On this Monday, January 11th, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ global fan base sits and thinks about what they watched unfold on Sunday night with the Cleveland Browns coming into Heinz Field and putting an end to the Steelers’ playoffs as fast as they started.
Following the 48-37 defeat, fans want heads to roll.
I get it, everyone gets it, but for the contingent of fans who thinking the firing of Mike Tomlin, Randy Fichtner, Keith Butler, or any combination of the three, will be the deciding factor for the success of the organization...I have news for you.
Could it make a difference in the offense’s consistency? Possibly.
Could it be a new message being heard from the players? It would.
Would it mean some new wrinkles to the defense many haven’t seen? Sure.
But the one thing you cannot ignore throughout all of this is the fact the coaches are not the only problem with this team.
Notice I said only, not the problem.
Would a new offensive coordinator help with consistency? It could, but it isn’t going to make Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro or Alejandro Villanueva younger overnight. It isn’t going to make them better run blockers, or get a running back who has the skill of a Le’Veon Bell to make running behind a line like this feasible.
The Steelers could get rid of Butler, but it wouldn’t bring back Devin Bush from his torn ACL, wouldn’t help re-sign Bud Dupree this offseason and won’t have to make a tough decision with Joe Haden and his lucrative contract entering 2021.
I think you get my point.
The Steelers coaching staff, from Tomlin down, have had better days/weeks/months, but the roster is staring at some extremely difficult decisions coming up this offseason.
Just look at some of these cap hits for the 2021 season (all numbers courtesy of OverTheCap.com):
Ben Roethlisberger: $41,250,000 / Dead Cap Hit: $22,250,000
Joe Haden: $15,575,000 / Dead Cap Hit: $8,575,000
Stephon Tuitt: $14,940,750 / Dead Cap Hit: $9,281,500
Maurkice Pouncey: $14,475,000 / Dead Cap Hit: $6,475,000
Steven Nelson: $14,420,000 / Dead Cap Hit: $6,170,000
David DeCastro: $14,297,500 / Dead Cap Hit: $5,547,500
Should the Steelers make changes? They have to make changes. The fan base, and certainly ownership echoes this sentiment, is tired of deflating losses when it matters most. End of season collapses and playoff failures have become all too normal in Pittsburgh. The last playoff victory was in 2016, and the mystique of Tomlin and Roethlisberger seems to be wearing off.
However, the organization must, and will, make their next steps wisely. The pending salary cap will be a large determiner in how the Steelers approach the 2021 free agency period, and the NFL Draft.
How many of the above players will the team have to part ways with for cap purposes?
How many, if any, free agents will the Steelers be able to afford if the salary cap remains where it currently is?
There are so many uncertainties with this offseason, mainly dictated by the unknown salary cap, fans should know tough decisions remain ahead, but that doesn’t mean they will happen right away. The Steelers aren’t usually the knee jerk reaction type of organization, who will fire coaches the moment the season is over. That doesn’t mean they won’t, but it also doesn’t mean they will do so right away.
Will there be changes on the coaching staff? I would expect that to happen.
Will those changes be the cure-all for this team? Don’t be so naïve. This roster is going to undergo an overhaul, how big of an overhaul has yet to be decided. But if you are thinking firing coaches will be the answer, think again.
There are no easy answers for this Steelers team moving forward. As much as we want to pin blame on a few individuals, the problems with the Steelers runs much deeper than the coaching staff.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for a tumultuous offseason.