The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season is over, but if you think the news surrounding the black-and-gold is over — think again. For the drama-filled Steelers, things are just heating up, and this is where the daily links article comes in. You might have missed some key news, and we fill you in and give you the latest, and sometimes greatest, news surrounding the Steelers.
Today in the Black-and-gold links article we take a look at how former Steelers safety, Ryan Clark, did more than just talk about Brown as a teammate, but disparaged his name on multiple platforms on the world-wide leader in sports, ESPN.
Let’s get to the news:
Former Steeler Ryan Clark gives unflattering view of Antonio Brown on ESPN
By: Chris Adamski, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Frustration is quietly building among some Pittsburgh Steelers teammates toward Antonio Brown. A former teammate certainly didn’t hold back on a very public forum.
Now an NFL analyst for ESPN, former longtime Steelers safety Ryan Clark relayed a anecdote from 2012 training camp during a segment on “SportsCenter” on Monday night .
Clark said that when it became apparent the Steelers were going to give Brown a big contract extension that week six-plus years ago, he told an unnamed strength coach, “When you give him money, you’re going to create a monster.”
The Steelers in July 2012 were attempting to come to an agreement on a contract extension with then-No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace. When it became clear that wasn’t going to happen, they then turned to Brown and did what for them is unprecedented before or since: gave a longterm contract extension to a non-quarterback who had two years remaining on his existing contract.
During the second day of that 2012 camp, Brown and the Steelers agreed on a five-year, $42.5 million contract that ran through the 2017 season.
“That day in practice, Antonio and I almost got into a fight,” Clark said on ESPN, “because he’s saying things at (defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau), screaming at Coach LeBeau, screaming at us defensively, saying, ‘Don’t touch me; I’m the franchise,’ this and that.”
Brown, incidentally, expressed dissatisfaction with that deal as soon as 2015; the Steelers, again, went out character to give him cleverly-disguised raises before the 2015 and 2016 seasons before the sides agreed to a new five-year, $72.7 million contract in February 2017 .
Kevin Gorman: A season of Super Bowl hopes spoiled for Steelers
By: Kevin Gorman, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
What a wild, weird scene it was Sunday at Heinz Field, where the Pittsburgh Steelers saw their season once again come down to a fumble, a field goal and an interception.
The Steelers beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 16-13, on a 35-yard field goal by Matt McCrane, only to stay on the field and watch the Cleveland-Baltimore finish on the Jumbotron. Their hearts dropped as Baltimore linebacker C.J. Mosley picked off a pass by Baker Mayfield to help the Ravens beat the Browns to clinch the AFC North title.
Excruciating doesn’t even come close to describing the disappointment of a season that started with Super Bowl aspirations and ended with the Steelers missing the playoffs for the first time in five years.
This was pure torture.
“Yes, to say the least,” Steelers defensive captain Cameron Heyward said. “You can’t even enjoy the win because you’re standing at the cliff, just waiting for something to happen.”
That was the story of their season, one that humbled a proud franchise that owns six Lombardi trophies as Super Bowl champions. The cruel irony is the Steelers finally finished off a must-win game — with a kicker signed four days earlier — only to see their hopes vanish.
Weird as it was to hear Pittsburgh fans cheering for Cleveland, it was worse the Steelers were counting on the Browns to save their season. The same Browns that tied the Steelers in the opener, a game marred by interceptions and fumbles and missed field goals.
“It’s frustrating because we put ourselves in this position like that,” Heyward said. “It hurts. To know that you gave it all in this game right here but yet you’re still looking around, thinking, ‘We’ve got to get somebody else to do their job?’
“That’s not how we wanted this season to go.”
The Ravens’ 26-24 victory over the Browns was a reminder of all that went wrong for the Steelers. The Browns forced a goal-line fumble by Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, only to see officials signal a touchdown and whistle dead their fumble recovery return for a touchdown. The Browns also missed a field goal and then threw a game-ending interception.
But it wasn’t the Browns’ loss to Baltimore that cost the Steelers a spot in the playoffs. It was Ben Roethlisberger’s interception in the end zone at Denver, Chris Boswell’s slip on a missed field goal at Oakland and the fourth-quarter fumbles by Stevan Ridley and JuJu Smith-Schuster at New Orleans. It was losing at home to the Chiefs, Ravens and Chargers, the last of which saw the Steelers blow a 16-point halftime lead.
