Before being upset by the Washington Football Team on Monday night, Mike Tomlin had the only unbeaten team in the NFL at 11-0. Even at 11-1, believe me when I say no one expected the Steelers to be this dominant.
There are 32 men serving as NFL head coaches. Five of them are currently Black with two of those five serving interim roles (Houston Texan’s Romeo Crennel and Atlanta Falcons Raheen Morris). Color and culture aside, Tomlin’s been the best in the business this season and deserves his long-overdue NFL Coach of The Year award.
The Steelers have never had a losing season under Tomlin and he’s the all-time winningest BLACK coach in NFL history, surpassing mentor Tony Dungy this season. He’s the youngest coach to ever win a Super Bowl and has led “Steel City” to two penultimate game appearances.
Tomlin’s boys didn’t qualify for the playoffs the last two seasons, having lost 2/3 of the “Killer Bs” in LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown due to arrogance and ego in 2018. Then losing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to injury just two games into the 2019 season.
This year’s team is a complete microcosm of what the “Steel City” reputation is built upon; hard work, grit and toughness to persevere even when things aren’t always running smooth. The team takes on the personality of the city. With Tomlin leading the way, their ability to draft quality pieces that fit the city’s nature is something they’ve long hung their hat on.
Guys like rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool embody toughness and great skill. TJ Watt has that old school Steelers mentality. His relentless style reminds you of his big brother JJ. TJ is on pace for 16 sacks and 48 quarterback hits.
The last player to do that was JJ Watt when he was DPOY in 2014 and 2015. The biggest acquisition to this roster came via trade from the Dolphins with them adding do-it-all, ballhawking safety Minkah Fitzpatrick as the glue to this defense.
Despite placing third in career wins amongst active coaches, trailing just Bill Belichick and Andy Reid, Tomlin has never gotten his props.
This is the season, but he does have some competition.
Tomlin Odds: 1/1 up from 7/5 a little over a week ago.
Miami Dolphins HC Brian Flores has the Dolphins at 8-4 in just his second season at the helm. He’s gone to South Beach and changed the entire culture of that franchise. The team has traded many quality pieces to accrue tons of future picks. They also drafted Tua Tagovailoa from Alabama as their hopeful franchise quarterback. They play hard and aggressively and nobody expected Miami to continue to win while trying to incorporate an offense for their franchise rookie to shine in.
Flores Odds: 5/1
There’s another group of coaches who are also worthy and they are Frank Reich (Colts) who’s at (9/1) odds. If you wanna know his effect on a team just see how bad Carson Wentz looks in Philly. In 2017 when Wentz was the leading NFL MVP candidate prior to tearing his ACL, Reich was his OC/ QB Coach. The Colts don’t have many household names minus quarterback Philip Rivers, but he’s a shell of himself at this stage of his career.
Tennessee Titans HC Mike Vrabel is also at 9/1 odds even after his team took one on the chin on Sunday. He motivates and prepares his team weekly as evidenced by their run to the AFC Championship game in 2019. He’s also revived the career of quarterback Ryan Tannehill in a bold move to sign him and let former No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota leave in free agency. Vrabel is very savvy.
Next, you have Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski who’s also at 12/1 odds. He has contributed to 2018 No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield looking like a new guy this season. Browns are (9-3) and have clinched their first winning season since 2007 when they went (10-6) but missed the playoffs. Their convincing win at Tennessee over the weekend — a game the Browns would lose in the past — is proof that Stefanski is finally getting returns on all of the talent the Browns have accrued over the years.
Sean McDermott – Bills are 9-3 and have an excellent opportunity to win the division with the Patriots down and Brady going to the NFC. The progression of Josh Allen is well documented and continued last night with 375 yards and 4 TDs in a 34-24 whupping of San Francisco.
Sean Payton – 8-0 without Brees the last seasons. The team is as tough as any Payton-led Saints team I’ve ever seen.
Andy Reid – He won’t win it because his Chiefs are just good and he has Patrick Mahomes.
Joe Judge & Ron Rivera – Both coaches have taken compromised teams, that faltered early in the season, and lifted them to the top of the NFC East at 5-7. With Saquon Barley out for the season, the Giants are on a 4-game winning streak and are being led by backup Colt McCoy until Daniel Jones is healthy enough to go.
Veteran Alex Smith has taken the reins in Washington. His comeback from a flesh-eating disease that almost caused his leg to be amputated is the stuff of legends. Couple that with the ton of courage shown by Rivera after being diagnosed with cancer and how can you not root for Washington’s Football Team? Especially after handing Pittsburgh its first loss of the season, 20-17 on Monday night.