This year's version of the Pittsburgh Steelers is a hot mess — from the highest level of the franchise on down. Yes I’m holding the Rooneys accountable for their part in this circus we’ve had the displeasure to witness through two weeks of the season. Notice I didn't use the word “team” because this group of individuals doesn't resemble a team in any way, form or function. An organization which prides itself for cultivating a family atmosphere around the facilities and locker room can only be described as a dysfunctional family at the moment. This current dilemma falls squarely at the feet of the owners, specifically Art Rooney Jr.
Leadership has to start at the top, as per the old saying “the buck stops here.” Somebody has to be held accountable when the franchise is struggling with the same issues it did the previous season. Everybody has to answer to somebody, but who does the commander and chief answer to? I believe it must be to the fans, because without the fans, you have no business.
Make no mistake about it, I’m not suggesting the Rooney family should start jumping through hoops every time a small segment of the fan base starts whining about something. But when the majority of your fan base screams in unison concerning troubling issues playing out right in front of their faces — both on and off of the field, on what seems like a daily basis — then it might be time to take notice.
When the actions of certain players, and the inaction of the coaching staff, have turned the most successful franchise in league history into a running joke, it’s beyond time to get involved.
I’ve proudly been a member of Steelers Nation for as long as I can remember. My loyalty came from the belief that the Steelers’ organization represented the core values of the community, devoted fans, and the Rooney family itself. They valued their integrity and acted accordingly.
The legendary instances of this integrity are multiple — like the Rocky Bleier story, to mention only one — but I believe one instance that occurred not too long ago really stands out.
The Steelers went decades searching for a franchise QB and finally found one in Ben Roethlisberger. He enjoyed instant success and quickly led them to three Super Bowls, winning two. But somewhere along the way, the young man lost his way and diverged from the Steelers’ core values. And guess what? The Steelers were fully prepared to move forward without Ben, even though he was never convicted of a crime. They were openly shopping him on draft night. I was both worried and somehow proud at the same time to be a Steelers fan. Proud not only because they wanted to win, but they also wanted to win the right way. Character matters, and they were going to demand it from their players. Ben has certainly turned his life around since those dark days, becoming a family man of faith. I’m convinced the tough love displayed by the Rooneys played a large role in that turnaround.
Now the Steelers find themselves at another crossroads, and it might be time for more tough love. The Rooneys need to step up to the plate and make a plethora of difficult decisions necessary to rectify the present situation.
For starters, this team (if you want to call it that) is totally undisciplined and chronically unprepared. That would seem to fall under the responsibilities of the head coach, and if he’s unwilling, or incapable, of dispensing the discipline and leadership required to steady the proverbial ship, then ownership needs to step in.
Honestly, the team may not be as talented, especially on the defensive side of the ball, as many thought prior to the season, myself included. They sure didn't look like it on Sunday. The defense appeared over-matched by any skill-position player the Chiefs ran out there. The only good news in this situation is you can sometimes overcome talent deficiencies on defense with teamwork, communication, and effective schemes. But as presently constituted, that definitely isn't an option for this group. This might call for drastic action to be taken at the defensive coordinator position.
The Bell situation, a quagmire of their own creation, is a constant distraction which negatively affects team chemistry, but their hands appear tied at the moment. There’s no way to know if Bell would work with the team on a sign-and-trade deal, or if another team would even be interested, but it doesn't sound like the Steelers are interested in that anyway.
It’s one thing when your best players get out of hand and need a reality check, but now even career-underachievers like Bud Dupree are creating negative attention while offering next to nothing on the field.
This team's performance on and off of the field is unacceptable. Steelers Nation deserves better, the coaching staff knows better, and the owners must demand better.