Mike Tomlin can’t count on a committee to get him to the playoffs for the first time in three years, and if the Steelers performance in the preseason is any indication, he just might be looking at his third straight year without a postseason appearance.

It’s easy to dismiss the preseason record as meaningless, but recent Steelers teams had bad regular seasons after losing three or four exhibition games.

An 0-4 preseason last summer led to an 8-8 regular season.

Bill Cowher went 0-4 in his last preseason in 2006 and finished 8-8 in the regular season. He finished 6-10 in 2003 after a 1-3 preseason and in 1999 a 1-3 preseason was followed by a 7-9.

If Tomlin ends up having three consecutive nonwinning seasons for the first time since Chuck Noll from 1969 to 1971, legitimate questions will be raised about his ability to maintain a winning program.

He inherited a good nucleus of players, including two possible Hall of Famers in Troy Polamalu and Ben Roethlisberger, the second-best quarterback in franchise history.

He also got a couple of good years out of Hines Ward, another possible Hall of Famer and one of the best wide receivers in Steelers’ history.

Where would Tomlin be without Heath Miller, Ike Taylor, and Brett Keisel, not to mention the defensive coordinator he inherited from Cowher, Dick LeBeau?

Aaron Smith, one of the Steelers’ best all-time defensive linemen, started 16 games in the Super Bowl season of 2008.

Then there were inherited players such as Casey Hampton, Max Starks, Larry Foote, Ryan Clark and James Farrior, who made major contributions. Willie Parker gained 1,300 yards for Tomlin in 2007, his first season as head coach.

Cowher inherited a good nucleus from Chuck Noll, but also won with players drafted and developed after he arrived.

Can the same be said for Tomlin?

Not yet.

  • Bobzilla

    Mike Tomlin might be the first coach NFL history to enter his 8th season with doubts as to whether or not he can actually coach.
    His astoundingly dumb clock management makes even his staunch supporters cringe. And his mysterious personnel decisions — like in 2010 when he named Dennis Dixon over Charley Batch as the replacement for the suspended Ben Roethlisberger or in 2012 when he stuck with a visibly injured Byron Leftwich instead of inserting Batch into winnable scenario en route to a close loss against the Ravens — make his critics crazy.
    A great defense, the one inherited from Bill Cowher and produced 2 Defensive Players of the Year (James Harrison in ’08 and Troy Polamalu in ’10), covered up a lot of Tomlin’s glaring flaws for 5 of his 7 seasons. That same defense also covered up a weak offense and the averageness of the 2nd best QB in Steelers History.
    But that defense is gone.
    Tomlin, however, will likely stay … as long as the PC Police still have others to blame.
    There’s still Todd Haley.
    Just ask Snoop Dogg, who possesses the football mentality of most of the Steelers’ fan base and the local sports media.