While the New England Patriots have been the class of the NFL since Bill Belichick became the head coach in 2000, no franchise has been more consistent over the past 50 years than the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers have had just three head coaches over the past 47 years and that’s not a typo. Chuck Noll served from 1969-91, Bill Cowher led from 1992-2006, while Mike Tomlin has been the head coach since 2007.
For comparison, the Dolphins, Bills, and Jets have combined for three head coaching changes since 2015.
“They have great continuity,” Belichick said about the Steelers. “I mean they’ve had three coaches since what – the late ‘60’s? Coach [Bill] Cowher, Coach [Mike] Tomlin, that goes what – 25 years? Two general managers, two coaches; they’ve had a lot of continuity.”
The Steelers have had just three people serve in a general manager capacity since 1971. Dick Haley, father of current Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, led the franchise from 1971-90, Tom Donahoe was in charge from 1991-99, and Kevin Colbert has been in charge since 2000.
“When you have continuity like they have in their organization – they haven’t really changed defenses much over that same quarter of a century – so as a scout, I mean I could scout for the Steelers,” Belichick joked (!!). “I mean I’ve seen them, they do the same thing, they stay with it, so you know what kind of players they’re looking for at each position. They build up, they have a very extensive scheme through their continuity so they do quite a bit in terms of the volume of their plays that you have to defend but they can do them because they’ve been doing them over and over again and they have a lot of the same guys doing them.”
While the Steelers haven’t had the same internal progression of coaches that the Patriots have had under Belichick- Pittsburgh enjoys hiring former head coaches to serve as coordinators- the offensive and defensive systems have been fairly consistent over the years, and the Steelers do a better job than most at finding and developing players that can thrive in the NFL.
On offense, the Steelers have the best wide receiver tree in recent memory, going from Hines Ward and Nate Washington to Mike Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders to Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Sammie Coates.
On defense, the Steelers are still trying to rebuild after dominating the 2000s decade.
“They’ve built their team on explosive playmakers and guys on defense that can turn the ball over with speed,” Belichick highlighted. “They can turn the ball over, so they’ve got some great size and athleticism up front...they’ve got good players, they’re well coached and they have a good program. It’s all good.”
While retirement may be off in the distance for Belichick, the Patriots would love for the franchise to have such a lengthy and consistent run of success as the Steelers have had for the past half-century.