The retirement of Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey is still reverberating throughout the fan base, and likely through the organization. Pouncey has been the rock on the Steelers’ offensive line for over a decade, and not only will they have a void to fill from a performance standpoint, but also from a leadership perspective.
Pouncey wasn’t always the man in front of the cameras, but it is clear he was one of the leaders on the offensive side of the ball when cameras weren’t present. When no one was looking, it was Pouncey who was the man to fire up the troops. When it was time to have someone’s back, Pouncey was as loyal as they come.
With Pouncey now on to his life’s work, you have to wonder who will be the player on offense who will be the leader moving forward.
Before some of you head down to the comments and talk about how leadership doesn’t matter in the NFL, how these players make millions of dollars to play a game and how that should be motivation enough, remember the comments players made about legends like Hines Ward and Jerome Bettis.
They spoke of leadership, holding each other accountable to being sure the standard remained the standard, not just a slogan on a wall.
Even in today’s modern NFL, leadership still matters.
Ben Roethlisberger’s leadership has been questioned since he entered the league, and with him in the waning years of his career, you have to wonder who will be the next offensive player to carry the torch of leadership?
The quarterback position always lends itself to being “the guy”, but with the Steelers looking at slim pickings after Roethlisberger steps away from the game, the leadership will likely come from other sources.
Let’s take a look at who could be the next leader(s) of this Steelers offense with Pouncey retired, and Roethlisberger at the end of his career.
Could it be along the offensive line? Could it be someone like David DeCastro? A young player like Kevin Dotson? Some, if not all, of those suggestions seem like long shots.
Could it be at the skill positions? The running back room is extremely green, and assuming James Conner jettisons in free agency, it doesn’t seem likely a vocal leader comes out of that position group. Wide receivers? With JuJu Smith-Schuster also looking to go elsewhere, you can’t see Diontae Johnson, James Washington or Chase Claypool stepping into a leadership role.
The Steelers’ offense has a tremendous infusion of talent, even without Pouncey and Roethlisberger, but has lacked the leadership of a Ward or Bettis since the Killer B’s became a thing. When players like Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell were essentially allowed to run loose, doing as they please, it silenced a lot of those type of leaders.
The offensive side of the ball is about to face a transition, and not just when it comes to on field performance. New faces will have to emerge, and step up as leaders. This could be a time when the offense, and organization, gets a fresh start. Change is inevitable, and it isn’t always a bad thing. With that said, it makes you wonder who will be the next offensive leader for the Steelers? Someone has to step up, right?
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the new league year, NFL Free Agency and the 2021 NFL Draft.