec. 23, Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reported the Steelers “intend to extend” Tomlin before the 2024 season kicks off. In addition, the coach was “directly involved in roster planning for 2024 and 2025” and “giving no indication that he’s unhappy or disgruntled or ready for something new.”

A day later, Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reported Tomlin was garnering a lot of outside interest in a potential trade but that a return to the Steelers remained on the table.

Many of those lobbying for change said it was less an indictment of Tomlin’s coaching abilities and more down to his tenure simply running its course.

Get Up
“Coach Tomlin should now move on from Pittsburgh and everybody should line up to hire him.”<a href=”https://twitter.com/Realrclark25?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@Realrclark25</a> says Mike Tomlin needs to move on from the Steelers 😳 <a href=”https://t.co/xhB9cJ8XEd”>pic.twitter.com/xhB9cJ8XEd</a>

Now that he’s coming back, two decisions more than any other will likely determine whether Tomlin silences his skeptics or reinforces the calls for his departure.

The post-Matt Canada firing bump quickly subsided as the offense settled back into being a below-average outfit. Tomlin may conclude interim offensive coordinator Eddie Faulkner did enough to get the job permanently. If not, he can’t afford to whiff as badly with an outside hire as he did with Canada.

Then there’s figuring out what to do at quarterback.

Kenny Pickett threw for 2,070 yards, six touchdowns and four interceptions in 12 starts, and he ranked 27th in QBR (38.5). The fact his production went slightly backward was discouraging considering an initial selling point on him was that he was perhaps the most pro-ready QB in the 2022 draft class.

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell questioned in December whether the Steelers will effectively cut bait on Pickett already but advocated for some actual veteran competition for the starting role. Geno Smith was one such option floated.

Assuming Pickett remains the QB1, the fans will at least hope Pittsburgh has a better contingency in place than Mitchell Trubisky or Mason Rudolph.

There isn’t one specific thing Tomlin has done to be deemed a fireable offense. Neither have the Steelers bottomed out in a way that made a coaching change the only sensible course of action, something that has happened with Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.

But the organization might be evoking the adage about good being the enemy of great. At a certain point, winning nine or 10 games and losing in the Wild Card Round can’t be deemed enough anymore.

Should the Steelers yet again follow the same cycle in 2024 they have for the last six years, resisting calls for Tomlin’s ouster will be difficult to ignore, regardless of how far into the future he’s signed.


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