Radio host Mark Madden recently aired his grievances in what appeared to be a Festivus for the rest of Steeler Nation.
In his weekly column in the Beaver County Times, Madden, for lack of a better term, torched the Steelers leadership and direction, questioning the ability of head coach Mike Tomlin, calling out the strategies of coordinators Todd Haley and Dick LeBeau and generally referring to the franchise as "outdated."
It's hard to accept the broadly general opinion he's making, even if it is entertaining.
The crux of the piece is centered around the idea that the Steelers were previously a "destination franchise," suggesting the departed players and coaches stand as a testament to that.
It seems hard to fathom the decision to not pay a wide receiver as much as they pay quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can suggest the team is in the wrong. It's also hard, as controversial as this opinion is, to believe the decision to let Keenan Lewis walk had nothing to do with the fact they had a better player at 10 percent of the price waiting behind him and fully capable of starting for two years on the cheap.
He also points to supposed evidence that the departures of Scottie Montgomery and Sean Kugler are somehow indicative of a sinking ship. No doubt, the coaches of the two most disappointing position units on the team over the last two years waded through dozens - if not hundreds - of other offers before deciding on the long-term stability and legendary track records of Duke and UTEP.
There is plenty about which to criticize the Steelers right now. The defections, as he refers to them, aren't major issues. General manager Kevin Colbert said it this offseason, the players and coaches leaving are part of an 8-8 team. How important were they?
The overwhelming majority of BTSC readers voted in favor of letting Emmanuel Sanders walk in restricted free agency. The Steelers will gain a third-round pick this year, as opposed to the likely sixth round pick they'll get in compensation in the 2015 Draft when he felt he could leave for greener pastures. Mike Wallace's departure will likely gain a third round pick in 2014. So the Steelers traded in a few plays, lots of injuries, multiple fumbles and far more talk than action for the chance to draft two top 120 players and pay them 10 percent to potentially play more vital roles in the team's success.
Why is gaining a pick this year for Sanders, and picks next year for Wallace and Lewis a bad thing?
Antonio Brown's recent comments regarding Sanders' decision to not go about his contract situation "the Steelers way" is indicative of the general direction the team is going. They signed Brown because of his tireless work ethic. He has the chance to step up and be a leader this season. Plenty of groups in any dynamic will get stronger with lesser talented but more determined people in place.
It's addition by subtraction. And while I'm sure the Steelers are happy to apologize to Madden for not crafting the best fantasy football team available, it's silly to suggest it's not a destination team (as if it matters), considering the amount of former players who sign as quickly as they can after leaving for those greener pastures.
As for the shot he's taking at head coach Mike Tomlin, he was voted the coach players most wanted to play for as recently as last year. So now, because two coaches with very minor at best track records for success leave for lesser jobs (forced out, perhaps?) allegedly have a problem with their boss, Haley, the team is falling apart?
At the very least he could have brought up the departure of Al Everest in an odd fashion at the beginning of the year.
Madden may have the shock-inspired bluntness piece of the news down, but the moves the team is making is to correct the poor decision to load up Roethlisberger with weapons back in 2009-10. We have no reason to think Antonio Brown can't put up similar numbers to Santonio Holmes in 2008. And who was Roethlisberger's other "big play" receiver that year? Freakin' Nate Washington. People barely remember his name anymore.
The team needs to rebuild. No one is disputing that. The mysticism of "The Steelers Way" isn't going to win them games. But what games were they winning with the skill position players and the coaches they had?
Please point out to the games won solely by the efforts of Montgomery and Kugler, then we can talk about reasons to be concerned about their departures.