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?