The book has closed on the 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers, and as players look back on the season there are certainly mixed emotions regarding the success and failure of this batch of Steelers.
When Scott Brown of ESPN.com went into the locker room to ask players how they would grade the 2014 season as a whole, right guard David DeCastro had a strong opinion about how the season unraveled in Pittsburgh.
"There's one way they grade seasons here in Pittsburgh and obviously we kind of failed so you give it an 'F' I guess. It sucks that it's over because you really enjoyed the process. It's a good group of guys, especially in our room." DeCastro said.
DeCastro is right about one thing, which is the attitude of 'championship or bust' that resides within Steeler Nation. However, as accurate DeCastro is in his statement, he is equally wrong. The Steelers are a team seemingly on the rise and will look to seriously compete in 2015, and the success of that team will largely be based around the play of DeCastro and the rest of his offensive teammates.
Other players were much less harsh in their grading of the team this season. Outside linebacker, Jason Worilds, didn't see the whole year as a bust.
"I'll say a B-minus because some of the games we lost this year we knew we were better than that. For everybody to look each other in the eyes, hold each other accountable and come back and be productive that's bonus points. It's a different feel than it's been in the past and for us to get to where we were this year, it's a disappointing (end), but a step in the right direction."
Inside linebacker Vince Williams saw the team making a step in the right direction, but falling short of the ultimate goal.
"Probably a B-minus or a B. We made the playoffs but obviously we fell short of our ultimate goal. You want to put yourself in a position to win out and obviously we did that so that's a plus. But we didn't finish."
Safety Shamarko Thomas sees this team as a team who can't give themselves too much credit based on the end result of the season.
"I'd give it a C We all came together and competed and gave it our all, man, it just didn't come out like we wanted it to. It's definitely a C because we're striving for the Super Bowl."
Some, like left guard Ramon Foster, weren't able to give the season a grade due to the complexities which make a football team succeed or fail.
"I can't give it (a grade) because there's just so many things that go into that. It was a good season, (but) we can't be satisfied with what we have. That's got to be the biggest thing we carry to (training) camp. We've got to work harder."
Any way you look at it, the Steelers are a team to watch in the coming years, but when looking back on 2014 it is difficult to give the team a passing grade after failing to beat the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field when it mattered most in the Wild Card round of the AFC Playoffs.