It only took several days, but the main pundits in the local Pittsburgh media outlets are finally weighing in on this whole dumpster fire of a week for the Steelers locker room. Surprisingly, they took the kid gloves off and took players like Antonio Brown and Ryan Clark to task because they added huge tree trunks to a fire lit when Anonymous Player criticized LaMarr Woodley and his less than stellar season. I like Ed B’s remarks the most (yeah I know, even I head to check the author several times before I would believe it) because he alludes to the failed leadership in the locker room as part of the problem.
It’s true that leadership is about as absent from the Steelers locker room as an XL t-shirt in Casey Hampton’s closet. The evidence is all there – veteran leaders dismissed before the season begins, no one steps up prior to the season beginning, bumbling plays, and a playoff’less 8-8 record. And let me get one thing straight about this 8-8 record. People like Ed B say that if the Steelers were able to win a few more of those really close games and shift that 8-8 record to a winning one, then mouths stay shut. Well that might be true, but those wins were never there to be had, Ed. Due to the lack of leadership, the Steelers were not game ready for some of those easier matches. Due to the lack of leadership, the Steelers let teams like the Oakland Raiders stick around and take home the W in the end. Due to the lack of leadership, the Steelers fumbled, bumbled, and stumbled their way to that 8-8 season.
That is at the crux of the 8-8 Steelers – lack of leadership. From the players, to the assistant coaches, to the coordinators, to Mike Tomlin himself. No one grabbed the reigns and guided this team to its fullest potential. The sum of the blame falls upon Mike Tomlin. As head coach, it’s his responsibility to get everyone from the coaches to the players ready for each and every game. The ripple effect has begun. Three assistant coaches have left voluntarily for greener pastures. Of course no one can blame them for moving on to the next step in their career. But, no one ever left their current employment because they were too happy. I believe that three out of the four assistant coaches who are no longer part of the team (Amos Jones is the odd man out here) because they just didn’t want to be with the team anymore.
Scottie Montgomery is the prime example of that. As the WR coach, he’s had to deal with the Young Money Crew… yes deal with. Not work, deal with. The lack of effort. The bone headed plays (I think he lost count how many Antonio Brown had). The egos. And when would it get all better? It’s not his job to get the players attitudes, egos, and hearts in the right places. That’s completely up to the players, Mike Tomlin, and Kevin Colbert. How could Duke not look like the better option at this point?
The dots are there, and they are not all just random sequences of events. They are all connected and the line that connects them all is a lack of leadership. The poor decision to remove key leadership players like Farrior and Ward (especially Ward) will haunt the Steelers for the next few seasons. The poor decision of inaction on the part of the Steelers Brass and Tomlin when the air was let out of the ‘What the hell do we do next?’ balloon will haunt the Steelers for many years to come. Somebody better step up now to clean up this crap from the past week, and somebody better step up in that locker room.