Steelers legend Terry Bradshaw apparently isn’t a big fan of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. The 68-year-old Bradshaw, a four-time Super Bowl champion, called the 44-year-old Tomlin, who led the Steelers to victory in Super Bowl XLIII, a “cheerleader” coach, thus implying that the Steelers win in spite of Tomlin, not because of him.
Is that fair? Do the Steelers win because of Tomlin, or is he more so along for the ride?
“I think in part they win because of Mike Tomlin,” former NFL lineman Ross Tucker said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “You think about how he is with the media, he’s a pretty convincing guy, and I think that rubs off on his team in certain situations. Even when they’re down or they struggle, it seems like they always step up and play well when they need to, even just what they did in the fourth quarter on Sunday against the Ravens.”
The Steelers overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Baltimore, 31-27, on Sunday and win the AFC North for the second time in three years. Pittsburgh has reached the playoffs in seven of Tomlin’s 10 seasons and played in two Super Bowls.
This year’s team is considered a dark horse to challenge New England in the AFC.
“When you have an awesome offense and you’re pretty good in the front seven, just don’t get beat deep,” Tucker said, explaining the Steelers’ defensive mindset. “Don’t give up easy and cheap stuff, which has Tomlin’s fingerprints all over it as a guy that is a big believer in two-deep zone and force people to compete stuff underneath. So I think he’s a reason why they win. I don’t know that he’s as much of a reason why they win as perhaps some of the other coaches out there like a Belichick, but Belichick’s not calling the offense or the defense, either. (Matt) Patricia calls the defense and (Josh) McDaniels calls the offense. I see Peter King has Belichick for Coach of the Year, which I guess I understand. He wouldn’t be mine, but I guess I understand it. But I don’t see that much of a difference. Does Belichick talk into his headset more than Tomlin does? What do we need here?”
Tucker was also asked about Jason Garrett, another NFL head coach who perhaps doesn’t get enough credit as he should – even though the Cowboys (13-2) have the best record in football.
“I don’t think Garrett will ever get that level of credit,” Tucker said. “ I think it hurts him that Jerry Jones is kind of the face of the franchise. I just think Jerry Jones is so out in front and he wants to be and he has the right to be – he owns the team – that Garrett, at times, it seems like he’s secondary. It seems like he’s almost behind the scenes. He’s another guy there, that, does he even wear a headset when he’s on the sidelines? They got (Scott) Linehan calling the offense, (Rod) Marinelli is running the defense. But you’re right. I don’t care how talented Dak Prescott may be or Zeke Elliott, and the offensive line is awesome – I love watching those guys – but for them to be 13-2 (is amazing).
“If you look at any successful organization – it doesn’t have to be sports – the guys that are usually the best are the people who do the best job of hiring the right people and the best people and allow them to do their jobs,” Tucker continued. “So I think Garrett is up there as well, but to me, the coach of the year is Adam Gase.”
Gase, of course, has coached the Dolphins form the 1-4 abyss to a 10-5 playoff berth. Early in the season, the Dolphins were last in Tucker’s weekly Power Rankings; now they’ve clinched a Wild Card despite starting Matt Moore on the road each of the last two weeks.
“He’s easily my No. 1,” Tucker said of Gase. “I’ve never even met the guy, but he’s easily my No. 1. If you go from last in my Power Ranks to making the playoffs, that’s impressive.”