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The proposed “lack of discipline” by the Steelers is tough to pin down

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The Pittsburgh Steelers have been labeled as “undisciplined”, but how exactly do we gauge this?

Divisional Round - Jacksonville Jaguars v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Everyone has heard it after the Steelers’ 45-42 season-ending loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the playoffs...

“This team lacks discipline!”

While I am not suggesting I disagree with this, I also realize fans should try and pin point what exactly they mean by this overall statement, considering the actual statistics don’t back up these claims.

When I think about discipline, I first think of on-field play. You know, penalties. An undisciplined play would consist of a team who commits a crazy number of penalties, and, for the Steelers, this simply isn’t the case.

The Steelers averaged 6.2 penalties per game, which was 13th in the league, and committed 101 overall penalties, tied for 20th in the league. These are statistics you don’t want to lead the league in, and while not the absolute best, they are on the correct side of these numbers.

So, maybe fans who are talking about the overall discipline of the team are referring to off-field issues. Distractions, and such. In this case, it is difficult for me, or anyone for that matter, to actually make these claims considering we aren’t in the locker room, we aren’t in the team meetings and we certainly aren’t privy to those conversations regarding the discipline of the team.

The distractions are the biggest black eye when it comes to the discipline of the team, but can anyone say it actually impacted the Steelers’ play on the field? A strong case could be made for the Week 3 loss to the Bears after the National Anthem debacle, but other than that?

Tough for me to pin point any tangible signs the Steelers are as “undisciplined” as some may believe.

Just my two cents, and I elaborate more on these thoughts in the short podcast above. Take a listen!

Now time to check on the black-and-gold news outside the walls of BTSC...

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said this week that he doesn’t “think there’s any truth” behind claims that coach Mike Tomlin was the reason why Pittsburgh lost in the AFC Championship Game.

Defensive end Cameron Heyward co-signed that take at Pro Bowl practice on Friday. Heyward has heard the critiques centered on the Steelers lacking discipline under Tomlin and offered a strong rebuke.

“It’s a load of crap to me,” Heyward said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We’re grown men. We’re not in Little League. We lost the game, and we overcame a lot. A lot of teams would have fallen by the wayside. ‘Coach T’ kept everyone focused and moving on to the next problem. Obviously, we had too many problems to deal with, but that’s not on him. … It falls on me and Ben. We’re leaders. As much as we talk about the drama and stuff, it wasn’t like guys were getting arrested or anything, or being caught with stuff. We’ll move past it. It’s nothing that will stick with this team.”

It’s nice to know that Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward has his coach’s back. If more of Heyward’s teammates did, maybe they’d be getting ready to play in the Super Bowl right now.

Regardless of what Heyward says about the team’s perceived (or actual) lack of discipline, there were indeed problems with discipline this year — and some of them fall on the shoulders of the coaching staff.

For example, Tomlin created the distraction arising from his stunning willingness to look past multiple opponents in talking about two future games (one that happened, one that didn’t) against the Patriots. Also, the distractions that came from multiple failures of situational football (against the Patriots and Jaguars) trace ultimately to Tomlin.

Though it’s hardly official, it appears the third time won’t be a charm for former Steelers guard Alan Faneca when it comes to enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Despite what you might think, Faneca is OK with that. He’s just happy to be included on a list with so many great players.

“It’s awesome just to be in the conversation,” Faneca said Tuesday from his home in the Washington, D.C. area. “It’s hard not to enjoy it when people are speaking nicely of you.”