The Steelers’ season is finished, even with their win at home against the Bengals. That game was not pretty, and the Steelers needed help to get in, and they did not get the help necessary to extend their season. However, they should have never been in that position. The Steelers suffered criminally from underachieving, and the blame can go around to a myriad of places.
Regardless, whoever you blame, the Steelers will be watching the playoffs from their couches, and with a team that talented, it is inexcusable. Thus, here are my ten takeaways from this season:
Keith Butler and Danny Smith should be gone tomorrow
You guys already know my thoughts on Butler, and I really don’t need to state it again, but for all intents and purposes, he should be relieved of his duties immediately. He is a terrible Defensive Coordinator and one of the worst coordinators in the NFL. He does not understand how to scheme, how to situationally play call, and how to use his packages correctly. If this team wants to be successful, he should be fired.
As for Smith, yes, he can dial up good punt protections among other things, but there is no reason for him to be back with how many special teams penalties there have been this year. Also, for goodness sakes, can Ryan Switzer ever see an open lane to run through? That would be real nice. Smith should be shown the door immediately.
If Mike Tomlin is fired, I won’t hold a vigil
Yeah, I think he is a good coach. Yeah, I would like to see him get one more chance due to a large amount of suitors in the market this season as well as the fact that I think there are other factors holding him back. But, if Art Rooney decides to call it time to move on, I have no objection.
Playing down to opponents consistently and somehow faltering into the biggest stages are Tomlin hallmarks. His teams are somehow undisciplined to the bone and it is harder to not point to him as a reason for how badly they are underachieving. Tomlin is indeed a good coach, but his time might just have worn out.
The future is still bright
It is easy to get caught up in the doom and gloom of the current situation the Steelers are in, but there are bright pieces here that can be used for the future. Ben Roethlisberger might be back for the next 2-3 years, James Conner and Jaylen Samuels look like a great duo, the OL has heirs at almost every position and the core is still there. Needless to say, Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster are the best duo of receivers for the foreseeable future, T.J. Watt is a monster, and the DL is great.
There is talent here and there will be talent for years to come on this team, the real question is if they can maximize it. It will start this offseason as they have to fix the secondary and LB corps.
Bring Eli Rogers back
This one will go underrated, but ever since he has come off of IR, Eli Rogers has been a big contributor the Steelers’ offense. He is a better receiver than Ryan Switzer, and with the ability to move the chains and gain YAC, he is a valuable player to the offense.
I would lock him up to an extension and bring him back, because he sure has shown his worth the Steelers, and no less, he has proven he can be a weapon to add to an already dynamic passing attack.
Kevin Colbert has to be aggressive this offseason
The Steelers underachieved this year due to the lack of being aggressive in the offseason. They made no attempts to make a big move, and stayed far too complacent instead. Perhaps the fact that Morgan Burnett and Jon Bostic just are not it, but the Steelers have to go make a splash this time around. I would call for it to be at EDGE rusher where I would love it if they went out to get Dee Ford. Pairing Ford with T.J. Watt would perhaps be one of the most lethal duos in the NFL.
Of course, that might be tough to do, but Bud Dupree certainly does not cut it. They have to make a splash and make some solid signings. ILB in particular will not be easy to address. L.J. Fort is a keeper, but with a weak draft class, the Steelers will have to either trade up or go big in free agency. Regardless where they do it, Colbert will have to change up his philosophy to maximize this window.
The 2018 Draft Class has been disappointing
I don’t really know where to begin here. Terrell Edmunds has been what we thought he was. He is a raw safety who is not playing like a first round pick and he has shown that. He has not been particularly good this year, but hopefully he turns it around next year.
James Washington has been rough but he did come on late in the year, so it looks like that could certainly be a hit. He could be a valuable asset come next year, but more immediate production would have been nice.
Chukwuma Okorafor was great when he played, and Mason Rudolph had no impact at all, as he was the third stringer.
Jaylen Samuels proved to be a steal, and an excellent complement to James Conner. Marcus Allen was ‘meh’ when he played, and Joshua Frazier was so bad they released him in the preseason.
Overall, it could be a fantastic class in the future, but as for immediate impacts in the super bowl window, it was very disappointing.
Joe Haden is a stud
This one man held the defense together. Joe Haden was fantastic this season and should hopefully continue that very play next year. He was a legitimate No. 1 Cornerback this season and shut down many of the top receivers in the NFL. He continues to show that if the Steelers do have someone good across from him, this defense could be an absolute force.
CB2, ILB, and Safety are all needs, but the good thing is that CB1 is currently not a need at all because Haden is amazing.
Bud Dupree can not be a starter next year
That fifth year option tag is brutal guys. Dupree very well might be released and brought back at a cheaper price, which is honestly the correct move. Dupree is not a starter in this league. His inability to hold the edge on run plays and somehow get thwarted on every pass rushing attempt is absolutely astounding.
Dupree did get better, and would be a fantastic rotational guy and 3rd pass rusher, but as a starter, he is not what the Steelers need at all. I would love for them to go sign someone this year, or go draft someone in Round 1, because I simply do not believe in Bud Dupree at all.
No, they did not miss the playoffs because of Le’Veon Bell
We all know Bell adds a dimension to the offense the Steelers would have loved to have, but is he the reason they missed out on the playoffs? Not really. Conner and Samuels were more than fine this year, and if anything is more of the reason for why the offense is to blame, it would be costly turnovers by Ben Roethlisberger and weird fumbles that killed the Steelers at inopportune times. Bell is not the reason why, and not paying him was a good decision.
Coty Sensabaugh was an unsung hero
Let’s admit it, guys. Coty Sensabaugh might not be CB2 stuff, but he filled in very well when the Steelers had a massive void there. He should absolutely be brought back due to how well he has played once Burns went down the chute.
Maybe he isn’t great, and he sure doesn’t have very good ball skills, but as a solid backup? I will take him all day.