Mike Tomlin knows the Pittsburgh Steelers have only hired three coaches in the last 45 years. He also knows that the organization hasn't had three straight non-winning seasons since the stretch from 1969 to 1971.
After back-to-back 8-8 campaigns, Tomlin doesn't take anything for granted regarding his future.
"I don't assume that," Tomlin told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review when asked about his job security.
"Hopefully (when the season ends), I'm not one of them," Tomlin said.
It's that kind of season in Pittsburgh. General manager Kevin Colbert's rookies like Ryan Shazier have to contribute right away. The free-agent pickups like safety Mike Mitchell and defensive lineman Cam Thomas are being asked to fill big roles. Last year's rookie class (Jarvis Jones, Le'Veon Bell, Markus Wheaton) might be the key to the team. Ben Roethlisberger could earn a new contract with a big year.
It's a make-or-break year for a lot of people in Pittsburgh.
Tomlin has an incredible record during seven seasons in Pittsburgh: 76-44, including the playoffs. But he hasn't won a playoff game since after the 2010 season. Tim Tebow helped to beat the Steelers in the latter's last playoff appearance.
In NFL years, that game feels like a generation ago. Tomlin has an exciting offense to work with and a rebuilt defense that should be younger and faster than the last couple editions. Bill Cowher had these types of "win now or watch out" seasons every now and then, and he usually came through with a division title. It wouldn't surprise us if Tomlin does the same.