Frustrated. That seems to be the consensus all over Steeler Nation in regards to our emotions about the 2012 season. This week Steelers President Art Rooney II made his first public comments about the Steelers 8-8 season and the future of the franchise. The frustration keeps on going, too. From the 2012 draft class that amounted to mostly injuries and arrests to an offense that could never seem to get on the same page. The missed opportunities on defense and the impending salary cap issues will continue to cause frustration for the front office and fans alike.
Last season Rooney startled everyone when he stated in his post-season interview that he though Roethlisberger needed to “tweak” his game in order to prevent him from injuries. Then of course he went on to announce the “retirement” of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians starting the sh** storm that still seems to be swirling around the team’s OC position as inconclusive reports on whether or not current OC Todd Haley has interviewed for a head coaching position in Arizona came out this week. Rooney stated that he believes both Tomlin and Haley did a good job this season and expressed confidence in both coaches going forward. For all the unnecessary drama that followed Haley and Ben during their first season together, none of it would have been as bad as it was if Rooney hadn’t of handled the transition of Arians to Haley so poorly. Whether the majority of Steeler Nation wants to admit it or not, the best thing moving forward for the Steelers offense would be for Haley to continue to be able to implement a system in which Ben is protected more and his offensive weapons talents are maximized. It’s obvious that didn’t get a chance to fully develop this season, with Ben still missing games due to injury and coming back a shell of his first half of the season-self.
What offensive weapons will Ben have in the next season? Rooney also spoke about the salary cap issues that have presented themselves for the 2013 season. The Steelers are projected to be roughly $10 million over the projected cap of $121 million with just about 30 players under contract. Rooney would not discuss which players he thinks will be salary cap casualties and which will be asked to restructure as he stated that Tomlin was still in the process of evaluating the players. Rooney stated in regards to the salary cap,
“We’re tight, similar to where we’ve been the past few years. We’ve got work to do there. That will be one of the challenges of this offseason, really trying to figure out how we’re going to put this jigsaw puzzle back together.”
Another topic Rooney tackled in his interview was the turnover situation. The Steelers defense couldn’t create any and the Steelers offense couldn’t stop turning the ball over. That’s a combination that will certainly secure a team’s fate of not playing any games in January. While the Steelers defense ended the season with the overall #1 ranking in the league, that ranking only relates to yards allowed as the defense ranked 25th overall in takeaways with 20 on the season. The Steelers offense, on the other hand, coughed up the ball 30 times, most of those seemingly coming in that disaster of a game in Cleveland in Week 12. In my humble opinion, the turnovers are going to haunt me the most this offseason. With all the criticism of the offense, the lack of consistent rushing game, the defense not getting enough sacks or turnovers, and questionable discipline problem leading to ridiculous amounts of penalties and missteps made, the Steelers still had a chance to control their own destiny, still had a chance to make it into the playoffs until Ben threw that interception in overtime against the Bengals in Week 16.
In the midst of Rooney making his end of the season review, the Steelers unfortunately became the first team with an offseason arrest with RB Chris Rainey getting arrested in Gainesville, FL for domestic battery. Rainey was almost immediately waived by the Steelers in response. This brings the draft class of 2012 to a new low with their third round pick Alameda Ta’amu having been arrested during the season for a multitude of charges involving a DUI on the South Side. Ta’amu wasn’t immediately waived like Rainey was and there seems to be no consistency involving the treatment of the two situations unless of course you take into account the fact that Rainey had already had a history of issues with domestic violence while he was a student at UF. The rest of the draft class included the #1 overall pick David DeCastro spending the majority of the season on IR and Mike Adams not lasting the entire season falling to injury as well.
So when will this frustration go away? We have yet to even scratch the surface of what this offseason will bring for the Steelers. It remains to be seen whether or not Haley will return as OC or will be accepting a head coaching position elsewhere, there will be a search for a new OL coach along with potentially a new Special Teams coach, not to mention the news that Omar Khan might be on his way out as well with an interview for the GM position with the Jets. There’s another change, well not necessarily a change as much as a return, for the Steelers this offseason. Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney has relinquished his position as United States Ambassador to Ireland and will presumably return to the Steelers organization. How much affect the 80 year old Rooney will have over the football operations remains to be seen. The offseason is frustrating already for those of us who live and breathe for the Black & Gold. Especially when it’s longer than it was expected to be. Here’s hoping the front office can make the right moves this offseason to prevent some of the frustrations of the 2012 season from repeating themselves in 2013.
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