The Around The League crew will follow Mike Tomlin anywhere, including into the voting booth. The Steelers have an aging defense, are paper-thin in the backfield and at tight end and lack a receiving weapon to draw double teams now that Mike Wallace is in Miami. No matter. Tomlin’s troops will ascend to their rightful throne in the AFC North.
While Wesseling does not give any specific reasons why the Steelers will “ascend” to the top of the AFC North, I would be downright happy if the team overcame their issues and won the division. For Tomlin to achieve “Coach of the Year” honors though, he will have to put together and oversee arguably the worst team he’s had at his disposal since he took over as head coach back in 2007.
As Wesseling described above, the Steelers have to deal with a litany of pressing issues this fall.
Their running back corps is collectively hobbled and populated by “specialty backs,” their wide receiving corps must find ways to replace Mike Wallace, and their red zone offense and running game could sputter without Heath Miller. Worst of all though, the team’s offensive tackles Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams did little during preseason play to prove that they were competent enough to protect Pittsburgh’s best current player on a consistent basis.
On defense, the lack of experienced depth at positions like cornerback, safety, and inside linebacker are definite causes for concern. Moreover, one has to wonder how healthy that veterans like Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark, Larry Foote, LaMarr Woodley, and Brett Keisel can stay in 2013 to boot.
While their are teams around the league with far less promising situations than the Steelers and Tomlin have on their plates now, Pittsburgh is heading into 2013 with these “not-so-quick fix” problems. It also did not help the Steelers either to see Cincinnati, Baltimore, and even Cleveland improve from personnel standpoints during the spring and summer months either.
If Tomlin can lead his team to a playoff berth however, then I could definitely see him being in the mix for some awards when the current season comes to a close. As a team in transition, the Steelers are considered by many to not be a playoff caliber team. Thus, if Tomlin can help to get things back on track for them and even win a January game or two, him and his coaching staff deserve all sorts of positive accolades.
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