The Steelers’ postseason chances took a hit over the past several days with upset home losses to the Cardinals and Patriots. Those defeats leave the team at 7-6, once again threatening head coach Mike Tomlin‘s well-known mark of never posting a sub-.500 record in a season.
Regardless of if that streak continues or is brought to an end, a change on the sidelines should not be expected in Pittsburgh. Tomlin is not seriously seen by any member of the organization as being on the hot seat, Dianna Russini of the Athletic reports (subscription required). The 51-year-old is currently in his 17th season at the helm of the Steelers.
Offensive struggles have been a major storyline surrounding the team in 2023, and shortcomings on that side of the ball led to increasing calls for OC Matt Canada to be replaced. In an extraordinarily rare move given the franchise’s track record on in-season firings, Canada was let go last month. The change to a new setup of Eddie Faulkner serving as OC and Mike Sullivan calling plays seemed to spark an immediate improvement, but things took a turn for the worse over the past two contests.
Quarterback Kenny Pickett was injured in the Arizona loss, leaving Mitch Trubisky in place to serve as starter for the Thursday night New England game. The latter is set to have a multi-game run in the No. 1 role given the recovery timeline for Pickett’s ankle sprain, on which he immediately had surgery. Even when healthy, the 2022 first-rounder has not developed as hoped this year, leading many to identify quarterback as an area of need for the Steelers this offseason. Plenty is yet to be determined for the team down the stretch, however.
Pittsburgh could still qualify for the postseason in a crowded AFC wild-card picture; doing so would mark the 11th playoff appearance in Tomlin’s tenure. The Super Bowl XLIII winner has not managed a postseason victory since the 2016 season, however, and the Steelers have recorded double-digit wins only twice in the span. In spite of the relative cold spell, Tomlin had always maintained security from a contractual perspective before the current season.
The Steelers followed a pattern of authorizing two-year Tomlin extensions every other spring for several years, but that cycle did not continue in 2023. As a result, Tomlin is on the books through 2024 and in danger of entering next season in a lame-duck situation. Given Pittsburgh’s reputation for stability on the sidelines, though, it comes as no surprise that Tomlin is set to remain in place for at least the remainder of the current campaign.
Only Bill Belichick has a longer tenure amongst active NFL head coaches, and his New England future has been the subject of signficant speculation this year. A change in New England could vault Tomlin to the top of the list in terms of longevity, but the latter will no doubt be the subject of considerable scrutiny if the Steelers fall outside the playoffs for a second straight year in 2023.