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How Mike Tomlin Has Impressed Steelers Newcomer So Far

Mike Tomlin and the Steelers have just two 10-win seasons over the last six years, and they haven’t won a playoff game since the 2016 season. Yet, he remains seemingly one of the NFL’s most protected head coaches.

There is, of course, a reason for that. Tomlin is one of the most consistent head coaches in the NFL, as evidenced by his lack of a losing season over 17 years in Pittsburgh. He also has the ability to connect with players that is matched by few if any members of that coaching fraternity.

Thus, it comes as little surprise to hear new Steelers wideout Van Jefferson speak glowingly of his new boss.

“Just an awesome coach, awesome human being,” Jefferson told reporters Wednesday at Steelers OTAs. Someone who takes pride in coaching and loves the game of football. You want that as a football coach, and like I said, (being) on the outside and now seeing it inside, it’s totally different. I didn’t know he didn’t have a losing season (here). It’s a testament to the work he’s put in and how great of a coach he is.”

The 27-year-old Jefferson knows a thing or two about success in the NFL. His dad, Shawn, is a former NFL receiver who went into coaching after his playing days and is the receivers coach for the Jets. Van Jefferson was raised in the NFL, so it’s no surprise he gravitated toward someone like Tomlin.

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As for what Jefferson can do on the field, he has a good opportunity in front of him. There’s a clear void for No. 2 receiver on the Steelers’ depth chart behind George Pickens.

He’s also reuniting with offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, who was the head coach in Atlanta last season when the Falcons traded for Jefferson at the deadline. Smith used him sparingly, with Jefferson playing just 45% of the offensive snaps after the trade. With playing time and solid quarterback play in the past, he has been effective, though. His best season came in 2021, his second in the league, when he played in all 17 games for the Los Angeles Rams, hauling in 50 of 89 targets for 802 yards and six touchdowns — all career-highs.

If Russell Wilson has anything left in the tank, Jefferson could become a viable threat again in short order.

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Featured image via Kareem Elgazzar/USA TODAY Sports Images