“We lacked our finish. We lacked stepping up in those critical moments,” Heyward said. “In those critical situations, whether it was offense or defense, when we needed a play we weren’t getting them.”
That’s what will stick with Heyward, as it will the rest of us.
The Steelers have no one to blame but themselves.
It wasn’t long ago that the Steelers were 7-2-1, appearing to cruise to another AFC North title. It was only two weeks ago they defeated their nemesis, the New England Patriots, and were positioned for a first-round bye. Now, they will be watching the playoffs the same way they watched the Browns-Ravens: On television, as spectators.
“It’s tough. You want to win a Super Bowl every year — every team does — and only one team gets to,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “We made the playoffs the last few years, so we’ve been a little spoiled in that sense. We got a little spoiled because we went to a lot of Super Bowls early, right? So we thought we were going to do it every year or every other year or every third year. It’s not that easy.
“Look at teams that have never been there or teams between Super Bowls or playoff runs. We can spoiled here as players but we still strive for that every year.”
It isn’t just striving for the Steelers. It’s the standard, something Mike Tomlin treats as a mantra. The Steelers have so much talent that they could have made a playoff run in a wide-open AFC but they took a spot in the postseason for granted and squandered too many opportunities.
“Woulda, coulda, shoulda,” Roethlisberger said. “I could sit here and say, ‘Yeah, we’d be dangerous in the playoffs,’ but we didn’t make it so it doesn’t matter. But you always like your chances.”
Tim Benz: For Steelers and Mike Tomlin, it’s about next year’s resolutions
By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
It’s New Year’s resolution season. Unfortunately for Mike Tomlin and his Pittsburgh Steelers, that means Next Year’s resolution season.
With Sunday’s elimination of the Black and Gold, this year’s campaign finished about a month earlier than what the Steelers wanted.
It’s time for Tomlin to pledge some resolutions toward making 2019 better.
Yes. Tomlin will be back to do precisely that, whether an increasingly vocal and steadily growing portion of the fanbase thinks that’s a good idea or not.
So here are some things Tomlin should vow to do this offseason.
GET A REPLAY GUY
Other teams have one. The Penguins won two Stanley Cups in part because of their guy , Andy Saucier.
Whatever Tomlin is doing on his own just isn’t working. Ever since we made it known how much Tomlin struggled with challenges — a streak that has reached 10 failures in a row — he’s gotten gun-shy.
To a degree, I don’t blame him. We’ve seen some baffling decisions go against the Steelers via replay.
Because of Tomlin’s lack of faith in the process — an irony given his seat on the NFL Competition Committee — he appears unwilling to challenge plays he should. For instance, flashback to the Sean Davis hit on Michael Thomas in New Orleans.
It was ruled an incompletion. It looked like a fumble to me. It was at least worthy of risking a timeout to take a second look.
Speaking of timeouts …
START USING TIMEOUTS ON DEFENSE LATE IN CLOSE GAMES
It’s better to control the clock when you don’t have the ball than when you do have it. Because, on offense, you are in greater control of the clock in the first place.
Tomlin got away with holding his timeouts in Jacksonville . That didn’t work in Oakland .
One of Tomlin’s major credos is coaching by his gut and not coaching by some sort of “book.”
I get that. It sounds very rah-rah “football coachy” to say something like that. And it’s a good idea to avoid living your football existence by stats in a binder.
I’ve gotta ask, though: Is “I’m not coaching by the book” code for “I’m coaching by my own book?”
Certain circumstances dictate past results can’t be guaranteed to work out again.
You know, like trusting a defense, which had been playing well against a bad quarterback in Blake Bortles on a bad day, not to crack against a decent quarterback in Derek Carr on a good day.
Oh, and speaking of that …
DROP ‘WE DON’T LIVE IN OUR FEARS’
At least when it comes to talking about the defense. We all know those words aren’t worth the ink used on the quote sheet.
Tomlin is afraid of his defense and, obviously, has coached that way at times.
Feeling the need to extend that possession in New Orleans with the fake punt is an example. Tomlin did that so he wouldn’t give the ball back to the Saints, or, if the play didn’t work, it would — in his logic — at least give them less room on the field and less time to possess the ball on their way to the next score. That way, the Steelers would have enough time for a game-ending sequence to re-tie the score.
Such an approach indicates a lack of faith in the defense.
As did the onside kick against Jacksonville in the playoffs last year.
(For more, click the link in the headline...)