Posted by Mission146
Jan 30, 2023


The time has come to wrap-up the 2022 Pittsburgh Steelers’ NFL Season. Unfortunately, the Steelers narrowly missed the Playoffs, so all that remains is to look ahead to next season.

Nothing else by way of introduction, so let’s get right into it.


I’ve always believed that Steelers Head Coach, Mike Tomlin, is one of the best active coaches in the entire NFL; his resume proves as much. It’s tough to put a number on it, but I would suggest that 25-40% of Steelers’ fans believe the exact opposite! Perhaps it’s a lower percentage than that, but the Tomlin haters are certainly the most vocal group of fans.

Facebook articles are almost impossible to read because the comments will have any number of fanatics calling for Tomlin’s head. Let’s take a look at Tomlin’s resume really quick:

Years Coached: 16

AFC North Championships: 7

Playoff Appearances: 10

Super Bowl Appearances/Conference Championships: 2

Super Bowl Wins: 1

Let’s put this into some context.

In the sixteen years that Mike Tomlin has coached the Steelers, they have been the AFC North Champions seven times, the Bengals have five times and the Ravens four times.

I’m not going to get into Playoff appearances, by team, in this time; that’s not out of any favoritism to Tomlin, but rather because I don’t need to list it to prove my point.

In the AFC, only seven unique teams have won the Conference (therefore, appearing in the Super Bowl) in the time Mike Tomlin has been Head Coach. The Patriots have appeared in six; the Steelers, Chiefs, and Broncos have all appeared in two; the Ravens, Colts and Bengals have appeared in one. (Not counting 2022 Season yet)

Either the Bengals or the Chiefs will appear in the 2022 Season’s Super Bowl, so it will either be the Bengals getting two appearances (back to back for style) or the Chiefs with three.

In other words, nine teams in the AFC have not advanced to the Super Bowl in the time that Mike Tomlin has coached the Pittsburgh Steelers. Yet, people like to throw out, “Only two Super Bowl appearances,” as if appearing in a Super Bowl is something you just do.

In the time Mike Tomlin has coached the Steelers, only twelve unique teams have won a Super Bowl, which means that almost two-thirds of the entire league have not. The Patriots also won it three times in that span and the Giants twice, but not counting the results next month, only two teams have won multiple Super Bowls in the time that Mike Tomlin has coached the Steelers.

I think it’s important to look at Tomlin’s current rankings in NFL History:

Wins: 163 (16th All-Time; only two active coaches have more)

Winning Percentage: .636 (22nd All-Time; only four active coaches are higher)

Losing Seasons: 0 (This stat can only be tied)

Playoff Appearances: 10 (14th All-Time; only four active coaches have more)

Conference Championships: 2 (Only two active coaches have more)

If I’m going to be fair, then I have to admit that Mike Tomlin has a Playoff Coaching record of 8-9, which isn’t ideal. However, there’s a little bit of sample sizing that comes into play there and the Steelers also squeaked into the Playoffs with the fossilized remains of Ben Roethlisberger, in the 2021 NFL Season, and were given almost no realistic shot at winning by pundits.

Beyond that, let’s look at teams with five, or fewer than five, Playoff appearances in the time that Tomlin has been HC of the Steelers and see how many coaches they have had; this will not include interim coaches:

Arizona Cardinals: Appearances, 5; Coaches 4

Buffalo Bills: Appearances, 4; Coaches 5

Carolina Panthers: Appearances, 5; Coaches 3

Chicago Bears: Appearances: 3; Coaches 5

Cleveland Browns: Appearances: 1; Coaches 8

Denver Broncos: Appearances 5 (in a row!); Coaches 7

Detroit Lions: Appearances: 3; Coaches 5

Jacksonville Jaguars: Appearances, 3; Coaches 6

Las Vegas Raiders: Appearances, 2; Coaches 7

Los Angeles Rams: Appearances, 4; Coaches 4

Miami Dolphins: Appearances, 3; Coaches 6

New York Giants: Appearances, 5; Coaches 5

New York Jets: Appearances, 2; Coaches 5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Appearances, 4; Coaches 7

Washington Commanders: Appearances, 4; Coaches 5

One team shy of half of the entire league has failed to make the Playoffs more than five times in the sixteen years that Mike Tomlin has been the coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, during which time the Steelers have advanced to the, “Tournament,” on ten occasions.

