With the Steelers looking less than a powerhouse the last two weeks against cake opponents, there seems to be a heightening chorus of criticism leveled at Mike Tomlin, not all of it undeserved.
My hopes at the outset of the season were merely that the Steelers return to the playoffs and vie for the division crown. So far, they are in terrific position on both scores. The early season blowouts may have stoked higher expectations than those in the offseason, but had you told me the Steelers would be 8-3 through 11 games back in July, I'd have been borderline giddy after the debacle of '06.
Tomlin certainly takes the blame when it comes to the team coming out flat against poor teams. The decision to sign Sean Mahan and dump Chukky Oboki isn't looking all that sagacious either. And don't get Steelers fans started on Chidi Iwouma.
Remember, of course, that this is Tomlin's first year as a head coach on ANY level of football. The expectations of Steelers fans being as astronomical as they are, I can't expect people to share these views, but I think the guy is going to improve considerably in the short term.
I'm not waving the flag on this season. This Steelers team, when playing at their peak, can beat any team in the league. If they can put together a string of consistent performances and get some semblance of stability on the offensive line, the Super Bowl is a strong possibility.
If not this year, the next few don't look so terrible either.