As we now know, the Steelers defeated the Browns to finish 8-8, yet NFL officiating errors prevented a playoff run that BTSC was set to call the "Steelers Zombie Apocalypse." The Pittsburgh Steelers face a lot of difficult decisions this off season, but before that, BTSC looks back and asks Steelers Nation to answer 5 Burning Questions on 2013.
1. In the final pre-season issue of Steelers Digest, Bob Labriola used the term "working without a safety net" twice to describe the Steelers offensive line depth. Of course 8 plays into the season, disaster struck and Maurkice Pouncey was lost. Yet, Steelers were able to stabilize their line with in-season replacements and found themselves in the playoff hunt until late in the afternoon on week 17.
Does the Steelers 2013 experience on offensive line tell you that offensive line depth is "Must Have" or simply a "Nice to Have?"
2. Season end awards saw Antonio Brown take the team MVP while Le'Veon Bell was named the Joe Greene rookie of the year. Neither choice was a surprise, yet it does suggest and interesting comparison. Here are the award winners since the Steelers began issuing both in 1984:
|Year||Team MVP||Rookie of the Year|
|1984||John Stallworth (WR)||(1) Louis Lipps (WR)|
|1985||(1) Louis Lipps (WR)||Harry Newsome (P)|
|1986||Brian Hinkle (LB)||Anthony Henton (LB)|
|1987||Mike Merriweather (LB)||Delton Hall (CB)|
|1988||David Little (LB); Rod Woodson (CB)||Warren Williams (RB)|
|1989||(1) Louis Lipps (WR)||Carnell Lake (S)|
|1990||Rod Woodson (CB)||Eric Green (TE)|
|1991||Greg Lloyd (LB)||Adrian Cooper (TE)|
|1992||Barry Foster (RB)||Darren Perry (S)|
|1993||Rod Woodson (CB)||Chad Brown (LB)|
|1994||Greg Lloyd (LB)||Bam Morris (RB)|
|1995||Neil O'Donnell (QB)||(2) Kordell Stewart (Slash)|
|1996||Jerome Bettis (RB)||Jon Witman (FB)|
|1997||Jerome Bettis (RB)||Chad Scott (CB)|
|1998||Levon Kirkland (LB)||Alan Faneca (G)|
|1999||Levon Kirkland (LB)||Troy Edwards (WR)|
|2000||Jerome Bettis (RB)||Dan Kreider (FB)|
|2001||(2) Kordell Stewart (QB)||Kendrell Bell (LB)|
|2002||Joey Porter (LB); Hines Ward (WR)||Kendall Simmons (G)|
|2003||Hines Ward (WR)||(3) Troy Polamalu (S)|
|2004||James Farrior (LB)||(4) Ben Roethlisberger (QB)|
|2005||Casey Hampton (NT), Hines Ward (WR)||(5) Heath Miller (TE)|
|2006||Willie Parker (RB)||Santonio Holmes (WR)|
|2007||James Harrison (LB)||Daniel Sepulveda (P)|
|2008||James Harrison (LB)||Patrick Bailey (LB)|
|2009||(4) Ben Roethlisberger (QB)||Mike Wallace (WR)|
|2010||(3) Troy Polamalu (S)||Maurkice Pouncey (C)|
|2011||Antonio Brown (WR)||Marcus Gilbert (OT)|
|2012||(5) Heath Miller (TE)||Mike Adams (OT)|
|2013||Antonio Brown (WR)||Le'Veon Bell (RB)|
Seeing the two lists side-by-side raises and obvious question. Why is it that only five players (numbered above) who won the rookie of the year award later when on to win the team MVP award? What does this say about the nuances of player development?
3. One of the biggest decisions the Steelers faced in 2013 was whether to honor the New England Patriots 1 year restricted free agency offer to Emmanuel Sanders. Faced with a similar choice in 1993, the Steelers opted to make the opposite decision and keep Sanders.
Now, with the beauty and benefit of 20/20 hindsight, do you think the Steelers could have taken someone with that 91st pick that would have pushed 8-8 to 9-7. Here's a link to the 2013 draft results for your reference.
4. You are Kevin Colbert. You get one 2013 personnel decision "do over." What is your choice?
5. Todd Haley became a lighting rod during the Steelers 0-4 start and even as recently as the Miami game Roethlisberger was forced to say that perceived criticism of his offensive coordinator came from quotes "taken out of context." Yet the offense was markedly improved late in the season, and Roethlisberger claim's he's comfortable with Haley...
...Of course in 2012 Roethlisberger and Haley proclaimed their love for one another, only to be outed by Bob Labriola at season's end.
Whose story are you buying this year?
There you go folks. Have at it for our final installment of the 5 Burning Questions for the 2013 Season.
We'll do additional 5 Burnings during the off season as often as they can be made relevant. In closing out 2013, however, I'd like to once again thank everyone who took time to answer questions this year, as coming up with compelling questions was a much bigger challenge in 2013 than in previous seasons, so my appreciation is heart felt. Thanks to all!