The winds of change blew through Pittsburgh this off season, as the Steelers and coach Mike Tomlin enter the 2012 season without several key veterans and former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.
After a disappointing loss to Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos in the playoffs, the Steelers were forced to part with team leaders Hines Ward and James Farrior.
Mike Tomlin then decided that the offense needed to shake things up and hired former Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley to replace Arians.
What this means is more pressure on Tomlin to make all the pieces work. With a tough schedule in 2012 to go along with perhaps the toughest division in the NFL, Tomlin will have his work cut out for him.
However if we have learned anything from the past five years, it’s that there is no challenge too big for Tomlin to handle.
After all what could be more challenging then replacing a Hall of Famer who just won the Super Bowl, as a 35-year-old first-time head coach?
Tomlin has been one of the best coaches in the NFL from day one, with a remarkable 55-25 overall record and one Super Bowl win in two appearances.
Here are five reasons why Mike Tomlin will be the NFL’s best coach in 2012.
Has Confidence in His Team
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Mike Tomlin’s coaching ability is his unwavering confidence in the Steelers.
He is as calm and collected a coach as there is in the NFL, even when his team struggles. In press conferences he never shows doubt in his players and is quick to accept responsibility for mistakes.
Those qualities will be put to the test as the Pittsburgh Steelers are going through a small transition and younger players are being put into more prominent roles.
The Steelers could struggle early in the season, with a young offensive line and some new starters on defense coupled with four tough teams on the schedule.
Last season, however, the Steelers started 2-2 and were one of the more disappointing teams in September. Tomlin’s confidence did not waver and the team proceeded to go 10-2 the rest of the season on their way to the playoffs.
You can bet that no matter what challenges the Pittsburgh Steelers face in the upcoming season, Mike Tomlin will have faith that the team will overcome them. It is one of the reasons why the team has never finished worse than 9-7 in five years with Tomlin as head coach.
Todd Haley Is New Offensive Coordinator
While the Steelers are known for their defense, the expectations for the offense are just as high and 2011 was a disappointing season for the offense.
The team was tied for 21st in the NFL in scoring with just 20.3 points a game and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was forced to resign as a result.
In comes Pittsburgh native Todd Haley as the team’s new offensive guru. Haley has expressed an emphasis on getting back to the ground and pound running style that defined the Steelers offense for decades.
With a bruising running attack at his disposal, Haley can open up the play-action passing game for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Pro Bowl receivers Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown.
Mike Tomlin was the man that hired Haley and he has as much confidence in his new offensive coordinator as he does in every other man on the Steelers.
With Haley running the offense, Tomlin can get back to focusing on defense, which is what made him such a great coach in the first place.
Todd Haley will be an excellent addition to the Steelers coaching staff and his offensive knowledge will help Mike Tomlin be the best coach in the NFL in 2012.
Has One of the League’s Best Defenses
No matter what happens on the offensive side of the ball, Mike Tomlin always knows he can rely on Dick LeBeau and the infamous Steelers defense.
In 2011 Pittsburgh lead the league in opponents’ yards per game and scoring defense, and they have been in the top five every year Tomlin has been the head coach.
While there will be some new faces starting on defense, like Steve McLendon and Keenan Lewis, you can bet that Tomlin and LeBeau will have those players ready to shut down the opposing offense.
The Steelers still have All-Pro players Troy Polamalu and James Harrison to go along with rising stars Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley.
Mike Tomlin has confidence in his stellar defense to make the big stop late in games and they will continue to do so in 2012.
More Stable Offensive Line
he Pittsburgh Steelers spent their first two picks of the 2012 NFL Draft on offensive linemen David DeCastro and Mike Adams to patch up what has been the worst part of the team the past couple of years.
Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 122 times in the past three seasons and has been forced to play injured as a result.
DeCastro is perhaps the best guard prospect in the past decade and Adams has the ability to start right out of the gate. Put them next to All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey and developing starter Marcus Gilbert and the Steelers have one of the better looking young lines in the NFL.
The stability on the offensive line will be conducive to Todd Haley’s hard-nosed running attack and they will give Roethlisberger more time in the pocket to find the open receiver.
Upgrading an offensive line that struggled mightily in 2011 was a big priority during the offseason and it will make Mike Tomlin’s job a lot easier in 2012.
A Healthy Ben Roethlisberger
Down the stretch and in the playoffs last season, it was painfully clear that Ben Roethlisberger’s ankle injury was effecting his play.
Ben is never one to sit on the bench because of an injury and, while it is good to see you quarterback show courage and leadership in playing through the pain, it often caused the team to be ineffective offensively.
Roethlisberger is coming into camp in 2012 finally healthy and it looks like he is poised to have a big year throwing the ball.
With an emphasis on the run game and an upgraded offensive line, Roethlisberger should find himself on the ground a lot less.
It will also open up the field in the passing game and there are few quarterbacks as good at the play-action pass in the NFL as Big Ben.
When Roethlisberger is at his best, Mike Tomlin has one of the truly elite NFL quarterbacks at his disposal.
With a healthy and effective Ben Roethlisberger, there is no reason to believe Mike Tomlin can’t bounce back from a disappointing 2011 and lead the Steelers back to the Super Bowl.