The Pittsburgh Steelers will enter Week 16 with a 6-8 record. They are third in the AFC North, behind the Cincinnati Bengals and the reigning Super Bowl Champions, Baltimore Ravens.
Mike Tomlin is under scrutiny for his choice in offensive coordinator. It appears after a two-year sample size that releasing Bruce Arians in place of Todd Haley was not a great move.
Then there is the unfortunate sideline incident that may rob the Steelers of a draft choice in the NFL 2014 Draft.
But pump the brakes, the Steelers played the Sunday night prime time game against the Bengals as if they cared.
Unlike, the Houston Texans, the Steelers have found a reason to finish out the season.
It is still a losing season. The Steelers are still the third best team in a division they once dominated. And Tomlin compromised the intergrity of the organization with his misguided attempt to watch the return on the big screen.
It would be out of character for the Steelers' organization to fire Tomlin on Black Monday. But some would argue that the Steelers need a change of pace.
Here are five viable candidates to replace Mike Tomlin:
Kirby Smart, Defensive Coordinator, Alabama Crimson Tide
Smart is a long shot as he and Nick Saban are joined at the hip. Smart is the highest-paid coordinator in college football. He is also one of the best defensive coordinators in college football. Is it time for him to get out of Saban's shadow?
Cowher last coached in 2006. That was one year after he lead the Steelers to the Super Bowl Championship. Cowher insisted that he did not leave the game to come back. Isn't that what they all say?
Cowher's coaching tenure is as a Steeler. Wouldn't it be best to go back to what you know?
Mike Zimmer, Defensive Coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals
Zimmer is in his sixth season as the Bengals' defensive coordinator. In all six seasons the Bengals' defense has made solid improvements. And did I mention the Bengals currently lead the AFC North, thanks in a large part to their defense.
With Zimmer the Steelers not only get a defensive minded coach, but one who is really good, and familiar with them.
Smith last coached in 2012. That is when he lead the Chicago Bears to a 10-6 record and was fired. Close your eyes and think of the difference the Bears' defense when Smith was there and one year later.
Enter Chuckie! Gruden's name comes up whenever there is an opening. He is that good? Gruden has said he will not leave the broadcast booth without the "perfect situation". It is hard to imagine a situation more perfect that a head coaching gig with the Steelers.
Yes, they are all defensive minded coaches. It is the defense of the Steelers that will require the most re-organization. And no disrespect to the legend Dick Lebeau, but it is time for the head coach to make the necessary adjustments on the defensive side. The necessary decisions, the hard decisions, the decisions that will once again make the Steelers' competitive.
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