a first-year head coach won't put Steelers'
boss Mike Tomlin at a competitive disadvantage
Saturday night, when he matches wits with
Jacksonville Jaguars veteran coach Jack Del
Rio in an AFC wild-card playoff game at Heinz
contrary, history suggests being a coaching
neophyte might slightly benefit Tomlin in his
first playoff game, even if his Steelers are
two-point underdogs to the visiting Jaguars.
the Super Bowl era began with the 1966 season,
a rookie head coach has taken his team to the
playoffs 26 times. In those playoff openers,
the rookies have sported a 14-12 record.
is approaching his first playoff game much
like he did the regular season, when he led
the Steelers to a 10-6 record and an AFC North
"I've got a bunch of mentors and peers
that I respect a great deal, and I know
they're there for me if I need advice,"
Tomlin said. "But ultimately, I've got to
go with my gut, and I've done that. I'll
continue to do that."
fans hope Tomlin fares better than his
predecessor, Bill Cowher.
is the only Steelers coach to make the
playoffs in his first season. But that trip in
1992 became bittersweet, as the Buffalo Bills
handed the Steelers a 24-3 defeat.
rookie coaches have used their first playoff
victory as a springboard to the Super Bowl
title: Don McCafferty with the Baltimore Colts
after the 1970 season and George Seifert with
the San Francisco 49ers following the 1989
season. Oakland's Bill Callahan (2002) and
Denver's Red Miller (1977) reached the Super
Bowl as rookies only to lose the big game.
head coaches were 1-1 in their playoff game
debuts last season. Eric Mangini watched his
New York Jets get destroyed, 37-16, by the New
England Patriots and his former boss, Bill
Belichick. However, Sean Payton guided the New
Orleans Saints to a 27-24 victory over the
Philadelphia Eagles and into the NFC
season, Tomlin is the only rookie among the 12
playoff coaches. Greenfield native Mike
McCarthy is in his second season with the
Green Bay Packers.
the nuggets unearthed about rookie coaches and
the playoffs (see accompanying chart):
AFC West teams are 4-0 in playoff openers, and
NFC South teams are 3-0. Conversely, AFC East
teams are 0-4 in openers under a first-year
The only matchup of first-year coaches was
after the 2000 season, when Jim Haslett's
Saints defeated Mike Martz's St. Louis Rams,
the 32 franchises, 15 have never reached the
playoffs under a rookie coach: Miami,
Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati, Houston,
Jacksonville, Tennessee and Kansas City in the
AFC; Washington, Chicago, Detroit, Green Bay,
Carolina, Tampa Bay, Arizona and Seattle in
Among NFC North teams, Minnesota's Dennis
Green (1992) is the only first-year coach to
reach the playoffs since 1966.