PITTSBURGH -- Mike Tomlin's debut with the Pittsburgh Steelers -- a 34-7 victory over the Cleveland Browns 10 years ago this weekend -- was so nondescript and businesslike that then-backup Charlie Batch can only recall what happened two days later.
"I remember a lot of people [told Tomlin], 'Wow, they hold you up to a pretty high standard because your first game, you blow out Cleveland and Charlie Frye immediately got traded,'" Batch said of Cleveland's quarterback shuffle on Sept. 11, 2007, two days after the game. "If that’s the case, we have to work every week to get the opposing quarterback traded."
Back in Cleveland for Week 1 of the 2017 season, Tomlin is 45, fresh off another contract extension and coaching arguably his most talented team in years.
In between this Browns sandwich, Tomlin's career features 10 ingredients that are uniquely his.
Consistency: Steelers fans who like to rip Tomlin for sport should consider the short list he's on: Mike Ditka, Tony Dungy, Joe Gibbs, John Madden, Mike McCarthy, George Seifert, Mike Shula and Tomlin. These are the coaches who won 100 games in their first 10 seasons. Only the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots have better records than the Steelers since 2007, during which time Pittsburgh doesn't have a losing season. At 103-57, Tomlin's .644 win percentage betters predecessors Bill Cowher (.623) and Chuck Noll (.566) in their Steelers tenures.
Pass-coverage problems: Recent pass-defense struggles are considered a blemish on Tomlin's résumé. That the Steelers haven't produced a Pro Bowl cornerback during Tomlin's tenure is curious, though now-retired Ike Taylor was considered a quality cornerback. Maybe Artie Burns or Joe Haden will be the first.
Boldness: Without it, you don't call a Wildcat run from the 1-yard line on the final play of a road game while down three points -- and see it actually work.
Gambles (good and bad): See above, when it goes wrong. Tomlin firing Bruce Arians in favor of Todd Haley caused short-term discomfort for the offense, but long-term gains.
Good sound bites: In a news-conference setting, Tomlin can come across as stern and won't entertain hyperbole. But he's big in big moments. His Terry Bradshaw-Hollywood Henderson line was gold, and he came down hard on Antonio Brown after the Facebook Live incident.
Players' coach: Veteran corner Will Gay has been with Tomlin for nine seasons, and though he won't reveal in-house secrets, he says Tomlin's interaction with players sets him apart. "He was always smart, but the evolution of him relating to players is unbelievable," Gay said. "The way he knows his players and cares for his players. He has led by example, and he does that day in and day out."
Hitting: For better or worse, the Steelers will have physical training camps. Some players privately believe this results in early-to-midseason lulls on occasion, but the Steelers usually finish strongly as a result. Can't play physically without practicing physically.
No excuses: Tomlin has never blamed injuries for struggles on the field and always takes blame after losses. That resonates with a locker room.
Not close enough: Tomlin talks openly about chasing the franchise's seventh Super Bowl victory, and with the Steelers' most recent title-game appearance coming after the 2010 season, a large part of Tomlin's legacy will be defined by whether he gets back there.