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 question of whether the Steelers are the most underachieving team in the last decade. I mean, think about the talent which has gone through the doors at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex in the last 10 years. And think about how little they have to show for it.
After all, this team doesn’t just play for a good record, they play for championships — and they haven’t been able to capture one of those sine 2009.
Let’s get to the news:
By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Arguing about whether the Pittsburgh Steelers should keep Mike Tomlin is more volatile than any political discussion I can fathom.
Give me a nice, quiet conversation about border walls, health care, gun control, government shutdowns or Hillary’s emails any day.
Those are far less contentious topics.
Sides have been drawn. Heels are dug in. You are pro-Tomlin or anti-Tomlin.
There is no gray area anymore. I tried to live in it for a while.
Like a decade or so.
Frankly, there should be a middle ground. Because Tomlin has a resume worth defending: two Super Bowl trips with one victory, six division titles, 12 years without a losing season.
However, over the last decade, that resume also includes almost as many seasons without the playoffs (four) as with them (six). Only three of those 10 seasons have featured at least one postseason win.
Most disturbingly, those seven seasons without a playoff victory have come during a stretch of time when the Steelers have had the NFL’s most coveted possession: a Hall of Fame quarterback. That’s not to mention scores of other talented players over the years.
Just look at this failed 2018 season. A team good enough to be 7-2-1 beyond the halfway point blew numerous leads, occasionally against inferior teams. As a result, it’s sitting at home, eliminated short of the playoffs.
It’s tough to fault the construction of the roster or the individual accomplishments of its players. The team boasts six Pro Bowlers, which doesn’t even include:
• The team MVP: JuJu Smith-Schuster
• The 5,000-yard passer: Ben Roethlisberger
• The guy many consider to be the best defensive player on the roster: Joe Haden
• The linebacker with the eighth-best sack total in the league: T.J. Watt
When talent of that caliber fails to win, a lot of the blame should fall on the coach. And none of that is to mention the embarrassment bestowed upon the organization with his failure to manage his ego-driven stars.
Many of those key players generating negative headlines and distractions on a weekly basis — Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Le’Veon Bell — received only the slightest of discipline or public admonishment from Tomlin. In fact, he was often their biggest defender.
Why stop at the roster? Extend criticism of off-field behavior to his past and present assistant coaches, such as Todd Haley and Joey Porter.
For all those reasons, I’m now in favor of a change. I think the Steelers should be better.
And I’m phrasing that way for a reason. I truly believe that. The Steelers SHOULD ... BE ... BETTER.
In many ways.
By: Tim Benz, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
When it comes to all this Antonio Brown controversy, as JuJu Smith-Schuster might say, let’s get to the real important stuff: Fantasy Football.
If Brown gets traded, there will be some major waves in the fantasy sports world.
So, during our weekly fantasy sports podcast with Jeff Erickson of Rotowire, we dive into the potential fantasy impact of a Brown trade.
Also, we talk about that ripple effect would go for Smith-Schuster and Ben Roethlisberger.
We then give you some NFL postseason fantasy league advice. Daily fantasy play is active when the playoffs hit, too.
By: Chris Carter, DKPittsburghSports
Well, I planned on writing about the Steelers’ inadequacies and beginning the postseason evaluation process to see what was better and worse about the 2018 season. There’s a lot that went into the team’s regression from 13-3 to 9-6-1, so I’ve been excited to dive into that.
And then, Antonio Brown happened. So that will have to wait a bit.
You’ve read Dejan Kovacevic’s column on Mike Tomlin’s accountability, or lack thereof, and Dale Lolley’s account of the challenge the Steelers face with the crossroads Brown has created. But let’s face the reality of what his departure might mean for the future of the offense.
First, let’s look at how central Brown has been to the Steelers’ offense over the years. This season, he became the first NFL wide receiver with six consecutive seasons with 100 or more receptions, and arguably has the best six year run of any wide receiver in NFL history: 686 receptions for 9,145 yards and 67 touchdowns.
It’s worth noting that 2018 was the first time Brown accounted for less than 25 percent of the Steelers’ overall targets since 2012.
Since Brown became the No. 1 receiver for the Steelers in 2013, the player that got the closest to the number of targets he received in any season was Emmanuel Sanders back in 2013, when he was targeted 113 times compared to Brown’s 167.
But in 2018, JuJu Smith-Schuster accounted for 166 targets while Brown accounted for 168. That difference helped Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ offense become less predictable and open up other opportunities.
If Brown is not part of the team in 2018 and not replaced by another superstar wide receiver, it will change how defenses plan for the Steelers and take away Roethlisberger’s biggest advantages against opposing defenses. You only have to look at the last two games of this season to see the difference in the offense with and without Brown.
(To read more, click the link in the headline...)