Steelers 2012 Season: What Was Most Disappointing?

Mike Tomlin. Truly a disappointment in 2012. Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

An 8-8 record for any Steelers roster will always be said to be a disappointing season.  The offense and defense seemed to have diverging directions as the season progressed.  Rarely did this team ever have a truly convincing win.  This season has certainly left a bad taste in most mouths of Steeler Nation.

So what was most disappointing about 2012?

The ground game never took off.  With Rashard Mendenhall out for the first third and never really ‘returning’ to full strength, Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer struggled to fill the roll – as soon as one got hot, he seemed to instantly cool down the following week.  The offensive line certainly didn’t help, but the coaching staff seemed baffled with whom they should commit to.

The defense struggled getting turnovers all season long.  Dropped interceptions, a failed pass rush, and fumble well all dried up left the Steelers ranked 25th overall in turnovers.  This practically nullified the vaunted ‘But, we have the top ranked defense’ line thrown around whenever the Steelers found themselves on the wrong side of the W/L column.

The Big Money Crew became the Big Doh Crew.  The young receiving core of the Steelers had huge flashes of awesomeness in 2011 and were expected to be even better in 2012.  Antonio Brown was paid respect with a huge contract extension over teammate and hold out Mike Wallace.  However, Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, and Wallace all had their stuggles this season.  It was painful to watch.  Missed opportunities, dropped passes, and (worst of all) fumbles at the worst possible moments of a football game – they all helped contribute to an offense that struggled and failed to take off during games.  They also directly contributed to the Steelers losing key fumbles and then losing the game as a result.

Ben Roethlisberger went from MVP to goat in a matter of one month…. at least to some (not me).  Big Ben was having arguably one of his best seasons and was beginning to enter MVP discussions prior to his injury.  After his three weeks off to recover from his rib and shoulder injury, Ben never really seemed to get back to his ol’ self.  He looked very uncomfortable many times in the pocket, his accuracy had fallen off, and he was starting to make some bad decisions.  A late game interception two weeks in a row lead to defeats and sealed the coffin for playoff hopes.  Though not entirely his fault, because lots of other issues lead to the team losing the last 5 out of 7 games in the season, many fans point the finger in his direction of losing his magical two minute drill touch.

Mike Tomlin began showing his inability to prepare this team each week.  Penalties, turnovers, and bone head decision making (players and coaches) left all of Steeler Nation reeling at the end of each game.  If gun control measures are ever passed, it might help out the Steelers because maybe then they can stop shooting themselves in the foot every week.  Tomlin lacked the ability to prepare this team against lesser opponents (see Raiders, Titans, Chiefs, Browns).  Even when the house of cards was about to fall on this season, the Steelers were given golden opportunities to make a race out of the division and overtake the Baltimore Ravens.  Instead of fighting when their backs were up against the wall, this team failed to show any fight, any heart, to make a true playoff push.

Tomlin’s failures are essentially a very damning part of the failures for the 2012 Steelers and is the most disappointing one for me.  It’s the head coach’s responsibility to get a team prepared each week no matter who the opponent is or how strong or weak a schedule you have.  Poor game management once the clock starts ticking makes it even worse.  Tomlin has lots to prove over the next few seasons – player development, preparedness, and game management.

What do you think was the most disappointing?  Do any of you have your own thoughts that are different?

What was the most disappointing part of the 2012 season?

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Topics: Pittsburgh Steelers

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  • Kimmy

    I’d have to go with the offense as a whole being the biggest let down of the season. Starting off good but still inconsistent as far as whether or not they could rush the ball effectively and consistently and then the way the offense ended with almost being unable to convert 3rd downs or score was just so frustrating. I don’t think the next Steelers #1 RB is on the roster right now. I don’t agree that it’s Tomlin’s fault for being unable to commit to anyone, I think it was the lack of talent and production that left them handcuffed as far as who to trust to put in the backfield. Dwyer showed so much promise but once he was given the keys to the running game he tapped his helmet after every other play.

  • johngol

    i have to go with tomlin…how can we lose to the raiders, chargers,browns, and cowboys…how can we have another second half collapse under him….sure we had bad seasons with cohwer and noll but they never had second half collapses and tomlin now has 2

    • Kimmy

      Actually Cowher had 3 straight non-playoff seasons in his tenure as head coach from 1998-2000. No one seems to remember those years when they’re criticizing Tomlin. He was actually given a contract extension following that.

      • Dom DiTolla

        Kim, I’m going to have to disagree with your dismissal of criticism towards Tomlin. Remember that Cowher had the unholy trinity of Kordell Stewart, Mike Tomczak, and Kent Graham starting at Quarterback from 1998-2000, not a 2x Super Bowl winning signal-caller like Big Ben, and Offensive weapons out the wazzu. His team was also in a much larger re-building funk than Tomlin’s was last year as he lost starters like John Jackson, Will Wolford, Dirt Dawson, Greg Lloyd, Darren Perry, Levon Kirkland, and Joel Steed during that period. Plus, Chad Brown, Rod Woodson, Andre Hastings, and Ernie Mills after the 1996 campaign.

        Those ’98 and ’99 teams were vastly under-talented and inexperienced compared to the stacked lineups’ Tomlin has had during his tenure, and playing against A.F.C. juggernauts Baltimore, Jacksonville, and Tennessee a combined 6 times per year didn’t help either.

        Luckily for the Steelers, the ’98, ’99, and ’00 Drafts netted multiple Pro Bowlers & building blocks (Ward, Faneca, Townsend, Porter, A. Smith, Burress, Haggans, M. Smith). One thing those teams weren’t (at least during the regular season’s of Cowher’s regime) were undisciplined, lacking focus, and downright unprepared to play professional football at times like Tomlin’s team was this past year and in year’s past.

        I have hope that Tomlin can “nut up” next year and actually instill some discipline in these younger players as the older veterans are on their way out of town. But judging by last year, “underachievement” and “lack of discipline” seem to be the most pronounced themes from the “Tomlin regime.”

        • Kimmy

          Dom those are all valid points and I mostly agree with everything you said, especially the talent issues and OC changes Cowher dealt with as opposed to what Tomlin has had so far. I wasn’t dismissing the criticism of Tomlin as much as I was dismissing the notion that Cowher is just always inherently considered tougher on discipline and never had bad seasons. I think Cowher gets the title that he was tougher on the team because of the screaming and spitting, whereas Tomlin is much more reserved on the sidelines and that doesn’t necessarily mean Cowher disciplined the team harsher than Tomlin does. I do agree that this team’s problems with penalties and sloppy play results in part with poor preparation by their head coach but I hold the players more accountable than I hold the coach.

  • Ross Cusic

    How about all of the above?

  • http://www.facebook.com/jshepher John Shepherd

    Hopefully, it was readily apparent the amount
    of injuries the team dealt with this year (78 starts lost – 5 starters
    per game average approximately) was the single biggest factor affecting the team. However, there
    was a level of undisciplined play and mistakes (fumbles, dropped passes,
    missed tackles, etc.), along with what appeared to be a lack of
    intensity that injuries don’t explain. Very out of character. Good point Kimmy – folks probably also forget we changed OC in 1998 (Ray Sherman). When that didn’t work, we changed again in 1999/2000 (Kevin Gilbride). When that didn’t work, Cowher wanted to bring back Chan Gailey – Rooney’s stepped in and we ended up promoting Mike Mularkey. Steelers went 13-3 in 2001. How familiar does this sound right now?