First off…Stephen A. is usually RIGHT ON when it comes to his perception of things large and small – and I recognize that he is a Steeler fan. His principal area of expertise is basketball. He’s been doing this at a high level for years. This morning, I heard the man step over the line in discussing the Steelers new hire for the position of head coach.
Smith envisioned the word “mediocre” in contemplating te hire of former Minnesota Vikings coordinator Mike Tomlin. Smith didn’t blast the hire – but noted that there were a slew of other candidates with better credentials – and that is was worth noting that a job which might traditionally be granted to a white coach, instead, went to a black coach. Aside from the fact that many of those coaches with “better credentials” are mere retreads, the question of mediocrity must come to the center.
Tomlin is certainly inexperienced, but his Vikings were first in the league against the run (and last against the pass). This combination is not all that unusual since strong run defenses often force teams to pass. The Vikings, however, were also ranked 5th in the entire league in passer rating. That’s a tough double to pull off and none of this suggests mediocrity. By any statistical measure, the Vikings defense was well above average.
Stephen A. is usually on the money…but this was a big miss. Tomlin’s success is not guaranteed, but neither is his professional mediocrity in evidence. A top-ranked defense deserves a little respect. If it’s enough for Dan Rooney, it should be enough for that humble sports reporter from Queens.