Steelers' Tomlin experiencing urgency entering 2014
ORLANDO, Fla. — Mike Tomlin owns what arguably is the most secure head coaching position in the NFL, a league in which job tenure outside of Pittsburgh sometimes is measured in months, not years.
The Steelers: Three head coaches in 45 years. The Cleveland Browns: Three head coaches in three years.
But Tomlin acknowledged Tuesday at the annual NFL owners meetings that he feels a sense of urgency about the 2014 season.
He didn't compare it to the need-to-win-now feeling he had in any other season, but it's there.
It's not necessarily because of the 8-8 record in 2012, the 8-8 record in 2013 or that the Steelers sat out of the playoffs in successive seasons for the first time since 1998-2000.
Rather, he said losers don't stay around forever in a league that is all about winning.
“I don't assume that,” Tomlin said when asked about the stability that goes with working for the Steelers. “I like the urgency of now. I embrace that. It's a motivator for me, personally. I just enjoy the challenge that the NFL presents on a day-to-day basis, and I enjoy doing it with the collection of men that I work with in Pittsburgh.”
He illustrated that thinking when a reporter from outside Pittsburgh attending the AFC coaches breakfast asked him about not reaching his goal of making the playoffs.
“Getting to the postseason is not my goal,” Tomlin said, a bit emphatically. “My goal is to win the world championship.”
The Steelers haven't been in a position to do that in two-plus years. They haven't been in the playoffs since the 2011 season or won a postseason game since the 2010 season. He understands that's probably beginning to wear on fans accustomed to enjoying as much playoff winning in a decade as those of some teams do in a lifetime.
Still, Tomlin said, “I'd rather have high expectations than low ones.”
In other cities, it was pointed out to Tomlin, it would be seen as a positive that the Steelers encouragingly turned around their 2013 season by winning six of their final eight after starting 2-6.
“That doesn't dance in Western Pa., and I'm cool with that,” Tomlin said. “It's our goal and ambition on a yearly basis to compete for and win the world championship, as it should be. Our fans deserve that because they're special.”
After the Steelers missed out on the playoffs on the final day of the regular season, Tomlin's focus shifted almost immediately to next season.
“I get into 2014, (and) I don't assume anything,” Tomlin said. “What happened in 2013 is 2013. Obviously, it wasn't what we wanted. But at the same time, there were some positive things to build upon as we prepare for 2014.”
To Tomlin, the pressure to win isn't tempered by the likelihood he won't get fired before the team bus arrives home from the final regular-season game, as the Browns did with former coach Rob Chudzinski last season.
“Our business is winning,” Tomlin said.
A little bit later, he added, “These aren't easy jobs.”
Not even in Pittsburgh.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
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