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Steelers News: What kind of changes, and to what extent, need to happen in Pittsburgh?

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Time to check on the latest news surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pittsburgh Steelers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

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 the changes which need to take place, but not just the changes but the extent of those changes to get the team back to Championship Sunday next season.

Let’s get to the news:

John Steigerwald: Business as usual won’t cut it for Steelers

By: John Steigerwald, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Art Rooney II is right.

Things could have been a lot different in the AFC North if not for the kicker. There was that blocked field goal in overtime in Week 1 that led to a tie, and then there was that loss by three points when the kicker missed two field goals and two extra points.

Art, of course, was talking about Chris Boswell, who, according to him, went from one of the best kickers in the league in 2017 to one of the worst this season.

I, of course, am talking about Zane Gonzalez.

He was the Cleveland Browns’ kicker until they cut him at the start of Week 3. Gonzalez had a tough two weeks to start the season. He had a 43-yard attempt blocked by the Pittsburgh Steelers’ T.J. Watt in the opener with nine seconds left in overtime. That game, you may remember, ended in a 21-21 tie. The next week, Gonzalez missed two field goals and two extra points in a 21-18 loss to the Saints in New Orleans.

If he makes those kicks, the Browns finish 9-7. It would have meant that, instead of giving the Steelers a division championship by beating the Ravens in Baltimore in the last game of the season, they would have won the division themselves. They lost that game 26-24 after the Ravens intercepted a Baker Mayfield pass in field-goal territory in the last seconds.

So Rooney probably shouldn’t try to console himself or his fans, as he did while making the rounds in rare talks with the media last week, by playing the woulda-coulda-shoulda game. The Browns had just as many couldas.

And they shoulda started the season with Mayfield at quarterback instead of Tyrod Taylor, who left for good with a concussion in the second quarter of their third game.

That coulda meant a 2-0 start.

Rooney bristled at the idea that his franchise had turned into a circus when it was suggested at his press conference Wednesday.

“It’s nonsense,” he said. “We didn’t achieve our goal of winning the division, but we finished a half-game out and had a lot of opportunities to get there.”

Again, so did the Cleveland Stinking Browns.

They played in four overtime games and lost three of them. The tie with the Steelers looked like a fluke because, at the time, nobody believed they were close to being as good as the Steelers.

They were and they are going into next season.

And it’s about a lot more than the kicker.

No need here to drag out all the circus acts from 2018. They’ve become part of Steelers lore and will live forever, but the first act was Antonio Brown showing up in a helicopter.

After flaming out at home to Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars in their last appearance of the 2017 season, it would have been a nice touch if the coach, Mike Tomlin, had told his players it was time for a little humility.

You know, how about displaying a “We mean business” attitude and a focus on the team instead of starting the season off with the biggest and most ridiculous “Look at me” moment in Steelers history?

It’s hard to believe that nobody in the organization had been aware of Brown’ s plan for the big entrance. Would it have been too much to ask if he could just shut up and show up? Maybe change the tone a little bit?

(For more, click the link in the headline...)

Mark Madden: Rooney should make Tomlin feel like he has to earn contract extension

By: Mark Madden, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

When Steelers owner/president Art Rooney II made his media rounds this week, he seemed noncommittal to the notion of extending the contract of coach Mike Tomlin.

“Those are things we’ll get to sort of later in the offseason,” Rooney said.

Translation: Tomlin will get extended, but it’s not something Rooney wants to trumpet less than a month after an epic fail of a season that saw his coach lose control.

Rooney refused to characterize the Steelers as a “circus,” and why would he? That wouldn’t do the franchise one bit of good.

But, by season’s end, the whole team could have spilled out of a solitary car at the 50-yard-line by way of pregame introductions.

Changes to the coaching staff have been minimal: Two assistants were let go. Offensive line coach Mike Munchak made a lateral move to Denver to be near his daughter and granddaughter and for no other reason — certainly not to escape the quicksand of the Steelers’ chaos, nor because Munchak was a lonely island of discipline and structure in an ocean of turmoil.

Somebody already on the staff will “assist” Tomlin with replay challenges. That’s cosmetic, not meaningful. Tomlin, who has been unsuccessful on all nine of his replay challenges over the last two seasons, still has final say. He shouldn’t.

Doing a basic read-between-the-lines translation of what Rooney said, he thinks the Steelers’ problems are neither great, nor many.

Rooney will confirm that when he extends Tomlin’s contract this offseason.

That adheres to the Steelers’ policy of extending a coach’s commitment when he has two years left on his current deal. (The Steelers are addicted to doing things exactly as they have for the past 50 years. Except Tomlin isn’t Chuck Noll.)

Tomlin largely let the reins slip during the last two seasons. It wasn’t nonstop chaos but pretty close. Review the timeline.

Tomlin acknowledged the Steelers’ framework needs modified: “I foster and develop every aspect of our culture.”

That’s a mouthful for someone who seems to rarely think he’s wrong, let alone admit it.

More tangibly, the Steelers went from 7-2-1 to out of the playoffs.

The Steelers are broken. Tomlin likely doesn’t know how to fix it. But giving him job security beyond 2020 might make him think he doesn’t really have to. The gravity of the situation would be minimized. This past season’s collapse would be normalized.

Giving Tomlin an extension now (and, very likely, a hefty raise) would be pointing him in the wrong direction.

Tomlin wouldn’t be a lame duck without an extension. He has two years left, not one.

(For more, click the link in the headline...)

FIXING THE STEELERS: 2019 OFFSEASON PLAN

By: Jon Ledyard, The Draft Network

At 7-2-1 coming off an amazing comeback win against Jacksonville, all seemed fine in Pittsburgh. Another division title was essentially guaranteed, and a run at the Super Bowl seemed legitimate given the weak AFC and parity across the entire NFL.

Instead, the Steelers lost four of their last six, fell flat on their faces blowing several fourth quarter leads and were thoroughly out-coached and out-played during a stretch of miserable football that will go down in NFL history. According to ESPN Stats & Info, the Steelers are the third team to start 7-2-1 or better through 10 games and fail to reach the playoffs since the current format was adopted in 1990. Both the other teams (Dolphins, 1993, Raiders, 1995) lost their starting quarterbacks to spur on the collapse.

The Steelers, generally blessed with good health throughout the season, delivered an all-time choke job by losing to the Broncos and Raiders and tying the Browns before blowing a late lead against the Saints in Week 16.

The questions have never been louder in Pittsburgh than they are right now. Should Mike Tomlin stay as head coach? Is the team’s Super Bowl window closed? Will they finally be aggressive in acquiring top talent in the offseason?

The answer is yes, no and dear God I hope so, but probably no.

Allow me to elaborate with the offseason moves Pittsburgh must make to return to the postseason.

(For more, click the link in the headline...)