LONDON -- Let's get a few things straight. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley won't be fired this season, Mike Tomlin won't be fired after the season, and the only way Kevin Colbert is going to leave is when he retires.
The Steelers have never fired an offensive coordinator midseason. Never. The closest they came was 1998 when Bill Cowher took the play-calling duties away from Ray Sherman late in the season, then fired him after his only season.
Those who might think Tomlin is on the hot seat need two history lessons. The first would be the history of Tomlin with the Steelers. He was the fourth-fastest coach to 60 victories in NFL history. He is the only Steelers coach to win a Super Bowl in his second season as their coach, then got there again two years later.
And don't tell me he did it with Bill Cowher's talent. Bill Cowher's talent went 8-8 in his final season, 2006. They said the same thing about Cowher early in his career, that he did it with Chuck Noll's talent. Chuck Noll's talent could not make the playoffs in his final two seasons, but Cowher took that talent to 11-5 in 1992 after that talent went 7-9 in 1991 -- Noll's final season.
That's what good coaching does, getting the best out of his talent.
As for the history of Steelers firing head coaches, do we really need to go back over this? The Steelers have had three coaches since 1969. Noll made the playoffs only once in his final seven seasons and he wasn't fired. Cowher's teams did not make the playoffs in 1998, 1999 or 2000, with losing records in the first of those two seasons. And what did the Steelers do? They gave him a contract extension after 2000.
So they are not going to fire Tomlin after this season. Maybe if this continues he won't make it until 2019.
A member of the media asked Mike Tomlin two weeks ago if he would ever consider allowing the Steelers on HBO's "Hard Knocks." Tomlin's reply: "Obviously that decision would be up to the Rooneys from an ownership standpoint, but I don't see the advantages of it from a personal standpoint."
Well, the Steelers are doing something similar on this trip to London, only it won't be HBO's cameras following them around. It will be those from another cable television network, Discovery. Call it "Soft Knocks."
Camera crews from NFL Films swarmed the Steelers training facility last week and one has followed them here. The Discovery Channel will broadcast the results at 10 p.m. Friday.
While it's not HBO, Discovery promoted the fact that its cameras would have "all access" and be in meeting rooms.
It's one thing to follow a team around in training camp, quite another leading up to the fourth game of the season. Is this another distraction the 0-3 Steelers needed? What can it hurt? Maybe they should have done it for the first three games.
Plus, my sources tell me they really did not have "all access," they had "partial access," and not the kind you're used to seeing on "Hard Knocks." So, "Soft Knocks" it is.
Just win ... and win ... and win
The Steelers now are faced with trying to do something on par with what they did in 2005. What? They won the Super Bowl that year. Yes, we know, but we did not know that when they were 7-5 and had to win eight in a row. No team had ever won a Super Bowl as the final seed, playing three postseason games on the road just to get there.
They did it, and teams have done it since in similar fashion.
So now they are 0-3 and only three teams since 1990 have lost their first three and turned things around to make the playoffs. That's out of 115 who lost their first three. The Steelers almost became the fourth in 2000 when they rebounded to go 9-7 but fell short of the playoffs. The last team to do so was Buffalo in 1998.
This team does not look like one that could do it, but I picked the Steelers 10-6 before the season started for a reason -- they have the kind of talent to do so. Yet for all the high draft picks they have poured into the offensive line, they have to be horrified how they are playing. Two No. 1s and two No. 2s. Granted Maurkice Pouncey isn't playing, but even if he were healthy and playing at a Pro Bowl level again, that wouldn't help what's going on at tackle.
Their tackles are playing so poorly that Mike Tomlin felt it necessary to rotate Kelvin Beachum at left tackle and swap back and forth at right tackle with Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert.
This is shades of Tom Ricketts, the left tackle at Pitt the Steelers drafted in the first round in 1989. They called him a natural left tackle -- until they got him to training camp and moved him to guard, because his feet weren't quick enough to play tackle.
Just because they invested high draft picks into their line does not mean those guys are going to live up to their resume, and so far they have not. The line is as bad as ever -- and it hasn't been good for about five years -- and now Ben Roethlisberger is 31 and cannot avoid the rush as he did when he was 25.
What's in a number? Apparently not much
As with those high picks in the line, how do we know Le'Veon Bell will be any good in the pros? Because he did it at Michigan State and the Steelers drafted him in the second round?
There was another first-round pick from that 1989 draft. His name was Tim Worley and he did it at Georgia, too, and came to the Steelers and did not do it.
Maybe the Steelers should start trading away their high picks and gather up more of them in the middle rounds, where they seem to have more success.
At 0-3, the Steelers have a chance to lose their first four for the first time in 45 years. That's when they lost their first six in 1968 and coach Bill Austin was fired and Chuck Noll was hired in 1969. They have more talent than that team and the league is more balanced. Soon, they'll have to start showing it.
A reminder that figures can lie
Ben Roethlisberger's game against the Bears was somewhat reminiscent of Tommy Maddox's 2002 game at home against the expansion Houston Texans. In that game, the Steelers piled up 422 yards to Houston's 47, had 24 first downs to Houston's 3, yet lost a shocker by 24-6. They rolled up all those yards and scored six points.
Here's how: The Texans returned two Maddox interceptions for touchdowns and not just close ones -- one of 70 yards and one of 65 -- and also returned a Maddox fumble 40 yards for a touchdown.
Sunday night's game did not match that -- Roethlisberger only gave up two direct TDs on a fumble and an interception -- but it was the closest thing to that 2002 game. The Steelers had 459 yards to 258 for Chicago.
First Published September 29, 2013 4:00 AM