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Thought of the Day II

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

Our latest "Thought of the Day" blog in the AFC North was very interesting, to say the least.

John from Johnstown, Pa. makes a compelling case that current Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is and will be superior to former Steelers coach and potential Hall of Famer Bill Cowher.

Here is what the rest of our AFC North community had to say in response to John's comments:


Pro Tomlin!


Stilly from Pittsburgh writes: Hey James, I must say I completely agree with John from Johnstown that, so far, Mike Tomlin has shown that he is a better overall coach than Bill Cowher. In only 2 seasons, it's quite evident that Tomlin runs a much tighter ship than his predecessor, placing emphasis on personal accountability and eschewing style points for wins. Cowher's biggest weakness had always been his unwillingness to take chances in big games and letting teams hang around in the fourth quarter. Cowher played to not lose, while Tomlin plays to win.

TJ from Pittsburgh writes: It was apparent to me the day Tomlin was hired that he was a special coach. I agree that Tomlin is and will ultimately be considered a better coach. I can see him having a greater longevity and success than Cowher. He may even surpass Noll. I hope he stays for 20+ years.

Mark from St. Louis, MO writes: I think the poster who stated that Tomlin is a better coach than Cowher is on target. While I respect the job Cowher did, I can't help but wonder how many big games he let slip away because he got the "yips". Even Cowher's coaching tree shows signs of the same (I don't think that the Super Bowl would have had the same outcome had the Cardinals not wasted the first half "establishing the run"--a direct fault of the head coach, Ken Whisenhunt, and OC). I think Tomlin made some mistakes in the Jax playoff game after the '07 season, but I also think that he learned from them. It seems the learning curve for him is a lot steeper than for Cowher, who seemed to take a long time to understand when something wasn't working. Tomlin understands that "imposing your will" on your opponent simply REQUIRES you to finish the game with more points. Cowher, on the other hand, never quite embraced that philosophy. That's one reason why Tomlin is already so well-regarded.

Justin from Oakland writes: Hey James, I wanted to chime in on Tomlin vs. Cowher in your Thought of the Day section. I agree with John, at the moment, Tomlin surpasses Cowher as a coach in my eyes. Things may go against Tomlin in the future, but only time will tell. Support for this conclusion is based on the following statistics: Superbowl Records: Tomlin (1-0); Cowher (1-1) AFC Championship Game: Tomlin (1-0); Cowher (2-4). Tomlin at home in said game (1-0); Cowher (1-4). Overall Playoff Record: Tomlin (3-1); Cowher (12-9). Seems equal here, but basically if Cowher doesn't get that Super Bowl XL championship his overall playoff record is (8-9) and would be looked back on as a good regular season, big game loser/choke artist coach (like Marty Schottenheimer). Conversely, Tomlin has already cemented his legacy with the Super Bowl win. And, I have more confidence in him going forward to take advantage of the #1 or #2 playoff seedings and home field advantage that the Steelers often earn in the playoffs than I ever did in Cowher.

Hutch from Lexington, KY writes: Hey James, The virtue of Tomlin seems to be that ultimately his approach to games is pragmatic - he doesn't rely so much of scheme as on what kind of scheme can work with the current roster. One of the downfalls to Cowher was his dogmatic adherence to his 3 yards and a cloud of dust offense - it made him especially easy to figure our during many of his disappointing playoff runs. If it hadn't been for Whiz's game plans in 05 the Steelers would probably have made an early exit then as well. The only sort of identity Tomlin seems to want to establish is a winning one; if we can hit them in the mouth with the run game we will, if we have to go to the air we can do that too. What both have seemed to excel at though, is getting the most out of their players. And that's what makes for championship teams and coaches.


Cowher Power!


Rich from Waldorf, MD writes: Wow, indeed. I'm afraid that John, like many of us in Steelers Nation, has WAY too short a memory. Do not get me wrong... I think Tomlin is on the road to greatness... I really do. And I couldn't be happier with the Rooney's hiring him. But before we anoint him greater than a Hall-of-Famer like Cowher, how about we get 15 years down the road first, and see how things shake out? Or... at the very least, let Tomlin get two rings, so that... if nothing else... he can boast that over Cowher... not that he would boast... but this "Tomlin is better than Cowher" thing is a bit premature... perhaps a bit of the high from winning the SB this season still lingers... let's enjoy the moment, Steelers Nation... there'll be time to compare these guys down the road some...

Doug from Corydon, IN writes: While both are great coaches and I'm glad they coached my team, I'm not sure Tomlin is better than Cowher, yet. As far as phoning in the '06 I can't buy that. Cowher was too much of a competitor to give up. It was a combination of things. Ben Roethlisberger had his accident, and as a result wasn't in the right mind to play football and had his worst season by far. Faneca was becoming upset about his contract and causing a stir in the locker room, Jerome Bettis had retired and the locker room was missing a leader, and rumors were flying around that Cowher was on his way out. This is a lot to deal with for any team, no matter how strong of a unit they are.

Reader from Cincinnati writes: It's ridiculous to suggest that Tomlin is better than Bill Cowher already. He's off to a fast start - yes. But Tomlin essentially inherited the regime that Cowher built. Where would Tomlin be without Dick LeBeau - or Cowher personnel picks of Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, Willie Parker, Heath Miller, Santonio Holmes, James Farrior, et al.? Let's wait and see how Tomlin handles a few bad years as Cowher did in the late 90s. And let's wait and see how he does with his second, third, and fourth defensive coordinator when LeBeau retires. You don't judge a coach by one or two seasons. If you applied that logic in the realm of music, you may very well be ranking The Jonas Brothers over The Rolling Stones.

TJ from Newark, Oh writes: Hey James. I am a die hard Steelers fan. I think there is no doubt that Tomlin is fantastic and has the potential to become a legendary coach, but come on? He has only coached for 2 seasons. Let's give him 15 years and see how he does. Remember, in Cowher's 15 years, no other franchise won more games. He had something like 10 playoff seasons including 6 or so in a row. And let's look at the teams each man inherited. Cowher had a good fo
otball team his first year and went 11-5, clinched home field and lost to the Bills, but that team had a lot of work to do, in which Cowher was the highly responsible for getting us back to dominance. Tomlin has came in with a stacked team, a better QB, RB, Receivers, and D. I am optimistic that I will one day agree with John that Tomlin is a better coach, but he still has a lot to prove before he gains that title in my book.

Reader from Lakewood, OH writes: Hey James. John brings up some great points. A coach has to be multidimensional to be successful. He's got to be a motivator, a great decision maker on and off the field, and be able to develop and retain smart quality football players. Cowher has done this and deserves to be in the HOF. Tomlin is my new favorite and I don't believe he is better than Cowher as a complete head coach. He can however easily surpass what Cowher has done in half the time. Can you say three straight HOF head coaches? Now that's longevity.....Craig from Lakewood.

Continue to send your thoughts on this topic to our AFC North inbox. On Thursday we will run the "Thought of the Day” finale with a final verdict.