Granted, four of those teams (Buccaneers, Rams, Giants and Broncos) have won at least one Super Bowl in that time, with the Giants winning two, but that doesn’t change the fact that the majority of these teams have had some absolutely woeful stretches in this timespan.

Furthermore, the Buccaneers got a man named Tom Brady; the Rams basically sold out the next few years to successfully make their 2021 NFL Season run; the Broncos had Peyton Manning on the team and the Giants…well, they had Eli Manning, I guess; beyond that, nobody really knows why that happened.

The point is that the Steelers are all about organizational stability as they understand that will give the most opportunities to compete for the Super Bowl. If the Steelers were poker players, they’d be all about having, “A chip and a chair,” as the old saying goes.

Do you WANT to be the Cleveland Browns? I wouldn’t even want to be the Chicago Bears, who have not won a Super Bowl since MIke Tomlin has been the HC of the Black & Gold.

The two major pieces to have, if you want to repeatedly contend for the Playoffs: Coaching stability and a franchise quarterback. Tomlin did not have a franchise quarterback in the 2022 Season, at least not one who is yet known to be, yet the Steelers finished 9-8 in their first season after the Ben Roethlisberger era.

You simply don’t contend for a Super Bowl every year. Could you imagine the absurdity of it if some Patriots fans had (in seriousness) called for Brady and Belichick’s heads after the 2010 NFL Season? If those fans were instead Steelers fans, they might have…though maybe not because there is one, shall we say, obvious difference between Belichick and Tomlin?

That’s not a card I’m inclined to play very often, but I can’t come up with any other explanation that would actually make sense.

Bill Cowher coached the Steelers for fifteen seasons. Cowher’s teams went to the Playoffs ten out of fifteen years, which is virtually the same results Tomlin has. Cowher’s Steelers won the Division eight times, which is only one more time than Tomlin has. Cowher appeared in two Super Bowls, winning one. Cowher’s Playoff record is 12-9, which is better than 8-9, but again, small sample size.

I simply don’t remember the better part of the Steelers fanbase calling for Cowher’s head, but even if they had, these are the same people who accuse Tomlin of winning his ring, “With Cowher’s team.”

Did he now?

The first thing we should look at is the fact that Cowher went 8-8 and missed the Playoffs in his last year as Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, which was the season following the team’s Super Bowl win under Cowher. The Steelers would go 10-6 and win the Division in their first year under Tomlin, losing in the Wildcard Round of the Playoffs. Tomlin’s second season was the one in which the Steelers would go 12-4, win the Division (again) and then go on to win the Super Bowl.

With that, you have a three season gap between Super Bowls with Tomlin doing better in years two and three of that than Tomlin did the season after the Super Bowl, even if we wanted to pretend that it was still, “Cowher’s team,” at that point. To the extent some of the players were the same? In any case, Tomlin did better with, “Cowher’s team,” than Cowher did, so I really don’t see the problem.

It’s also worth noting that Cowher retired; he was not fired. Under what possible circumstances could the team ever want to get rid of Mike Tomlin for having virtually the same career production as Bill Cowher, with one difference being that Tomlin has never even had a losing season!?

Here is my message for any Steelers fan who wants Tomlin gone: You’re either nuts, entitled or both. There’s another possibility, but I won’t suggest it so directly.


In my midseason report, I’d concluded that the Steelers had essentially given up on the season as they benched Mitch Trubisky in favor of Kenny Pickett—way earlier than I thought they should have. I also gave my predictions for what the last eight games of the season would look like, which were:

The Steelers-independent records of their first eight opponents is 38-28, and of their remaining eight opponents, as they sit at 3-6, is 31-41-1, so you go from ten games over to ten games under .500. Here is the Steelers’ remaining schedule and my predictions:

Cincinnati: Loss

@ Indianapolis: Win

@ Atlanta: Loss

Baltimore: Loss

@ Carolina: Win

Las Vegas: Win

@ Baltimore: Loss

Cleveland: Loss

With that, I would have them at 5-3 in the final stretch (I stated that they would win either the Atlanta game, or the Cleveland game, but couldn’t force myself to pick one. In reality, they finished 6-2 in that stretch, losing only to Cincinnati (who is in the AFC Championship game—which hasn’t been played as of the time of this writing) and Baltimore, once.

