FanPost

Three Year Cycle: A Common Theme in the Colbert Era, the Blessing and Curse


In the comments section of another fan post the idea that the current 2012 Steelers could be in another drought before the beginning of a new dominant era. I decided to take this idea, use my rare gift of a little free time this Monday and run with it. The first thing I found was a trend in the year by year success of the Steelers during the Kevin Colbert era. What I found may not be a good sign for what is to come this season but could be blessing for the play of the Steelers for year to come.

Kevin Colbert took over as the Director of Player Personnel/ General Manager of the Steelers in 2000. The Steelers have been one of the most successful franchises since then. The following is the win-loss record of the Steelers since then;

Steelers Win/Loss, Division Standings and Postseason Results since 2000

Year

Division

Division

Rank

Wins

Losses

Ties

Win Pct.

Postseason Results

2000

Central

3rd

9

7

0

.563

Did not reach the playoffs

2001

Central

1st

13

3

0

.813

Won Divisional Playoffs (Ravens) 27-10
Lost Conference Championship (Patriots) 24-17

2002

North

1st

10

5

1

.656

Won Wild Card Playoffs (Browns) 36-33
Lost Divisional Playoffs (Titans) 34-31

2003

North

3rd

6

10

0

.375

Did not reach the playoffs

2004

North

1st

15

1

0

.938

Won Divisional Playoffs (Jets) 20-17
Lost Conference Championship (Patriots) 41-27

2005

North

2nd

11

5

0

.688

Won Wild Card Playoffs (Bengals) 31-17
Won Divisional Playoffs (Colts) 21-18
Won Conference Championship (Broncos) 34-17
Won Super Bowl XL (Seahawks) 21-10

2006

North

3rd

8

8

0

.500

Did not reach the playoffs

2007

North

1st

10

6

0

.625

Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Jaguars) 31-29

2008

North

1st

12

4

0

.750

Won Divisional Playoffs (Chargers) 35-24
Won Conference Championship (Ravens) 23-14
Won Super Bowl XLIII(6) (Cardinals) 27-23

2009

North

3rd

9

7

0

.563

Did not reach the playoffs

2010

North

1st

12

4

0

.750

Won Divisional Playoffs (Ravens) 31-24
Won Conference Championship (Jets) 24-19
Lost Super Bowl XLV (Packers) 31-25

2011

North

2nd

12

4

0

.750

Lost Wild Card Playoffs (Broncos) 29-23 (OT)

The first thing I notice when I looked at this win loss record is that the their seems to be a trend to the Steelers success. Following two straight years of making the playoffs, the third year the Steelers did not make the playoffs. These poor third years included; 2003, 2006, 2009. The current year 2012 would fall under this third year trend after two straight years of making the playoffs. Not a good sign. However I want to point out another trend, in the four different years that follow one of these poor years the average win-loss record is 12.5 wins and 3.5 losses. It seems to defy common perception that a team can go from 8-8 to 13 years in a single off-season. I decided look into this phenomena by looking at the 2001, 2004, 2007, and 2010 drafts where the Steelers would have had a higher draft pick due to a poor prior year.

Steelers 2001 Draft-

1st Round Pick 18th pick - Casey Hampton , DT Texas- The Steelers who originally had the 16th pick traded two spots down with the Jets and draft a player who in the next decade would become what would be considered the prototype of an 3-4 NT. Despite his poor play now Hampton is easily the most decorated player picked in the bottom half of the 1st round in 2001.

Other Notable Picks-

2nd round- Kendrick Bell- The Steelers traded their 2nd round pick and a fourth to New England to get pick number 39 and draft Bell. Bell was a stud 2001 Rookie of the Year, 2nd team All Pro as a Rookie and Pro Bowl. Sadly a knee injury limited him to 5 years (missing all of 2004 his final year) with the Steelers before his release. (Another reason why the current James Harrison situation worries me)

Steelers 2004 Draft-

1st Round 11th Pick- Ben Roethlisberger, QB Miami Ohio- Roethlisberger cam in as a rookie and took a 6-10 team to 15-1 and since then has won 2 Super Bowls and took the team to another. He is easily one of the main reason for the Steelers continued success.

