Earlier on Wednesday, I read comments from Steelers GM Kevin Colbert about what he thinks going into the 2013 offseason. And, while I respect Colbert immensely for the amazing and thorough job he’s done as the draft master and Director of Football operations, I think his choice to peg the ‘talent’ of the offense was down right misguided and misleading. Some call it a ‘hammer’, I call it ‘shenanigans’.
Comments heard during this press conference:
“When you’re 12-4 and a playoff team, sometimes you get mesmerized by your success and you get a little reluctant to change. If we don’t change a roster that produced 8-8, we’d be silly to expect a better result.”
When asked about the 2012 offense being the worst offense since 1978, Colbert said:
“Indicative of the talent we had at the position.”
In regards to all players entering Free Agency:
“Going into this thing, we’re not married to anybody.”
The iron fist is about to bear down in the Iron City. But is it truly justified? I understand that performances can be a bit of a roller coaster ride – and subsequently be the cause of a lost game or two or even more. But is that what is really happening in Pittsburgh? I complain as much as anyone else about individual performances during a football game. Hell, I could double as Pittsburgh Dad sometimes.
However, there was something much more systemic going on with the team this season just ‘Talent.’ Costly penalties are not a result of poor talent. Not playing a full 60 minutes each game is not a result of poor talent. Injuries are not a result of one player not being as talented as the next. Being restricted to a game plan that does not have a ‘killer’ mentality has nothing to do with talent – at least an individual player’s talent.
I want to compare the rosters from the 2011 Steelers (12-4) to the roster of the 2012 Steelers (8-8).
2011 Steelers: Starters and players with significant snaps
2012 Steelers: Starters and players with significant snaps
Now looking at the two lists, 2012 had more players sharing the snaps. That is in large part due to injury. Even the carrousel of running back was more of a result of unhealthy starters week in and week out. But the overall cast and supporting cast were pretty much the same. And quite frankly, the ‘changes’ made from ’11 to ’12 were for the better. Replacing penalty prone Chris Kemoeatu with a ‘healthier’ Willie Colon was an improvement. The jury (that is made up of just me) is still out about getting rid of Hines Ward in ’12. FB Will Johnson was a huge improvement in the pure Full Back position. All in all, the 2012 offense was in better shape personnel’wise than they were in ’11 when they had the better record.
Even though the ’12 Steelers finished over 20th in just about every category in yardage and points, that was in large part due to them not being able to finish drives in the red zone (or near it). Their rank also began to plummet when halfway through the season, when they went to converting over 50% of third downs to barely 30%. So is ‘talent’ a reason why the Steelers couldn’t break the plan of the goal line once they breached the 30 yard line? Is ‘talent’ also a reason why there was a sudden drop in efficiency? I believe that is a direct result of coaching and game management and NOT talent of the players. Sure, there are dropped passes, poorly executed blocks, or errant throws from time to time that prevent sustainable drives. But, as I mentioned before, there are systemic problems that exist that point to things other than ‘talent.’
Of course, there are ‘talent’ issues on the team that did hurt it offensively. The biggest and most glaring is Mike Wallace’s inability to run routes that makes him a multi threat receiver. In fact his superb ‘talent’ of being so fast hindered the offense since that was the only thing he could do. Being a one-trick pony is a result of ‘talent.’
I think what Colbert (and as I stated in my last post) is trying to gear us up for is a bunch of high priced vets about to go out the door, and that we should be prepared for this exchange of ‘talent.’ This current roster is not an 8-8 roster. How many of us have thought or said out loud that this team was just a few plays away from being a 10+ win team? I know I was one, and I think huge roster moves would be a mistake – although with the current cap it’s probably unavoidable. This also completely absolves the coaches and the poor job Tomlin and Haley both did in prepping the team for victory. That doesn’t make me or many of us in Steeler Nation happy.
So just call it is what it is, Kevin.