Of course, the back half of their schedule did end up being much easier, which is pretty clear when we look at the combined record of the teams they played.

Beating Cleveland 28-14 (which wasn’t even as close as the score might suggest) in the final week of the season was sufficient to cause them to finish 9-8 and barely miss the Playoffs, which they missed because the Dolphins beat the Jets in the final week.

When it comes to Pickett v. Trubisky, here are the stat lines to end the season:

Pickett: 245/359 (63%), 2404 Yards, 7TD, 9INT, 6.2 Yds/A, 9.8 Yds/C, 76.7 RATE

Trubisky: 117/180 (65%), 1,252 Yards, 4TD, 5INT, 7 Yds/A, 10.7 Yds/C, 81.1 RATE

Ultimately, Trubisky met what I basically thought would be his floor and, statistically, was the superior quarterback to Pickett for the season.

That said, what gives Steelers fans some hope is the fact that Kenny seems to be pretty clutch! My midseason article mentioned Trubisky’s clutch performance when he filled in for a concussed Pickett against the Buccaneers, but Pickett has responded by doing the same thing multiple times!

That’s right! In his seven wins (one of which should kind of be shared by Trubisky), Pickett amassed three fourth quarter comebacks and four game-winning drives! If you do a search for, “Kenny Pickett clutch drive,” you’ll have a few different videos, from different games, to choose from.

Is it just sample sizing, or is there something to this, “Clutch,” thing? Regardless, I wish Pickett would look the way he has looked on a third-and-long in the fourth quarter with his back to the wall all the time; the Steelers would be totally unstoppable!

In any event, I hope the Steelers choose to keep Trubisky around for the second year of his contract as opposed to releasing him. He’ll cost a little more in the coming season, but I think he’s a solid backup and gives you, at worst, the same thing that you can expect to get out of Pickett in the event that the starter finds himself injured.


As the Steelers get ready for the 2023 NFL Season, I would expect that we see a substantially similar version of the Pittsburgh Steelers, just one with a more seasoned Kenny Pickett leading the offense.

At least, that’s what Steelers Offensive Coordinator, Matt Canada, is hoping for. I gave plenty of details as to why I thought that Canada sucks in this article, but the Steelers organizational philosophy places a heavy emphasis on stability, with Art Rooney stating that he’s keeping Canada around so that Pickett doesn’t have to start over with a new OC.

Naturally, this decision comes directly from Art Rooney, but I am also hoping that Pickett does well in 2023 because this will quickly be forgotten, if not, and the segment of the fanbase mentioned in the above section will, once again, likely be calling for Tomlin’s head otherwise.

Is the offense putting up points? Hell no. But, they did enough to go 7-2, and 4-0, to close out the season and could do just enough to get the W when the defense has its typical (outstanding) game, which is certainly more than the offense was doing the first half of the season. The running game also improved significantly, which is to say that the Steelers were able to do more than nothing on the ground in the back half.

On the one hand, the Steelers salary cap situation isn’t ideal; on the other hand, they aren’t in any serious trouble with who might enter free agency and shouldn’t have trouble re-signing key pieces if they can create the cap room. It certainly won’t be the first time that the team has engaged in financial wizardry when it comes to the salary cap.

The team’s needs, as ever, are mostly beefing up the offensive line. This mock draft has them taking an Offensive Tackle with the 17th Pick of the First Round, assuming he’s still available. I suppose they could trade up to make it a sure thing, but I can’t imagine what they would trade aside from later round draft picks, or alternatively, a package of 2022 and 2023 picks.

That would help out the ground attack, which the team, and Canada (I must admit) really turned on in the back half of the 2022 season. In their last nine games, only once did the team fail to gain 100+ yards on the ground, which was one of only two losses in that stretch.

The Steelers appear poised to continue with their traditional AFC North style of football with an aggressive defense that tries to give opposing quarterbacks nightmares, mostly conservative play-calling that relies on the ground game to set up the occasional big pass and trying to stay at least in the game until the fourth quarter and win it there. It’s pretty old school, but it got the job done seven tries out of nine after the bye week.

From the look of it, the Steelers 2023 schedule won’t be too much more difficult than it was this season, to say the least. You’ve got the six Divisional matchups, the entire AFC South (Colts, Titans, Jaguars and Texans…combined 23-43-2 in 2022), the Packers (8-9), the Patriots (8-9), the Raiders (6-11), Cardinals (4-13), Rams (5-12), Jaguars (9-8) and the 13-4 San Francisco 49ers.

