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Friday, December 19, 2014

Tomlin to Coach Steelers

Mike Silver of SI.com reports the Steelers will name Minnesota Vikings’ defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin their new head coach.  The plans have now been confirmed by Chris Mortensen of ESPN.  Tomlin is extremely young, and at 34, he would be a very similar hire to Eric Mangini of the Jets last off-season, who was also 34 when signed by the Jets.  If you’re wondering how such a young guy gets noticed, here’s the explanation from Silver:

“Tomlin, 34, impressed the Steelers during the interview process with his organization skills, intelligence and grasp of the game, according to a source familiar with the coaching search.”

So much for just fulfilling minority requirements – Tomlin is now the 6th African-American head coach in the NFL. 

If you’re wondering where this hire comes from, Tomlin became a strong interviewing candidate after leading the Vikings to the league’s best rush defense last year.  The Vikings allowed just under an incredibly low 62 yards per game, and under 3 yards per rush.  Before getting too excited however, the Vikings also yielded the most passing yards in the league along with the Bengals.  Considering the numbers, I question how much of the success is due to Tomlin, and how much is due to the outstanding personnel in the rush defense such as former top picks Kevin Williams and Kenechi Udeze.      

NFL scout and analyst Chris Landry tells me that Tomlin has an incredible ability to lead and that he’s very commanding and respected by players.  Despite these claims, I would have elected to go with offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and stay within the organization.  The guy had a feel for the team, he was well-respected by the players, and he seems to be very commanding. 

Additionally, what does it say about offensive line coach Russ Grimm and the aforementioned Whisenhunt, who both interviewed?  Did Bill Cowher leave them hanging out to dry?  You have to wonder if Cowher still had enough juice to leave the team in one of their hands.  This leaves me scratching my head about Whisenhunt and Grimm’s abilities.    

It is worth noting that Bill Cowher was just 35 years old when he was hired, and that the Steelers went outside the organization when they brought him in 15 years ago from Kansas City.  Cowher was a defensive coordinator under Marty Schottenheimer at the time.


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