No one could have possibly known two years ago in what the Steelers really had in head coach Mike Tomlin. By now, they sure are glad they made the decision they did. It would have been easy for Dan Rooney and the team to have gone with now Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt or Cards assistant Russ Grimm, but Rooney has always been a keen judge of coaching talent, and the hiring of Tomlin has proven that yet again.
While it’s taken some of the Steelers players to get a gage on Tomlin as a coach, they know one thing – one more win and the second-year Steelers coach will have taken his team to the big game, and won, in just two seasons. “It has been fun. For a second-year coach to bring his team to the Super Bowl is special. He does a great job with everything, and we know what to expect from him,” fullback Carey Davis said Tuesday. “He makes sure we are prepared every week and that shows with us being at the Super Bowl.”
Under Bill Cowher, it took “The Chin” four seasons to reach the big game, and then they were met with a setback, 27-17 in losing to Dallas in Super Bowl XXX in Phoenix, AZ. Tomlin has already overcome one thing that Cowher had issues with – winning an AFC Title game at home. He did that in beating the Ravens, 24-13 to get to the big game.
“The thing about Coach Tomlin is he does things his own way,” running back Willie Parker said. “Everything Coach Cowher did in his era, Coach Tomlin kind of oversees that and kind of goes his way with it and he’s not changing his mind. Coach Tomlin is his own coach.”
Tomlin, at just 36 years old, has taken a Steelers team that won the Super Bowl just three seasons ago, and has re-lit the fire that died out after the following season when they started 2-6 enroute to an 8-8 season, Cowher’s last as the teams head coach.
He came to the team, did things his way, didn’t allow anything to stand in his way, and now is one win away from giving his team and the city of Pittsburgh an NFL record sixth NFL title.
“Coach Tomlin is a guy who is going to shoot it to you like it is. He’s not going to beat around the bush about anything,” LB and defensive MVP James Harrison said. “He’s only 36 years old so he’s not too far removed from being a guy who would have played in the league. He really understands and can talk to us. Just being able to do that puts us a lot closer to him.”
He has a chance once and for all Sunday to put to rest those that for whatever reason still think the Steelers should have hired Whisenhunt. If he can get it done, he’ll be well on his way to writing his own legacy as the next great Steelers head coach.