Mike Tomlin ranks near top of NFL coaches

The Rooneys' exceeding patience with head coaches is only part of the reason why Mike Tomlin isn't in trouble even though the Steelers are coming off consecutive 8-8 seasons.

Tomlin ranked among the top head coaches in the NFL in a project put together by ESPN.com NFL Insider Mike Sando, showing that he is highly-regarded across the league.

Sando polled 30 league insiders – the group included current and former NFL general managers, assistant coaches and coordinators and team executives – and each gave every head coach a score from 1-to-5 with 5 being the highest ranking.

Tomlin received a '1' or a '2' from 28 of the insiders polled, and he tied for sixth with Green Bay's Mike McCarthyInsider in the ranking of the NFL head coaches.

Tomlin and McCarthy, who is a Pittsburgh native, trailed only Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll, Sean Peyton, Andy Reid and Tom Coughlin.

Both were near the top of the second tier of coaches and Tomlin received nine scores that were a '1.'

"For me, a definite 1 is Mike Tomlin," an offensive assistant coach said. "He has (the team's) attention, he can speak every language in the locker room, he is extremely accountable, he understands tradition at the place he is at -- he is one with his building. He has enthusiasm and energy that bleeds into everyone in the organization. They hired a coordinator he did not put his stamp on, but (Todd) Haley is a good football coach, so Tomlin rolls with it. New offensive line coach, he rolls with it. He just keeps rolling."

Tomlin's 71-41 record is the best start by a coach in Steelers history, and in 2008 he led Pittsburgh to its sixth Super Bowl title.

Tomlin became the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl, accomplishing the feat at the age of 36 and in his second season with the Steelers.

Tomlin's critics say that he won the Super Bowl with a ready-made team but one of the insiders who voted in the rankings credited him with the Steelers making a smooth transition after the Bill Cowher era.

"He took a really nice team and took it to another level, and as the team aged on him and they really didn't replenish, he hasn't blinked,” a former NFL head coach said. “He has hung in there and I think they are going to be very good again. I think he has developed the young guys quickly and I think he has stood his ground on, 'Here is what the organization believes -- loyalty, loyalty, loyalty,' and I think he has done a great job of adopting that."