If, and I acknowledge it's a bif if, but, if Tomlin leads the Steelers to a Super Bowl win this year, and drafts a bunch of offensive linemen in April, will he immediately jump ahead of Cowher in Steeler coaching lore?
Wow. Good question.
He inherited a strong if underperforming team from Cowher, but guided it very well his first two years. Last year, he wasn't shaky, he just was trying to establish himself, without putting on some tough guy show or anything. This year, he's totally in control. He's shown both years that he can be a gambler, which infuriates many, but which I love. He hasn't made any tough decisions among the coaching ranks, so we have to see how that pans. But he did transition Porter out and Harrison in, which took some balls.
I think for a true apples to apples comparison, we'll need to see Tomlin here for as long as Cowher was, or almost as long. There's bound to be ups and downs, unless he's the next Dungy of consistency.
I think Cowher was a really, really good coach with some quirks and shortcomings that drove us mad. I think Tomlin has the capacity to exceed him, but it's just way too early to tell.