The “Steeler Way” — for those who subscribe to such a thing — certainly isn’t finishing .500. This isn’t Jacksonville or Cleveland; not Oakland or St. Louis. We should demand more. Hell, it’s in our DNA, right?
This is Pittsburgh, where season tickets have been in your family for generations, you get to Heinz Field hours before kickoff, and claim you’ll only miss a home game if it’s below freezing (well, maybe).
Being .500 again shouldn’t be good enough as the Pittsburgh Steelers — and more pointedly, head coach Mike Tomlin — get ready to start the 2014 season with a September 7 visit from the Cleveland Browns.
Have we become less-than-demanding as a football city? Have we lost our drive to mandate as close to perfection as possible in this undeniable Football Mecca? Where is the outcry? Where is the directive?
If not from you, hear it loud and clear from me: If Tomlin doesn’t fare better than .500 this season — I will go a step farther and say make the playoffs — there needs to be a change to his employment status. (Translation: If there’s a third-straight stumble, Mike Tomlin’s career as Steelers coach should crumble.)
There, I said it. There’s truly no need to dance around this issue if the Steelers want to put substance to such a claim that they are a strong contender in the NFL. You see, going 8-8 in two consecutive seasons isn’t good enough for the Steelers or the fanbase of this incredibly proud organization. Furthermore, missing the postseason at the tail end of the 2012 and 2013 seasons isn’t good enough either.
I’m not naïve to Mike Tomlin’s success, as he helped this team to a Super Bowl title over the Cardinals at the end of the 2008 season. I’m also not disinclined from looking at his 71-41 career record and how he posted three 12-win seasons in the span of four years. All were, unequivocally, wonderful accomplishments.
But, again, football is the game of our city — no matter how well the Penguins play or how good the Pirates get. This game of football has been, for a long time now, what has risen above the others.
Quite simply, The Chief made it that way, turning a miserable franchise into one that is anticipated to be a winner. Really, the Steelers haven’t been that for more than the past two seasons. They have been, plainly and quantifiably, average — because that’s exactly what 16-16 is.
If they don’t get better this season, Tomlin could very well go from Steelers coach to ex-Steelers coach. He is the one who has often made the claim about how “the standard is the standard.”
This 2014 season is a time when he needs to reach such a standard or experience some very real consequences. This isn’t Jacksonville or Cleveland; not Oakland or St. Louis, either — remember that.