Other Notable Picks-

3rd Round, 75th Pick- Max Starks, OT Florida- Love him or hate him Max Starks has been an average starter on this O-line for a while. He has be released and resigned but his play has remained the same. Not bad for a third round pick.

UDFA- Willie Parker, RB UNC- Willie Parker had a good run here and for an undrafted free agent that is impressive.

Steelers 2007 Draft-

1st Round, 15th Pick- Lawrence Timmons ILB, Florida State- Lawrence Timmons has been one of the main members of a LB group that for at least three year may have been the best in the league. He has some major talent, and athleticism. He will be a big part of the veteran presence as the Steelers get younger.

Other Notable Picks-

2nd Round 46th Pick- LaMarr Woodley, OLB Michigan- Woodley has been easily one of the best pick the Steelers have made in the Kevin Colbert era. He is considered in the top 10 of 3-4 OLBs and has been a big contributor to two Super Bowl runs. While I still question his slow starts and want to attribute them to poor off-season workout routine, it can't be argued Woodley is dominant when on his game.

Steelers 2010 NFL Draft-

1st Round 16th Pick- Maurkice Pouncey, C Florida- While I believe he is a bit hyped, there is now questioning the impact Maurkice Pouncey has had on the Steelers line. He has been an All-Pro each year of his career despite dealing with major injuries to his ankle. Pouncey still has room to grow but the health seems to be his only limit.

Other Notable Picks-

3rd Round,82nd Pick - Emmanuel Sanders, Wr Souther Methodist- Sanders had been injured early in his careered but showed some potential. It is early on this season and he is competing for targets but so far Sanders has shown glimpses of his talent. He helps make up what I believe is the deepest WR corps. in the NFL.

6th Round, 195th Pick- Antonio Brown, WR Central Michigan- With the pick the Steelers recived from trading Santonio Holmes they drafted an unheard of WR in the sixth round. Early on in the preseason of his rookie year Brown showed he had a play making ability. In the post seaosn his rookie year he exemplified that. His sophomore year he made the Pro Bowl and was sign to an extension. He is easily the most consistent and most determined player in the "Young Money Crew".

Summary-

Of the four drafts the Steelers picks have 4 All- Pro selections and 5 Pro Bowls. What does this mean for the 2012 season? Well it could mean nothing as each year is independent of the last but, so far I am seeing very similar comparisons to the 2009 season. Ben had a career year in 2009 (on pace for a new career high in 2012). The Defense showed consistent inability to close out teams which so far is the trend this year. Key players on the defense were injured and missed significant time then and it appears to be the case now. In ability to create turnovers haunted the 2009 defense as it has this team so far. I hate being a downer but these similarities and the trend mentioned above have me worried. Right now I see a 9-7 or 8-8 team unless they can get healthy and correct some mistakes. On the other hand this could mean a higher draft pick. The draft appears to have some early talent the Steelers can use to rebuild their defense. These are guys like LBs Barkevious Mingo and Jarvis Jones, DE/OLB conversion guys like Bjoern Werner and Alex Okafor, potential 3-4 NT John Jenkins, potential 3-4 DE Kwann Short, playmaking ILB Manti Teo, saftey Eric Reid, and a playmaking CB David Amerson. Anyone of these guys the Steelers could use to reload on defense. After drafting in the down year in the following two years the Steelers made the playoff two years straight each time and made it two at least to the AGC Championship in one of two years every time. This team next year appears to be ready for 2013 with player coming back healthy potentially and a young potent offense entering its second year in Todd Haley's scheme.

This was not intended to be a surrender of this season, and I have not lost faith in this team as you shouldn't. This is merely a word of caution and maybe some words of hope for the 2013 season.

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