There will be no looming lame-duck season for Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. According to the Associated Press (via Yahoo! Sports), the team announced a three-year extension on Tuesday that will keep him in Pittsburgh through the 2016-17 season, which will be his 10th as their head coach.
Tomlin is just the Steelers' third head coach since 1969. Clearly, they are a franchise that values consistency and works tirelessly to hire a person who is willing to stick around for the long haul.
But it wasn't just the franchise's typical loyalty that lead to this extension—it's simply what Tomlin has accomplished since coming on in 2006.
In that time, the Steelers have won the AFC North three times, the AFC championship twice, gone to two Super Bowls (winning one) and have ranked first in overall defense thrice. That's not the track record of a coach on the hot seat, no matter what the lingering memory of the team's playoff loss to the Denver Broncos last season may have one believing.
In the past few months, the Steelers have undergone a lot of changes, from personnel to coaching. Tomlin has done nothing but take responsibility for those decisions, believing that they're in the team's best interest. He doesn't make excuses, is always determined to move forward and, most importantly, is able to get results out of his players.
Clearly, that's the kind of head coach any team would want. So it makes complete sense that the Steelers organization would want to lock him down to an extension before his old contract even came close to expiring.
For the Steelers, it is important that the front office and the coaching staff have the same vision about the team's future. By extending Tomlin's contract, it shows that the two sides' views are in alignment and that there is nothing but full confidence in Tomlin's ability to continue to field—and build—a Super Bowl-contending team.
One of the knocks against Tomlin is that he did little to actually architect the Steelers team we've been seeing on the field during his tenure. However, it was his philosophy on how those players should be used and further developed—as well as the players he did bring on, via free agency and the draft—that has made this team truly his.
With more changes likely coming on the Steelers' roster in the coming years, Tomlin will have a number of challenges ahead. He'll spend at least part of the next five seasons rebuilding certain areas of the team—the secondary, the defensive front seven and even potentially the receiving corps—and the front office believes he is capable of doing so without a significant drop-off in the quality of overall team play.
Tomlin's extension proves that the Steelers are unquestionably his team and that he's paid enough dues to have earned that honor. Few jobs are less stable than NFL head coach, but wins guarantee continued employment. It wasn't just Tomlin's 55-25 win-loss record over the last five seasons that got him this extension—it's also the confidence the organization has in his ability to go 55-25 in the next five.
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