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Mike Tomlin has agreed to a two-year contract extension with the Pittsburgh Steelers. This extension will make him among the top five highest paid coaches in the NFL.
Tomlin has an impressive eight-year run that seems to justify the contract extension. Since 2008, he has had two Super Bowl appearances – XLIII (won against the Cardinals) and XLV (lost against the Packers) – four AFC titles, five playoff appearances and a 82-46 regular season record.
However, there is an argument to be made that Tomlin’s success is due in large part to Bill Cowher’s legacy. Tomlin’s greatest success, winning Super Bowl XLIII, was full of Bill Cohwer decisions: Dick LeBeau’s (a Cowher hire) crazy defensive scheme, James Harrison’s (a Cowher draft/resign after a short stint away) Super Bowl record 100 yard interception return, several amazing passes from one of the best quarterbacks of this generation, Ben Roethlisberger (a Cowher draft selection), and a legendary catch from Santonio Holmes (you guessed it, a Bill Cowher Draft selection).
This is not to say that Mike Tomlin isn’t a good coach; he is. Although most of his success did occur in the first half of his eight years with the Steelers when Cowher’s chess pieces were still in the game. However, Tomlin does not deserve all the blame; Big Ben has suffered multiple injuries in an offensive system that requires a quarterback of his talent to thrive in.
All this being said, Mike Tomlin had never been faulted for mishandling games, poor draft selection or being sub-par in any other way (save for one ill-fated tripping incident).
The question that does arise is, why wasn’t the extension longer? Despite the 11-5 record last year, Tomlin is not sitting on some permanent gig; the Rooney family expects more then losing in an AFC Wild Card game to a divisional rival. With Big Ben getting older and the once ferocious defensive onslaught being more of gentle roar in the last few years, Mike Tomlin does have something to prove; can he win it all without Bill Cowher’s help?