The Steelers gave it their all against arguably the best team in football in their house, and it sure was one for the ages. Yet, the Steelers ended this game much like they did in other games — by shooting themselves in the foot. I have come to the conclusion this team is its own worst enemy, and that means, while the potential is easily a Super Bowl contender, they certainly are not on that level due to this issue. The team lacks attention to detail, which is fixable, and they clearly need help in other areas. Yet, you do have to feel comfortable with the fact that the Steelers can win the Super Bowl as soon as February because of the talent. I will say this, the Steelers have a more open window than you would think.
Thus, here are my seven takeaways:
Antonio Brown is the best WR in the NFL
This dude is insane. Antonio Brown and Ben Roethlisberger are still the best QB-WR combination in the NFL, and AB just keeps showing how unreal he is. Brown was open all day because of how quick he was, and made some crazy catches this year. This game was no different. From the outstanding almost one-handed grab, to the amazing sideline work he had Sunday, AB is still AB, and that connection will be the basis for high powered Steelers offenses of the future, no doubt about it.
JuJu, Ben, AB, OL are why you should be fine with the future of this team if they ever get a competent DC and more talent. AB is also not washed. Ben and AB had a great game. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/oUzIYRVSjf— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) December 24, 2018
Mike Tomlin should not be fired...but he needs help
I know some people love this aggressiveness, but not 4th & 5 from your own side of the field. And if you really wanted to go for it there, I would have just trotted the offense out there anyways. It is ridiculous this is the play that we put our faith into honestly.
Tomlin’s follies are all attention to detail mistakes. From not getting the analytics down there to his challenges, it is clear Tomlin needs some advisers. I would absolutely hire an analytics guy to keep Tomlin clued in on things, and in addition to that, some guy that watches the challenges and gives the information to Tomlin of if he should challenge it or not. People may not realize it, that even though Tomlin certainly has his bad coaching days, he is still a good coach. I want to stick it out with him, I have decided...as for the other changes...
Fire Keith Butler and give Tomlin the reins to the defense
Schematically, since the Oakland debacle, the Steelers have been somehow better schematically. They had a gorgeous game plan against the Patriots, and I was a fan of the one they employed against the Saints, but the lack of talent in the secondary and in the middle really reared its ugly head. The commonalities?
Mike Tomlin clearly had a lot of say in it all. The Steelers have been disguising their coverages, using the zone blitzes, running Tampa 2, and even using some 4-3 looks as of late. Also, one of my favorites, bracket coverage, double coverage, and more aggressive man coverage. Butler’s scheme is much more of a 3-4 cover 2 and 3 based scheme, but we have seen the drastic improvement schematically under Tomlin-based concepts. He is more comfortable game planning in his own concepts, and with an uptick in talent, I want to see how far this can go.
So, for all that is good, bring in a new DC that aligns with Tomlin, and watch magic happen. Tomlin really isn’t a bad defensive game planner, guys.
ILB is really the biggest need on this team
Yeah, CB is pretty bad, but is there actually one super good ILB on the team? Nah. L.J. Fort is decent and the best one on the team, but really he isn’t a number one ILB on a team, but he would make a great complement to an athletic alpha male ILB that is just a bit better than him. Guaranteed, the ILB class in the draft is super weak. I only see one round one worthy ILB, but if Avery Williamson is out there in FA, please go get him. He is underrated player who can cover the middle of the field well. Colbert, time to get the splash that he is.
This team isn’t really that far from a Super Bowl
Is this year a representation of what the Steelers will be for the next few years, or just a fluky year that provokes change? It should be the latter. I have never seen a team with so many bad breaks, officiating gone against them, and yet such disappointment in how they choke games away, but regardless, this team really is just a few good pieces on defense and a new defensive coordinator away from a Super Bowl. I really am excited for next year, as long as Butler is gone, of course.
The Steelers have shot themselves in the foot so many times, somehow, and they did have a tough schedule this year, good news is next year’s schedule is likely much easier. And with a new injection of talent on defense with a load of cap space, it is very possible this team ascends to new heights as long as the correct changes are made.
Sean Davis and T.J. Watt are great young building blocks to have
Hate on Sean Davis as much as you want, this guy has virtually had to play both single-high and the box because Terrell Edmunds has been virtually lost all year. Davis has been extremely solid this year but it has been stained by some really unfortunate plays. He is a piece of the future, without a doubt. I like Davis a lot and think he will be one of the starting two safeties next year.
As for Watt, I shouldn’t have to say much other than he has progressed so well. His hands are complete, and his bend is showing itself in droves now. This guy is so close to being truly elite, and next year, he should be able to make that leap. We got a good one folks.
As long as Big Ben is around, the Steelers can go anywhere
This really doesn’t need any more explanation other than the Steelers just took the best team in the NFL to the brink and it was because of their QB. With him here next year, and the possible changes that can be made, watch out for this team next year. Ben still has it and he is slinging it to his guys, and as long as he is here, the super bowl is always within reach.