The Steelers are 8-7 with just one week to go in the 2019 regular season. They’ve experienced a lot of bad luck this year, from Antonio Brown going crazy, to Ben Roethlisberger going on the IR. The fact that they’ve secured a 13th-straight non-losing season, in this, head coach Mike Tomlin’s 13th year, is rather remarkable, right? Yes, they’ve lost two-straight games and have fumbled control of their playoff fate away to the Titans, who can secure the AFC’s final postseason berth with a victory over the Texans this Sunday, but the fact that they’re in a position where they need a win and some help in-order to advance to January football is still quite remarkable. With everything this team has been through in 2019, to call missing the playoffs an epic collapse on par with even last year’s would be unfair, right? The Steeler Hangover’s Tony Defeo and Bryan Anthony Davis, have differing viewpoints on the following subject. Join them as they slug it out in text below.
If the Steelers finish 8-8 and miss the playoffs, it will be another epic collapse
Tony Defeo’s Point
Wrong! At least that’s what I think.
Look, I realize what the Steelers have done this year to even be in a position to make the playoffs is mostly unprecedented in the history of teams that have lost quarterbacks the level of a Roethlisberger.
Look at the 2015 Ravens, a team that experienced the loss of Joe Flacco to a torn ACL. They finished with 11 losses.
What about the 49ers from a year ago, a struggling franchise that seemed to be on the rise after acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo midway through the 2017 season, only to be saddled with another double-digit loss campaign, thanks to the year-ending knee-injury suffered by Garoppolo in Week 3?
It’s simply hard to make up for the loss of a really good quarterback. And as it pertains to the 2019 version of the Steelers, they also had to deal with the season-ending loss of defensive end Stephon Tuitt, along with the long-term absence of receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who missed several weeks with a knee injury, as well as the multitude of ailments that have limited running back James Conner’s effectiveness in 2019.
You combine the loss of so much key personnel—specifically the injuries that precipitated the signings of several practice squad-level talents, such as receiver Deon Cain and running back Kerrith Whyte. Jr.—with the realization that quarterbacks Mason Rudolph, a 2018 third-round pick with a supposed first-round grade—at least by the Steelers—and Devlin Hodges, an undrafted free agent rookie who was cut in training camp, may not have what it takes to replace a legend such as Roethlisberger, it would be unreasonable to expect the Steelers to be in a much better position than they’re in with just one game to go.
You may have convinced me of that on October 6, right after the Steelers lost Rudolph with a concussion, as well as an overtime game to Baltimore. Pittsburgh was 1-4 at that point and looking like a sure bet to finish with 10 or more defeats.
But, then the Steelers started winning, and it didn’t matter if it was Hodges, Rudolph or Hodges again. Pittsburgh managed to find a recipe for success that included a stout defense, really good special teams and just enough offense. What was once a 1-4 record, soon became an 8-5 mark. What once looked like a fantasy, soon became a reality. The Steelers simply needed to win two of their last three games in-order to reach the postseason.
Not only that, but the Steelers actually had the inside track on the fifth seed. All they had to do was knock off a defensive-heavy but offensive-light Bills team at Heinz Field on December 15, followed by a nine-loss Jets team on December 22.
Obviously, the Steelers came up small. Not only did they lose the inside track on the fifth seed, they lost the inside track on making the playoffs at all.
For the fourth time in the last six years, Pittsburgh is in a position where it needs help. Should I feel sorry for this compromised Steelers team? No, because they grabbed a monumental task by the throat months ago and refused to let go, refused to let go....until they got us to believe in them. The second that happened, they let go, and now we’re here holding the bag.
If the Steelers lose to the Ravens on Sunday and lose out on a playoff berth, in my opinion, it will be every bit the collapse that 2009 and 2018 were.
Oh, you’re missing your franchise quarterback? Suck it up, buttercup! Get us that playoff spot, or wear the label of choke-artist, yet again.
Bryan Anthony Davis’ Counterpoint
Tony, the Rogaine is not only failing you...it’s seeping through your brain and penetrating your cerebral cortex.
The season seemed like a disappointment Week One at “the Rusty Razor”...Gillette Stadium. They looked dreadful from the first series on. But that was excusable. They were playing the defending champs on the road where they perpetually struggle. The next week against Seattle was even worse. The defense was a sieve and their Hall of Fame QB was put on the shelf for the season. The 2019 season, for all intents and purposes, seemed over then.
The Steelers didn’t give up though. The Miami Dolphins apparently thought they should and would. They had a lot of suitors for Minkah Fitzpatrick, but in their minds they were getting a pick in the top four. Actually, many a Steeler fan thought the same thing. But the 53 men in black-and-gold and the coaching staff did not.
Tony, this is a team that should not be in sniffing distance of a postseason berth. They lost a valued assistant coach, Mike Munchak, to Denver. They tragically lost another, Darryl Drake, in training camp. They lost Ben, Sean Davis, Rosie Nix and Stephon Tuitt early on for the entire year. Their current top two quarterbacks weren’t on other teams to start the season, they were on their couches pondering their life’s work. These guys are essentially fourth and fifth stringers. I’m not even mentioning the losses of James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster for a majority of the season, let alone the production from Antonio Brown and LeVeon Bell. But despite all of their problems, they are in the position that they are in.
Mike Tomlin kept this band of brothers together. They played like a true team. But their fan base expects the playoffs every year and anything else is unacceptable to some. In my opinion, this was an amazing season. I am immensely proud of this team that resembled a preseason lineup a good part of the season.
You can’t have an epic collapse when there was barely ever a foundation.
So...what are your thoughts? Which one of us gets to bask in the glory of being right this week? State your case in the comments section and be sure to vote in the poll. Tony lost again last week and is now 3-11 on the season, while BAD took another W. Can Tony get another streak going or will Davis pad his lead? Vote and state your case in the comments.
Do you agree more with Tony Defeo or Bryan Anthony Davis on whether not making the playoffs would be considered an epic collapse.
This poll is closed
TonDef is right this time. It’s playoffs or bust.
BAD is correct. We should be proud of this team regardless with all of the obstacles.