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Right from the jump, you could tell that Mike Tomlin's season-ending press conference was going to be a special one. 

"In a little better mood today, man. Anybody got any contract questions?" Tomlin said with a smile as he stepped to the podium. 

That set the tone for what was possibly Tomlin's best press conference as Steelers coach. And it showed why he is still the right coach for Pittsburgh. 

Tomlin surely knew that his best was needed on Thursday. This was not a time to dive into cliches (I counted just one reference of painting with a broad brush) or offer one-word answers. No, Tomlin did the opposite. He was transparent, at times painfully so, like when he said that the thought of going to Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl instead of preparing for the divisional round of the playoffs "turns my stomach."

Tomlin wasn't afraid to show the scars that come with falling short of the goal he had for the 2023 Steelers. He made you understand and even feel his pain as another season ended without confetti. 

As you can see in the video, Tomlin was point-blank asked why he still feels like he is the right coach to lead the Steelers. While other coaches in his position could have scoffed at the question, Tomlin did the opposite. It was a good look for a coach who said he could have handled Monday's postgame press conference better when he exited while being asked about his contract. 

Tomlin, who did confirm that he plans to sign an extension with the Steeles this offseason, gave insightful answers to every question that was asked, including the Steelers' plans at quarterback (Kenny Pickett is expected to be the starter but will face competition), the offensive coordinator opening (he's seeking outside help there), his plans for Broderick Jones (he's open to Jones playing either tackle spot) and Najee Harris (Tomlin alluded to Pittsburgh likely picking up his fifth-year option), and whether or not his perception of Mason Rudolph changed over the season's last month ("Oh, certainly"), etc. 

More than that, Tomlin offered insight into his inner thoughts as he heads into what will be an interesting offseason. He said that he is excited to learn as he interviews offensive coordinator candidates. He wants someone who will make the Steelers' offense dynamic, and he's open to exploring whatever avenue he feels will best bring out the talents of Pittsburgh's players on that side of the ball. 

Speaking of the offense, Tomlin basically gave everyone a seat into his meeting earlier in the day with Pickett. Tomlin shared that they discussed how this is a "huge" year for Pickett, who is surely hoping to prove once and for all that he is the longterm answer at quarterback. 

As far as Tomlin is concerned, he brushed aside any notion that he could have used a year off to recharge his batteries. If anything, Tomlin said he works with more of an urgency now than he did in 2007, when he was 34 years old and just starting this journey. 

Tomlin offered an incredibly honest answer when he was asked if there is an urgency to win a Super Bowl next year given that 34-year-old Cam Heyward, the longest-tenured Steeler by four season, is running out of time. 

"I think I always move in that urgency," Tomlin said. "You know, I think you can point to guys like that annually that are deserving of being champions and you want them to have that taste. It's probably one of my biggest regrets professionally is that Maurkice Pouncey, for example is not a world champion because that guy is. And so, that is a motivating factor for me certainly, but continually it is." 

Another notable moment was when Tomlin was asked to clarify what his goals are for the Steelers. Some on the outside may think that Tomlin is content piling up non-winning seasons. That is not the case, not by a long shot. 

"We want to be world champions," Tomlin said. "Every year, we build with that intention." 

To me, the most telling part of Thursday's presser was Tomlin's answer when asked about comments recently made from players who have said that changes should be made regarding in-house rules. When asked a similar question in a recent presser, Tomlin deflected, stating that the player who made the comments (Najee Harris) was likely just responding to a question that was shaped in a certain way to trigger such a response. 

Tomlin changed course Thursday. 

"You know, one man's perspective is just one man's perspective, but I meet with everyone and somewhere in there lies reality," Tomlin said. "And I'm always open to changing and doing what's necessary in an effort to move this collective forward, in an effort to be world champs next year, certainly."

I'm sure there are naysayers out there who won't put any stock into what Tomlin said Thursday. For those fans, their minds are probably made up on Tomlin who, for all his success, has not won a playoff game since 2016. Those fans probably didn't celebrate the news of Art Rooney II telling the Post-Gazette Thursday that he plans to extend Tomlin's contract. 

But for me, Tomlin's presser said a lot about him and what his next chapter with the Steelers may look like. More openness to adapt, to listen, to change, while still holding onto the core principles that has made him the future Hall of Fame coach, appears to be Tomlin's game plan moving forward. 

Whether or not this will all lead to another Super Bowl is anyone's guess. But one thing we can expect is Tomlin's best work moving forward. That alone is enough of a reason to convince me Tomlin is still the best coach to lead the Steelers, for 2024 and beyond.