Whenever the Steelers hit a rough patch, a chunk of the team’s fanbase begins to clamor for a coaching change. Amid the team’s current struggles, featuring history-making home losses against a pair of two-win teams, the noise has returned.
And it’s perhaps louder than ever.
Would the Steelers move on from Mike Tomlin? With three coaches since 1969, it’s not their way. With Tomlin having no losing seasons in his first 16 years on the job, it’s inconceivable to believe the Steelers would push Tomlin out if they fail to make the playoffs and fail to finish at or above .500.
That doesn’t mean it’s not time for a change. The question becomes whether Tomlin might think it’s time to leave. He’s got one year left on his contract. He could finish it out and become a free agent; that’s something few NFL coaches ever do. He also could resign, sit out a year, and come back to a new team in 2025 (with compensation to Pittsburgh).
Or the Steelers could essentially trade Tomlin after the coming season.
At a time when there’s plenty of speculation as to whether another team might try to make a move to hire Patriots coach Bill Belichick (with or without compensation), why not call the Steelers regarding Tomlin?
Between the two coaches, Tomlin arguably would be more desirable. He’s 20 years younger, which means he’d have much longer potential tenure as the coach than Belichick.
And Tomlin has done very well. Sure, it’s been 15 years since his only Super Bowl win. Yeah, the Steelers haven’t won a playoff game since 2016. Regardless, plenty of teams have done a lot worse than the Steelers over the past 17 years.
Continuous relevance, for owners, is far more important than a once-per-generation Super Bowl run. The teams that contend each and every year sell all of their tickets — and they see those tickets actually used. Which means more overpriced drinks, hot dogs, and other stuff being sold on game day. More prime-time games. And, as a result, a lot more money.
Look at the teams that could be looking for new coaches. Think of what Tomlin could do for the Commanders, the Chargers, the Bears, or the Buccaneers.
Again, this isn’t about whether the Steelers would fire him. This is about whether Tomlin would be ready and willing to move on. And it’s about whether the Steelers would make a reasonable request for compensation, given that Tomlin needs only to coach one more year before securing the ability to go wherever he chooses as the rarest of NFL commodities.
A head-coaching free agent.
Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin did not have a catch in Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins, and he’s growing frustrated with his role in the offense.
After playing 45 snaps on Sunday but never getting the ball, McLaurin said, “I ran a lot of cardio,” and added, “Yeah, it’s frustrating.”
Commanders head coach Ron Rivera said he and offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy have both talked to McLaurin about his frustrations.
“I’ve talked with Terry before, and we’ve talked about those things, and I know he’s talked to Eric, and he’s gone in, and he and EB have good conversations from what I understand,” Rivera said, via USA Today. “That’s then to me that’s the way you handle it is you go in and you talk directly. I think that’s big of what he’s been doing. It’s been big of him to come in and fight the frustration and talk about it if that’s what needs to be.”
McLaurin is having his worst season across the board: He’s averaging a career-low 11.6 yards per catch, a career-low 6.9 yards per target, a career-low 53.4 yards per game and a career-low 48 percent success rate on his catches. It’s easy to see why he’s frustrated.
Lions defensive back Brian Branch has been one of the best rookies in the NFL this season, and it looks like Detroit got a steal with the 45th pick in the 2023 NFL draft. Branch says he’s as surprised as anyone that he was still there for the Lions to take him at 45.
That’s because Branch said the Commanders assured him that he wouldn’t get past their first-round pick, No. 16 overall.
“The team I for sure thought that was going to get me was the Commanders at No. 16,” Branch said in an NFL Network social media discussion. “I felt like, you know, they told me that if I’m still available at 16, they were going to get me. But I guess you can never take their word, somebody’s word. You got to let it play out. But everything happens for a reason. So I’m glad I’m with Detroit.”
The Commanders took cornerback Emmanuel Forbes with the 16th overall pick. Forbes, who is currently dealing with an elbow injury, has had a less impressive rookie year than Branch. The Lions got the player the Commanders may now wish they had taken.
USC quarterback Caleb Williams — the presumptive No. 1 overall pick in 2024 — recently told the L.A. Times that it’s still a “game-time decision” whether or not he’ll even declare for the draft.
Circumstances have offered another clue of his plans.
Via multiple reporters, USC head coach Lincoln Riley said on Monday that Williams won’t play in the program’s upcoming Holiday Bowl matchup against Louisville.
With Williams’ NFL future at stake, this isn’t much of a surprise. The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner, Williams followed up that campaign by completing 68.6 percent of his passes for 3,633 yards with 30 touchdowns and five interceptions this season. He also rushed for 11 touchdowns.
Williams began his college career at Oklahoma before following Riley to USC via transfer in 2022.
Commanders defensive lineman Jonathan Allen grew up a Washington fan and has played there his entire career, but he wonders if he’s going to need to go elsewhere if he ever wants to win.
Washington’s first-round draft pick in 2017, Allen has never won a playoff game and has only been to the playoffs once, and when he was asked today on 106.7 The Fan whether he ever thinks about leaving the Commanders, he answered, “1000%. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t.”
Allen said he’d love to play for a winning franchise in Washington, but if the Commanders are heading into yet another rebuild, he’d rather be elsewhere.
“I play this game to win and I would love to win here for sure but I want to win first and foremost,” Allen said, via Grant Paulsen. “So that’s always going to be at the front and center of my mind and everything I’m going to be doing in my career is going to make sure I’ll have an opportunity to win.”
The 28-year-old Allen is under contract through 2025, with base salaries of $14 million in 2024 and $15.5 million in 2025. If the Commanders are looking for a rebuild with younger and cheaper players, Allen could be traded next year.