Aubrey Bruce: Go west young man, go west…Tomlin should be in the Hall of Fame when it’s all said and done

by Aubrey Bruce, For New Pittsburgh Courier

Hey ladies and gents, I may need your input regarding the Steelers’ acquisition and their recent trade of wide receiver Chase Claypool. When Claypool was drafted by the Steelers in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft, he was lauded by many as the second coming of Christ…well, I may be slightly embellishing the event, but he was at the very most considered by many talking heads and “fogged” in bloggers as the second coming of Jerry Rice. He ended up becoming at the very least, the Siamese twin of former Steelers and current Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster. However, if folks don’t accept the premise that they were joined at the hip because they were drafted at different times, we all must agree based on their most recent opinion of Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin that we could at least theoretically assume that they could have surgically been joined at the lips. For the 101st time, I am going to remind everyone of the excellence of Mike Tomlin because if people continue to falsely point out how theoretically bad they think he is, I am going to factually point out the fact of how good he is.

Tomlin’s NFL coaching career began when he was hired as the defensive backs coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2001 under head coach Tony Dungy, where he first learned the Tampa 2 defense that he would use in later coaching jobs. Tomlin was retained under new head coach Jon Gruden and in 2002 and 2005, the Buccaneers led the NFL in total defense (fewest yards allowed per game). When he coached with Tampa Bay, the defense never placed lower than sixth. When the Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII in January 2003, the team recorded a Super Bowl-record five interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns. Five, five, not one, two or three picks but five, with three returned for touchdowns. Holy moly!

And by the way, did I neglect to mention that Mike Tomlin has never had a losing record during his 15 seasons as a head coach, which is the longest ever streak in the NFL? Take that, affirmative action. All I can say is I am thankful that the Rooney Rule was created and that the late Dan Rooney practiced what he preached.

For years a plethora of negative comments have been coming from ex-Steelers players and coaches beginning with, but not ending with, Antonio Brown, James Harrison, Mike Wallace, Ryan Clark and ex-Steelers head coach Bill Cowher.

The following is just a brief sample of the cantankerous and often unjustified criticism of the future NFL head coach. “There is no discipline in the locker room of the Black and Gold, Tomlin is too soft. He makes many wrong decisions. He doesn’t throw the challenge flag enough. He should have gone for the first down on 4th and 3. He should not have gone for the 1st down on 4th and 3. The eagle flies on Friday, the eagle doesn’t fly on Friday. Did she go over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house or did she take the parkway or route 28……you diggg…”

If Bill Cowher could be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, then by all means they should erect a separate room to house the bronze bust of Mike Tomlin.

Remember in the beginning? Mike Tomlin won because of the players that Bill Cowher left behind. Well, what about the players that Chuck Noll left on the shelf for Bill Cowher?

The only one that basically had to almost start from scratch was Chuck Noll because the talent reservoir that he was forced to mold and work with was almost bone dry. For all intents and purposes, he rebuilt and retooled the Steelers machine. All of the Steelers coaches have left and will continue to leave an indelible mark on the team. I am hitting fast forward now. Of all of the Steelers’ remaining opponents, only the Bengals and the Ravens have records above .500. Of the games that remain to be played, the Steelers can go 4-2 and their head coach is a defensive guru. By the way, it is possible that they may finish above .500. Go west young man, go west.

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