Mike Tomlin reveals how he views coaching differently than other coaches


Mike Tomlin isn’t afraid to put in the work. That’s probably one of the many reasons why he’s never presided over a losing season.

The Steelers coach was a guest this week on The Pivot podcast featuring multiple ex-NFL players, including former Steelers safety Ryan Clark. It was an excellent 90-minute conversation between Tomlin and people who he really seems to respect. They talked about everything from the Antonio Brown to his thoughts on team culture.

Mike Tomlin opens up

One exchange that stands out is when Tomlin discusses his approach to coaching. Unlike some of his peers, Tomlin doesn’t view it as a negative when a player can’t immediately pick up a concept, or needs some help integrating into the NFL. As a coach, that’s what he enjoys doing the most.

“I love coaches who resist the responsibility of coaches,” he said. “They talk negatively about a dude that can’t help. Man, if everybody could learn, we’d need less coaches. If the group didn’t need management, then we wouldn’t make as much. I love reading draft evals, and somebody’s talking about anything other than pedigree. Talking about how poor someone’s hand usage is. Well, that’s coaching.”

Those are profound words, at least in football speak. Blaming players for weaknesses in their games is a great way for coaches to deflect blame.

Tomlin’s philosophy shows how the Steelers are successful when it comes to developing young players. They come into an environment where they’re expected to make mistakes,

“It’s all in line with that not seeking comfort,” Tomlin said. “If you’re a coach and talking about somebody can’t learn, you’re seeking comfort because your teaching is struggling.”

With that kind of accountability, it’s no wonder players enjoy being in Pittsburgh. Tomlin says his top priority when it comes team chemistry is fostering an atmosphere that allows for growth.

“Helplessness is the worst component a team can have,” he said. “Dudes have to believe that they can rise up in the environment and become what they desire to be.”

Tomlin’s mentality as a coach jives with his experiences as a player. Coming out of William & Mary, he says he never got over not being a “great player,” and puts the same energy into coaching.

“We don’t want to admit it, but we coach because we cannot play,” he said.

In a league full of self-aggrandizers, Tomlin is a refreshing breath of fresh air. No wonder why he’s one of the best.