Aside from San Francisco and Cincinnati (twice), the Steelers schedule is a ton of mediocrity and sub-mediocrity, so if there has ever been a season where the minimum standard should be ten wins and at least a Wildcard appearance, this one is it.


There’s nothing else to discuss until the NFL Season officially comes to an end and we get into free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft. The big question on most fans’ minds was whether or not Matt Canada would be keeping his job as Offensive Coordinator for the organization, and Rooney answered that question even more quickly than most fans would have expected.

I’m interested in whether or not they will keep Mitch around for a second year, but honestly, I might be the only person who cares. Even if they do, the organization has left absolutely no doubt that Pickett is the presumptive starting quarterback as we go into 2023.

My early prediction is that they will go either 10-7 or 11-6 and finish second place in the Division. I think that they will advance to the Wildcard Playoffs, perhaps even win and go to the Divisional Round (or maybe even the AFC Championship), but I don’t think the Steelers are primed to make a Super Bowl run quite yet. Perhaps the 2024 or 2025 season will be the run.

Either way, I’m willing to put my faith in organizational stability and to, “Trust the process.”


gordonm888 Jan 30, 2023

I just scanned this article, so i might have missed something. But my general impression was that the Steeler's comeback in the 2nd half of the season was in some significant part due to the return of JJ Watt from injuries. He is one of those dominant players (like Von Miller or Nick and Joey Bosa) who seems to elevate the effectiveness of the entire defense unit.

Mission146 Jan 31, 2023

Watt is significant, but it's all the same thing if you can't move the ball on offense:

Check this out:


Of the eleven games in which the Steelers ran for 100+ yards:

Week 10---WIN
Week 17---WIN
Week 12---WIN
Week 15---WIN
Week 13---WIN
Week 18---WIN
Week 16---WIN

Week 8---LOSS
Week 4---LOSS
Week 3---LOSS
Week 11---LOSS

They went 2-4 in the games where they didn't rush for 100+, but Week 14, when Watt was healthy (five tackles-solo and assist, one tackle for loss, one sack and one QB hit) was the only week on the back half of the season in which they failed to run for 100+..

Watt's a playmaker, don't get wrong and he's an absolute menace to opposing quarterbacks...but even a defense that doesn't allow much scoring won't change anything if the offense doesn't score and can't generate first downs, improve time of possession and contribute to opposing offenses not having as good starting field position when they (your offense) doesn't score.

Anyway, Watt is significant, but you know...article length n'at. Besides, the defense only allowed opponents to score more than twenty points five times in the entire season!

One of those times (second game against the Bengals) was with Watt.

The Browns put up 29 in Week 3, but that was with a fumble recovery in the end zone on the last play of the game, so really the defense only allowed 23. Time of Possession: Cleveland 36:09---Pittsburgh 23:51

The Jets scored 24, winning with under a minute left in the game. No disparity in time of possession in that one. Wilson of the Jets even threw two picks and was sacked once in that game, so the defense had a decent outing. Between Trubisky (1) and Pickett (3) the Steelers gave the Jets the ball three times by way of interception, so that was the real problem. A Mitch Trubisky pick led to the Jets Offense only advancing the ball ten yards, but they were in FG range. Even in their game winning drive, the Jets started near midfield.

In the game against the Eagles...having Watt healthy almost certainly wouldn't have mattered. Same with Buffalo.

Anyway, that's why my focus was on the improved offense.

Mission146 Jan 31, 2023

Four times* in the last long paragraph.

AZDuffman Feb 05, 2023

While I have disowned the team I still know enough to comment on why people dislike Tomlin. Count me among them.

Tomlin does not practice "Steeler Football." Namely a good running game and after you get a lead putting your boot on the neck of your opponent. Cowher was what? 110-1-1 when up by 10 in the third quarter? Something like that. Under Tomlin it seemed teams were always getting back in the game.

That is why people preferred Cowher. That and Cowher seemed more like "one of us." He seemed more a working class coach. Tomlin seems more detached. Sort of like Cowher was John Gotti who lived in the neighborhood but Tomlin being Paul Castellano who lived out on Staten Island. At least that is how their personalities always came off to me.

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