The Pittsburgh Steelers have only employed three head coaches since 1969. In what is recognized as one of the most impressive facts in all of sports, Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin belong in a unique conversation. The trio all worked for the most loyal organization in professional sports. However, after back-to-back losses against two-wins teams, Tomlin will enter Week 15 of the 2023 NFL season on the verge of entering a scalding hot seat. Art Rooney II could have a serious predicament come January.
It was almost unimaginable entering the 2023 campaign to think that Tomlin would be coaching for a different team in 2024. That reality has slowly hit home and losses to the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots have only enhanced fan’s frustrations. Pittsburgh has three playoff wins since 2011 and one has to beg the question, “when is it time to break tradition and move on?”
Ray Fittipaldo is a beat writer and covers the Steelers for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He joined The Joe & Cook Show on 93.7 The Fan Friday morning to talk about the current state of the Steelers. Fittipaldo truly believes that Tomlin could be on his way out once 2024 rolls around. That’s a reality that not many believed would be possible. Fittipaldo is calling is a toss-up.
“[There’s a] 50% chance, but, I mean, let’s go through this, okay? I was thinking about this. We’ll know pretty soon, after the season ends, what direction Art Rooney [II] is gonna go here. If he does nothing and he brings [Tomlin] back for another year, you have to extend him.”
In theory, it makes sense. Rooney not deciding to give Tomlin an extension in the 2023 offseason was a small innuendo that the relationship might be coming to an end. As an epic collapse in December might be on the horizon, the second-longest tenured head coach in the NFL may have his days numbered.
Fittipaldo expanded on his reasoning regarding a potential Tomlin firing. The team clearly needs an offensive mastermind, and a coach on a final year of his contract without an extension is a recipe for disaster.
“There’s no reason to bring him back in 2024 as a lame-duck head coach. You’re not gonna be able to go out and get a good offensive coordinator when the head coach is on a one-year deal,” Fittipaldo said.
There aren’t many options for the Steelers owner. Fittipaldo believes that Rooney needs to part ways with his long-time head coach, or continue to believe in him and keep Tomlin around longer.
“They’re either gonna extend him or they’re gonna move on. I think Art Rooney is at a crossroads here.”
It’s a situation that many fans in the Steel City have already decided where they stand. The Steelers are a franchise of excellence and that reputation simply hasn’t lived up to expectations in over a decade. Tomlin has a chance to save his job if Pittsburgh can sneak into the playoffs in 2023, but the road ahead doesn’t look promising for the future Hall of Famer.
Steelers Organization And The Rooney Family Could Soon Be Pressed With Difficult Decision
Fittipaldo finished off his comments with simple words. It’s do or die time for the Rooney family. If the team fails to be competitive in their final four regular season games and misses out on the playoffs, a horrible collapse may force ownership’s hand.
“It’s a huge decision here for the Rooney family here in a month or so.”
Tomlin has had an incredible run in Pittsburgh. Fans are adamant that his approach is stale and it’s time to move on. It’s uncharted territory for the Rooney family and Tomlin, but something has to change if the franchise wants to climb its way back to the top of the NFL totem pole.