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Tomlin's season good, but not NFL's most impressive

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Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011

Mike Tomlin had one phenomenal year.

Seemingly, every decision he made, every button he pushed, every problem that arose, he made the right call.

Just figure what has transpired over the past 12 months and how it worked out in Tomlin's favor.

He identified that the team needed upgrades at offensive line and special teams, so he hired Sean Kugler and Al Everest, and both units upgraded their play significantly.

He drafted Maurkice Pouncey in the first round and had the guts to start the rookie on opening day. Pouncey is now is a Pro Bowl center.

Then you had the way he handled the Ben Roethlisberger situation, the ensuing how-to-use-Ben controversy during training camp and the preseason and still was able to rally his team to an improbable 3-1 start without Roethlisberger.

If that wasn't enough, he was able to publicly present a strong front about the conspiracy theory that went along with James Harrison's continuous fines while rallying the team behind closed doors.

Just for that, Tomlin could easily be named the NFL Coach of the Year next week.

But he won't, and when you look a little closer, others deserve it much more than Tomlin. Like Kansas City's Todd Haley and Tampa Bay's Raheem Morris.

Despite what Tomlin has been able to deal with in winning the AFC North title, he falls in the same category of the other potential winners like Bill Belichick, Mike Smith, Jim Harbaugh and Andy Reid -- those hindered in their quest for a coach of the year award by talent and expectations.

The bottom line is that the Steelers, like the Patriots, Falcons, Ravens and Eagles, all have proven talent to work with and franchise-type quarterbacks to rely on.

Haley and Morris had none of that.

The Chiefs won 10 games this year -- the same number they won from 2007-09 -- with Matt Cassel as their quarterback, and the Buccaneers had 22 rookies on the roster at one point or another this year but still won seven more games with Josh Freeman as their quarterback than they did a year ago.

Tomlin's a viable candidate, but not a lock to win the award, because others did more with a lot less.

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