Mike Tomlin is the AFC North coach of the year
NFL Nation reporters from the AFC North — Jeremy Fowler, Coley Harvey, Jamison Hensley and Pat McManamon — have reviewed the film and sorted through the analytics to determine the 2015 annual awards for the division. On Thursday, we’re handing out the AFC North coach of the year.
Winner: Mike Tomlin
Runner-up: Marvin Lewis
But, in terms of the AFC North, Tomlin was the no-brainer for the coach of the year.
Tomlin led the Steelers to a 10-6 record despite half of their starters (11 of 22) missing games because of injuries, including three current or former All-Pro players. He guided them to a wild-card berth even though quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (four games), running back Le’Veon Bell (eight), centerMaurkice Pouncey (16) and left tackle Kelvin Beachum (10) were sidelined a total of 38 games.
The only other coach who was under consideration was Marvin Lewis, and he didn’t have to overcome nearly as many hurdles as Tomlin, even though the division champion Cincinnati Bengals‘ one significant injury in 2015 was quarterback Andy Dalton. Tomlin went through three starting quarterbacks in 2015 (Roethlisberger, Michael Vick and Landry Jones).
Tomlin also bettered Lewis and the Bengals in an AFC wild-card game, winning with a former Ravens practice squad player at running back (Fitzgerald Toussaint) and an Army Ranger at starting left tackle (Alejandro Villanueva).
Tomlin’s job could be just as challenging in 2016. The Steelers are facing one of the biggest cap crunches in the NFL, and they could lose up to six starters in free agency.