Post-Cleveland thoughts Part II
We saw the end of an era Sunday at Heinz Field.
Brett Keisel and Ryan Clark might have both played their final games for the Steelers. Larry Foote might have played his final game in the opener.
If that is the case - and I'm going to say Keisel is 50-50 to come back one more year while Clark is likely gone after saying he's not willing to play here for the minimum - that will leave only Ben Roethlisberger, Heath Miller, Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor as players who have won a pair of Super Bowls with the Steelers.
Foote could be back. He is, after all, under contract at a cap-friendly cost of just $1.1 million, but you get the idea. The Steelers' makeover is just about done.
@ A lot of the focus from Sunday's San Diego-Kansas City game is on the missed field goal at the end of regulation. And apparently, it should be.
Not only did Kansas City's Ryan Succop miss the 41-yard field goal attempt the end of regulation, but apparently Bill Leavy's officiating crew missed the fact that the Chargers were in an illegal formation.
NFL rules state on field goal and extra point attempts that you cannot have more than six players on one side at the line of scrimmage, basically preventing an overload.
The Chargers had eight players on the line, but only one was to the right of ball. The other seven were all on the left side, a clear rule violation. A flag should have been thrown and Kansas City should have been moved five yards closer.
Leavy's crew also apparently, at least according to former head of officiating Mike Pereira, were too quick to the whistle in overtime when San Diego's Eric Weddle was stripped of the football on a fake punt run.
@ But hey, all of that is water over the bridge, as former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher once famously said, mixing his metaphors.
Had the Steelers won one more game - most importantly against Miami a few weeks ago, they wouldn't have needed any help to get into the playoffs.
Or won at Baltimore.
That 0-4 start completely killed the Steelers' margin of error.
@ That said, Pittsburgh finished the season 8-4 after its 0-4 start. The Steelers were also 8-5 with rookie running back Le'Veon Bell in the lineup this season.
Bell only got better as the season went on. He'll rush for 1,400 yards in 2014 if he can stay healthy.
Had he not missed the first three games this season, Bell would have finished with about 1,100 yards this season.
@ The Steelers' offseason priority is signing Jason Worilds to a new contract.
They'll also be looking for a veteran in the secondary. And it might not necessarily be at free safety.
William Gay could shift to free safety, meaning a corner could be added. Ike Taylor also said Sunday that he spoke to the coaching staff about moving to safety at some point.
I don't see that happening, though. Once the team took the responsibility of facing the opposing team's best receiver all over the field off of Taylor, he played solid down the stretch.
Plus, Taylor doesn't have great ball skills - as he points out himself - and the Steelers really need someone back there who can take the ball away.
Certainly it's different playing safety, where you're facing the quarterback most of the time as opposed to playing with your back to the ball, but the Steelers need a free safety who can pick at least four passes.
@ Kudos to Emmanuel Sanders for finding a way to get back on the field in this game. He's been ripped a lot by fans, but 67 catches for 740 yards and six scores isn't bad out of your No. 2 receiver.
And had he not suited up in this game, after Jerricho Cotchery went down with a rib injury, the Steelers would have been down to Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton and Derek Moye at wide receiver.
They could have activated Justin Brown off the practice squad, but that would have meant cutting somebody else.
@ If you're looking for a silver lining, try this: The Steelers actually finished ahead of Baltimore in the division standings. But thanks to the NFL's draft rules, the Steelers have the 15th pick in the draft, while Baltimore will have to flip a coin to see who picks 16th.
And Baltimore didn't make the playoffs, either. The Joe Flacco-John Harbaugh playoff myth is over.
@ Cam Heyward played the second half of this season like a young Aaron Smith. His bull rush - watch him shove Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas into Jason Campbell on his sack while also drawing a holding penalty on Thomas in the fourth quarter - is as powerful as any I've seen.
@ The Steelers allowed seven sacks in their final seven games this season. Remember that in the offseason when you're reading from draft pundits and national media types that the Steelers are going to take an offensive linemen in the first round.
This is as much a product of Ben finally accepting the new offense under Haley and taking the short throws when they make sense. Roethlisberger's game, and Roethlisberger himself reached another level of maturation this season, likely extending his career a year or two.
Originally Posted by TD386Steel