Time to Consider Firing Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin?

NFL Week Six

Over a third of the NFL season is in the books and standings are tight, the way the league brain trust intended.

Here are my takeaways from week six action.

Let's Be Real: Coaching is Steelers' Problem

Mike Tomlin, left. Getty Images

Heading into the Jets’ game, I think most people pretty much believed the Steelers were not as bad as their 0-4 record might indicate.

The Steelers finally won a game, over the decidedly mediocre Jets. Big deal. Now they’re 1-4. They should have a better record, given the talent level of the players.

Where does that leave us? Coaching. Specifically, head coach Mike Tomlin.

Now, I’m not saying the Steelers should be a force in the league, but they should be much better than they’ve been the last season and a half.

Their win over the Jets is the first time the Steelers have looked prepared this year.

The players have not been playing up to their potential and there have been off-field discipline problems. Conditioning appears to be lax. Game plans often seem confusing and sometimes downright puzzling.

People seem uneasy criticizing him, maybe because he’s black, but that time should be passed. After all, there have been nine African-American head coaches in the NFL before Tomlin.

Deion Sanders criticized offensive coordinator Todd Haley for the lack of a running game. True, the Jaguars are the only team worse than the Steelers when it comes to running the ball.

But, Pittsburgh’s woeful running game is only part of the bigger problem, and that big problem starts at the top, with Tomlin.

Easy Pickings

A lot of the experts are handing the AFC championship either to the Broncos or Chiefs, based on the fact they’re only two unbeaten teams left.

Not so fast, smart guys.

Both teams have had schedules soft as a baby’s belly. I’ve already talked about Denver’s easy schedule and if you use current records, the Broncos’ projected schedule is the easiest in the league.

That can cut both ways. It gives them an easier road to the playoffs, but soft schedules often don’t harden teams in the regular season. Teams that aren’t scarred and battle-tested in the regular season can often get surprised in the playoffs.

Yes, the Chiefs now officially have the NFL’s loudest stadium, but let’s check out that 6-0 record.

They’ve beaten the Jaguars, Giants and Raiders, three of the worst teams in the league.

Then they’ve beaten the Cowboys, Eagles, and Titans, none of whom have winning records.

Either the Broncos or Chiefs could easily win the AFC and go to the Super Bowl, but I’ll be more convinced when they’ve beaten some of the league’s better teams.

Let’s see how the Broncos do this weekend against the Colts.

Puzzling Packers

Right behind the Broncos and Chiefs, I’d rank the next best as the Colts, 49ers, and Packers.

Yes, I’m leaving out the Patriots and Seahawks. I’m a big believer in Tom Brady, but his receiving corps is just too weak.

And the Seahawks might be possibly the most talented team in the league, but they make too many mistakes.

Still, they have a favorable schedule and they’re getting some offensive linemen back and Percy Harvin should be re-joining the team soon.

Why do I like the Colts, 49ers, and Packers?

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck just keeps getting better and better.

San Francisco seems to have found a dynamic, offensive balance and is on an impressive three-game winning streak, and also can look forward to Michael Crabtree returning soon.

That should be a five-game streak soon. They play the Titans without starting quarterback Jake Locker, and then the Jaguars before getting a week off.

And then there are the Packers. I admit the Packers are puzzling. They have a stout defense and a balanced offense with one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Aaron Rodgers.

But, they should be scoring more points.

They’re racking up some nice little stats, but just don’t seem able to take it all the way home. Green Bay is second to Denver in total offense, but only 12th in scoring.

The Packers started slow, but they’re showing signs of regaining some of that preseason strut, the latest example being their beating of the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens on the road.

The Packers never seem to moan about injuries, and they always seem to have somebody who steps up and fills in admirably. They’ll need someone to do that at wide receiver if injuries to James Jones and Randall Cobb are serious.

Bucs Better Off Without Freeman

Tampa Bay has to be feeling better about jettisoning malcontent Josh Freeman these days.

It’s not that rookie quarterback Mike Glennon lit up the Buc record books, but he played pretty well in only his second NFL start, and in Tampa Bay that’s at least …something.

Glennon had 26 completions, two touchdowns and only one interception in the Bucs’ 31-20 loss to the Eagles.

Freeman, meanwhile, is certain to be embroiled in a quarterback controversy in Minnesota. Fans are sick of Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel obviously isn’t the answer.