The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 season has come to close. While the conclusion was much sooner than many anticipated, the Steelers are faced with an offseason with a lot more questions than answers. Postponed one day, Mike Tomlin held his final session with the media on Wednesday. With many questions about the team in general, there were a few questions about specific players. So here is the final article of the 2020 season in regards to players mentioned by Coach Tomlin in his press conference.
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed his 17th NFL season. At 38 years old, the ability for Roethlisberger to continue his NFL career at a high level will be a larger discussion point this offseason. Coach Tomlin was asked if the organization has made a decision if they want to have Roethlisberger return next season and what his impression was of Roethlisberger’s play in 2020.
“We haven’t made any decisions about any of our personnel along those lines. As I mentioned, all of those discussions are interrelated, and we are just beginning to scratch the surface in terms of what 2021 looks like in terms of the make up of our team and the issues relative to it. In regards to Ben [Roethlisberger], I can’t say enough about his performance this year. With the uncertainly coming off of injury, and particularly not having an opportunity to perform in preseason games and so forth, there really was a high level of concern about his health and his ability to perform. I can’t say enough about his efforts. I can’t say enough about the efforts of our medical staff and our rehabilitation stay that worked hand in hand with him to get him to that process and get him to stadiums this year. I was more than pleased with the performance of his health and his ability to stay up. In terms of the quality of his play and our play, we’ll begin to assess that in the upcoming days, but in terms of him responding to the challenges that he specifically came into the season ready to face, spectacular.”
Coach Tomlin was asked a follow up question about if he thinks it is realistic that Ben Roethlisberger will be back given the cap implications.
“I don’t have a clear assessment of the overall impact of the cap ramifications, so I might not have a direct answer to your question, but I think it is reasonable to assume that there is a chance that he will be back, certainly. The depths of the ramifications of the cap discussions, I am not privy to as I sit here right now.
Cam Heyward & T.J. Watt
Defensive captains T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward both said the playoff loss was due to a lack of execution. Coach Tomlin was asked if he agreed with their assessment.
“It was a lot of things. We didn’t perform well. When I say we, I mean us, players and coaches. I think specifically when a game started in the manner that it did and we spotted them the type of points that we spotted them, I think it was going to make splash plays and types of things that we like to do with our defensive unit more difficult. I think that the trajectory of our game changes when you are down the way that you are down. That probably had a lot to do with some of the challenges. More than anything, we didn’t perform well enough, and that is just the truth of it.”
After starting 8 games in 2019, quarterback Mason Rudolph was used in a limited fashion in 2020 with only one start in Week 17. Coach Tomlin was asked about his confidence in Rudolph moving forward.
“I thought he displayed that he took a step in growth and development in his performance, even though it was a small sample size. I would imagine that he is going to continue with that growth and development. We will see where that leads us in terms of what he is able to provide us. I’m excited that he was able to display that and I think it is reasonable for me to expect or him to expect that general trajectory to continue.”
Chase Claypool & Kevin Dotson
The Steelers had more contributions from their 2020 rookie class than they anticipated coming into the season. Coach Tomlin was asked the positive contributions of players still under contract beyond 2020 and he brought up rookies Chase Claypool and Kevin Dotson specifically.
“I will say this, I was really pleased with the contributions and the level of maturity displayed by the draft class given the circumstances of how they came into the season. To get the type of contributions that we got from a Chase Claypool or a Kevin Dotson and the growth and development of some of the others over the course of the season, it is a tip of the cap to them and the people that worked alongside them, coaches—and not only the coaches, the other players and older players that mentored them. I was generally pleased with that and I’m excited about getting them in an offseason mentoring program that may be more normal and is reasonable to expect those types of contributions to continue to solidify and get better.”
For a full recap of Mike Tomlin’s press conference, check out our podcast recap below:
Mike Tomlin’s interview can be seen here: