I thought I'd take a day to digest todays events and then put the season in perspective - but in reality, I think how this season unfolded was well predicted by many. The Steelers limped through the last 8 games of last year and we really saw no significant roster moves in the offseason. The draft was reasonable but nothing earth shattering. I think most of us had the steelers around 8-8, 9-7 at best.
The truth of the matter however is that those of us that predicted a mediocre season, were wrong. Yes, the steelers finished 8-8 - but those of us that thought that way didn't foresee our starting center and starting middle linebacker go down in quarter 1, week 1. We didn't see the plethora (and no, I don't have a plethora of pinatas) of O-line injuries and we didn't see just how unprepared the steelers were for those possibilities.
this mediocre season and failure to make the playoffs rests largely on the coaches and the front office.
yes, the players have to play - but seriously, our 0-4 start was due in large part to the juggling offensive line and the inability of the defense to get pressure, sacks and thus turnovers.
going into game 1 with beachem as your backup center where by all reports he had only a few days of reps in practice is insane. That cost us week 1.
bringing in an off the street replacement and continuing to juggle the o-line while they all try to learn this zone blocking scheme cost us the next 3.
sure, the team stayed together and the coaches did a nice job of patiently working to overcome the injuries - but going into the season with glaring holes behind the starting 22 is the ultimate culprit.
yes, we can point to oakland and miami and say we should have won those games.
but in the league of parity and where 9 wins maybe gets you in - our poor preparation essentially put the steelers in a 12 game season and no matter how good you are, it's extremely difficult to go 9-3. That's why when teams start 0-2 analysts are already saying how tough it will be to make the playoffs. you are going to lose games you should win, and win some you should lose - and it's critical to get wins early to take the pressure off in december.
so we finished the second half of the season 6-2. ok, that's nice. it's certainly better than how we finished last year.
the question is, is that the best this team can do? is this a team that's on the upswing or hanging on by it's fingernails?
certainly there will be no coaching changes. lebeau stays as long as he wants, and haley earned himself another year. Ben played the entire season, stayed healthy, set records and I think the offense is certainly in the top 15. The defense must be our focus. and of that defense it has to be the secondary that has the priority. the offense simply needs to get healthy and I strongly recommend every offensive lineman takes some snaps at center. the way we go through them, it's likely every one of them will have to sub in at some point in the middle. In fact, the steelers should invite about 10 more o-linemen to camp than they normally do. That we we can spend some time teaching them the offense so when they get that call in sept, oct, nov they'll at least know SOME of the playbook.
this is two seasons in a row of 8-8. I hope tomlin realizes there is a vast difference between missing the playoffs two years in a row and missing them THREE in a row.
I hope every coach and the front office has an ulcer over what could have been with this season if they had developed a reasonable and viable plan for injuries to pouncey and foote.
It was an interesting year and today was probably the most exciting football day we've had in quite awhile.
But we're done and I hate moral victories. I much prefer Lombardi's.
Kudo's to the players for making it interesting. Many of us hit october and thought it was over - yet they were in it until 7:45pm in week 17. That's the real crime of the season. As good as they played and as much as they turned it around - the season really WAS over on Oct 1. Teams don't start 0-4 and make the dance. We saw why today. The pre-season is where players learn the schemes and the playbook. pathetic that we had to use the first half of the season to develop and teach what should have already been taught. That's what frustrates me the most. I predicted 8-8 because I didn't think we had the talent to win more. The truth is that I was wrong. We DID have the talent. It's just that it got hurt and what we were missing was the DEPTH to overcome those injuries.
This is going to be a long off season.