Sunday's Game Against the Jets is a Must-Win for Mike Tomlin's Legacy

Photo Credit: Nick Wass/AP Photo

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Mike Tomlin has been a great head coach.  I know some will disagree with that right-off-the-bat, and potentially close out of this without even reading simply due to that sentence.  Regardless, I stand by Mike Tomlin being a great head coach to this point in his career.

He has proven himself time and time again to take some lousy rosters, either due to injury or lack of talent, and get the most out of them.  Winning seasons isn't the end-goal obviously, but it's a lot harder to win Super Bowls if you have a losing record in the regular season.  And Tomlin continues to avoid losing records for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

However, we are seeing Tomlin's first season as a head coach where he does not have a future Hall of Fame quarterback under center.  And so far, there is a lot left to be desired.  The Pittsburgh Steelers are 1-2, and while the lone win was against the reigning AFC Champions and division rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals, the offense looks inept.  Also, the two losses were against a New England Patriots team that appears to have had its best days walk out the door with Tom Brady, and a Deshaun Watson-less Cleveland Browns team.  

Also, while that win against the Bengals was made possible by a dominant defensive performance, injuries, especially one sustained by T.J. Watt, may not make that possible moving forward.  The offense will need to put some points on board.  That has been difficult to do in the Steelers first three games so far.  

Now, the New England Patriots will never be pushovers as long as they have Bill Belichick walking the sideline.  And anytime you go into a divisional opponent's stadium, it's a tough test.  It's also been difficult adjusting to life without Watt, and there is a new quarterback getting used to the offense and his wide receivers.  

However, he Steelers now welcome the New York Jets to Acrisure Stadium.  The Jets remain a bad football team, and a young Zach Wilson is playing in his first game of the season.  This should be a welcome transition for Steeler fans since, in my opinion, Joe Flacco starting for the Jets at quarterback would have posed a greater threat than Zach Wilson will. 

Furthermore, the Jets defense has not been great this season.  They have given up 24, 30, and 27 points in their first three games respectively.  While the defense hasn't been the reason for their losses against Baltimore and Cincinnati, they didn't particularly win them the game either.  In fact it was the Jets offense, who looked terrible against Baltimore and Cincinnati, that won them the game against Cleveland in Week 2. 

If the Steelers can't find increased offensive output against this Jets team, a change has to be made.  Sure, a lot of the blame can be put on quarterback Mitch Trubisky and Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada, but Tomlin should take some of the blame as well.  If he is going to be given credit for the seasons that he had Ben Roethlisberger leading the offense, then he must also take the blame now that he doesn't.  

If the Steeler lose to this Jets team, at home, starting a second year quarterback for the first time all season, as 3.5 point favorites, I think it is okay to begin to question Tomlin's legacy.  He had a Hall of Fame quarterback his entire head coaching career so far and we are finally seeing what happens when he doesn't.  It's important to evaluate coaches in that aspect just as people will do so with even the best coach in the NFL, Bill Belichick.  If Belichick isn't beyond judgement now that he is without Tom Brady, then Tomlin is not beyond judgement now that he is without Roethlisberger.  

So as much as Sunday's game against the Jets is a must-win for the Steelers, it is also must-win for Mike Tomlin's Steeler legacy.