Change is, sometimes, the hardest thing to do or accept. Especially when the norm has been so comforting. People seldom like change because they fear the unknown. Change could mean a turn for the worse. But then again those who refuse to change can be left in the past. As the Steelers enter the 2012 season there is one thing certain, changes will be made for the better or for the worse.
When Adam Schefter reported that the Steelers would be approximately 25 million dollars over the 2012 salary cap if no changes were made I was shocked. Omar Kahn and Kevin Colbert always do a great job of working contracts and spending the right money on players, free agents, and draftees that we seldom have cap issues that aren't easily worked out. In the 2010 season, the last year of the former C.B.A., the Steelers announced that they would treat the year just like it was a capped year even though there was no salary cap for that year. I rested assured that the Steelers would be doing the prudent thing and not spending so much money where they would be in cap crisis the following year. But here we are 25 million dollars over. Obviously Mr. Kahn and Mr. Colbert thought that the salary cap would be increasing the way it normally does. They were wrong. The cap was reduced back to 2009 level, I believe. This was done, in my opinion, to help the smaller market teams gain more money. There should be no financial reason why the cap is as low as it is. There isn't less money coming in for the NFL, so why the cap be lowered? A favor to the Buffalo Bills of the world is the only explanation I could come up with.
We all expect the cap to jump in 2014. While the timing of this jump does seem to favor the Steelers I contest that it does. We have a number of older player on the roster, one of the older ones in the league. The cap situation forces Tomlin, Kahn, and Colbert to make some tough choices on who to keep this year. It will be very sad to see some veterans not in the black and gold this season. But it will be necessary for the Steelers to do in order to keep having shots at the Super Bowl and not turn into the Indianapolis Colts this year. The most remarkable thing about the Steelers is that their worst record in the last 20 years has been 6-10 and they only had one other losing season at 7-9. That kind of consistency is the best in the league. The way the Steelers have kept that consistency has been knowing when to let players go at the end of their career. The Steelers have done a great job in the past of getting the best out of players then knowing when to let them walk or watch them retire a Steeler. When you aren't winning Super Bowls this may be easier to do. But since the Steelers two Super Bowl Championships in 2005 and 2008 and another trip in 2010, I believe we have let the success cloud our judgment. We have held on to a couple of players a tad bit longer than, I believe, we normally would. It only makes sense since those players were integral in us securing one for the thumb and the one for the other thumb. But now with the cap issues we will be forced to cut the cord to the past. I believe it will make us better as Colbert gets to comb the draft for talent to fill those positions and Kahn gets to work contracts with an actual salary cap. It will be tough and many fond memories will be revisited but it is a necessary exercise to ensure the future of the Steelers. As long as we have Ben as our QB we will have a shot of wining a Super Bowl, we have to make these years count. We will work out the cap, how - that remains to be seen. But the Steelers have a great opportunity to make their team better, it will be a challenge but most opportunities are.
The other change that will be seen is at the offensive coordinator position. The next offensive coordinator will most likely try to make the run game more effective. But will they be able to keep the offense the way it is between the 20s and improve the offense in the redzone? I'm not sure. I do believe however that the influx of new players will go hand in hand with the success of both coordinators positions. A coach is only as good as his players. The coaches that can make their players better are in the hall of fame. We'll see how the pieces fall together, I am a glass half full kind of guy for the most part. But I do believe that this change, this challenge, is a blessing in disguise.
The Steelers always seem to play their best when there are question marks about them. When they aren't the favorites. This influx of new players and a new coach will raise many questions. Many fans of our rivals across the AFC north are already predicting the Steelers to be the bottom dwellers of the division for the next couple of years. I believe the team will rise to the occasion an they will be in for a rude awakening, the Steelers aren't going anywhere - anytime soon.