‘The standard is the standard’ is a phrase the Pittsburgh Steelers have been built upon since Mike Tomlin took over as this team’s head coach. The words have multiple meanings, namely playing at a high level, giving it everything you have, and not living in your fears among many other things. Most importantly, I always thought it meant excellence is the expectation. But as I sit here and write this, I can’t help but think this team has lost that identity.
Looking back at the last month, you would likely notice a number of times the Steelers broke their cardinal rule. The Steelers second half punt against the Browns is the definition of living in their fears, for example. Then the Steelers decided to move on from some of their offensive coaching staff. It was also reported they would target an offensive line coach before they hired their next offensive coordinator. That did not happen. Then after a month of interviewing coaches in which the Steelers were denied interviews, they eventually settled on an in house option. Had the Steelers not talked up the importance of hiring an offensive line coach than the move probably wouldn't have been so vocally criticized.
But it speaks volumes to the current state of the Steelers: They're incredibly cheap. The team has the smallest coaching staff and the smallest pay roll for coaches across the entire NFL. Being cheap and being successful do not go hand in hand in this league. Speaking of assistant coaches, when was the last time a Steelers assistant actually received a promotion from another organization? Under Mike Tomlin you can say it was never, aside from coaches that were fired and worked their way up through another team. For a team that hasn't had a losing season since 2003, this is pathetic.
The Steelers management has also fallen into complacency. Once a group that took no sniveling, a group that would force a hall of fame player into retirement has gone soft when being challenged with the same scenario. Does Ben Roethlisberger run this team or do the guys in the front office? The Steelers are bending to Roethlisberger’s whim and push money into the future which will directly hurt the Steelers ability to rebuild post-Ben. Do we care more about Roethlisberger moving up the all-time stat charts or setting up the future of the team?
Right now the Steelers look like a team trying to compete for a championship while making moves a tanking team would make. Going 7-9 in 2021 isn't helping this team in anyway as drafting 13-15 isn't high enough to land a top quarterback in the draft anymore. Being mediocre in the NFL only leads to more mediocrity. Getting stuck in a 8-8 loop is real in this league. You either have to bottom out or make smart, aggressive moves to get out of the cycle. The Steelers don’t strike me as a team willing to make any sort of aggressive move right now.
The most important thing the Steelers need to find this offseason is to remember what it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and the expectations that comes with it. If they can't become that team again then I would expect the next couple seasons to drag on until Art Rooney II finally pushes the people in charge out.
What do you think? Do the Steelers still abide by the phrase ‘The Standard is The Standard’? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.