Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers: Maintaining Status Quo Means Mediocrity Will Reign Supreme


I hate to be the person who takes the steaming dump in Steeler Nation’s metaphorical ‘apple pie,’ but 16-16 is the definition of ‘mediocrity.’

Now I understand that there are some franchises around the league whose fans would be thrilled to see their team go through a 32-game stretch like that. The Pittsburgh Steelers have not been that type of franchise since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

If the Steelers’ brass are fine with the current road to mediocrity which their franchise is on, then that’s super. If they’re content to keep the status quo which has been responsible for .500 play over a two season stretch with little help in sight, then that’s fine too.

The first thing which the franchise can do to improve their future fortunes is to fire offensive coordinator Todd Haley post-haste.

Now I know that all of Haley’s supporters will crow about him ‘discovering the no-huddle offense’ and his offensive line being ‘makeshift’ this season.

This is particularly funny to me, especially since I didn’t see all of you Arians-haters pissing and moaning about him dealing with the likes of Sean Mahan, Justin Hartwig, Darnell Stapleton, Johnathan Scott, Chris Kemoeatu, Willie Colon playing out of position and a broken-down Marvel Smith for most of his tenure.

Heck, Pittsburgh’s offense helped the team win one Super Bowl and another AFC Championship with offensive lines which featured those players.

Was I Arians’ biggest fan when he was in town? Heck no. Yet his offense and offensive scheme were responsible for Ben Roethlisberger’s most productive seasons. Moreover, the Steelers made the postseason in four of the five years he was the team’s offensive coordinator. Heck, the offense saved the defense’s bacon in Super Bowl XLIII after Dick LeBeau’s supposedly vaunted unit blew a 13-point fourth quarter lead.

It would be nice to see this front office do their signal-caller a favor and hire someone who has his best interests, as well as the best interests of the offense in mind. Pittsburgh ranked 20th in total offense this season and 16th in total points, and this is a season after the unit ranked 21st in total offense and 22nd in total points. If you ask me, that’s mediocrity at its finest.

Of course, Haley leaving will not happen and the status quo will remain intact.

Instead, we’ll be treated to another season of Haley, his multiple tight end packages in which two or three of them have no play-making value whatsoever, an over-insistence on establishing the run early and an aversion to using more athletic play-makers (Markus Wheaton, Derek Moye, etc.).

As far as the defensive side of the ball is concerned, maybe it is time for a change as well.

Although it is sad to say, longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau might be better off retiring. His defensive scheme has been mercilessly exploited by pedestrian signal-callers during the last two seasons, and losses to inferior opponents and offenses have not made things any easier to stomach.

The lack of takeaways (55 over last three seasons), the inability to collapse the pocket consistently (T-25th, 34.0 sacks), the success which opponents have enjoyed moving the ball (13th total yards allowed) and the inability to stop oponents from scoring (23.1 PPG, 14th) has been maddening to watch.

Moreover, the notion that rookies must sit, regardless of whether or not they are better than the veterans, needs to end as well. Guys like Keenan Lewis and Jason Worilds should not be forced to sit for most of their rookie contracts and collect splinters on the bench. LeBeau’s aversion to inserting rookies in the lineup, even in complementary roles, has hurt this franchise over the last half decade and it will continue to hurt the Steelers until a change in that philosophy is made.

Oh and did I mention that LeBeau’s supposedly awesome unit was torched for 316 passing yards by Tim Tebow the last time Pittsburgh made the playoffs as well?


Final Thoughts

This article is not intended to put only LeBeau and Haley on the chopping block. Pittsburgh’s coaches, Mike Tomlin included, and the rest of their roster need to be put on notice for their recent struggles too.

Of course, if Pittsburgh’s front office is fine with watching their team muddle in mediocrity, then they can do whatever they please. It is their franchise, and they will always make money regardless of how competent the product they put on the field actually is.

Nevertheless, if necessary changes are not made to improve this team to get them out of the doldrums over the next two seasons, then we could be treated to an unsavory and mediocre era of Steelers football.




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Tags: Dick Lebeau Pittsburgh Steelers Todd Haley

  • Carl Eagan

    Getting rid of Tomlin would immediately upgrade the team but unfortunately it would also hurt the team. Because unless the Rooney’s decide to bring in another amateur who would keep the current staff a competent coach would want to bring in his own system and people which would set the team back. However with the player turn over that may not be a bad thing.

    • Rick Eger

      Are you a fan or a wise @ss?

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  • Kirby Hogenmiller

    I agree that changes should be made. But I really don’t want the Steelers to end up being like the Browns a franchise that fires coaches all the time.

    • Dom DiTolla

      Neither do I, but changes must be made. Yet keep in mind that the Steelers cycled through Ray Sherman (’98) and Kevin Gilbride (’99-’00) before they settled on Mike Mularkey as their OC after Chan Gailey left for Dallas in 1997.

      Moreover, they axed Donahoe after the 1999 season in favor of Colbert. Although the Steelers pride themselves on not making numerous changes for the sake of change, they did correct plenty of mistakes until they got things right during their last rebuilding period.

      • Rick Eger

        I bet Hayley gets at least another year.

        • Dom DiTolla

          Then another 8-8 season is on the horizon.

  • Miguel

    If haley stays the sould give Ben the oportunity to go wherever he wants to.
    This thing has been already a bad dream, but the Rooneys can transform this into a nightmare.

    • Rick Eger

      Last I heard Ben wanted too stay in Pittsburgh?

    • Rick Eger

      No the nightmare is in Houston and Atlanta and Washington.

  • myrique21

    If Ben is happy with the offense, leave it alone. The last thing they need to do is start over again. They finished very good which is what we should focus on. It’s not like Bradshaw went straight to the Super Bowl year after year. It took them four years from the time he was drafted. Plus, there was no free agency back then. The team as it stands will be great in the future. Mainly, because we got to see our youth get game time reps.

    • Dom DiTolla

      Ben would’ve been a lot happier with the offense had the Rooneys kept Arians around or hired Fichtner. I’m not advocating that they should start over, but they could stand to hire an offensive coordinator who has a better rapport with Big Ben, and will be willing to use personnel (Wheaton, Moye, etc.) to make his offense more explosive.

      Moreover, how much playing time will Williams and Garvin stand to lose when Foote returns from his injury? How much playing time will Shamarko Thomas and Robert Golden see if Will Allen comes back?

      • myrique21

        The the offense put up plenty of points this season. Our defense couldn’t hold it. How long do you think Ben would have survived in Arians offense? He held the ball way to long in that offense. And also threw to many bubble screens. Ben said he love the offense he has now and he and Todd Haley are doing fine. The media created the problem! As for Larry Foote; I doubt they keep him with the youth we have. As of late, this defense has been good. A lot of potential in the future. We were a team in transition and now we are ready!

        • Dom DiTolla

          Still a team in transition and will continue to be unless necessary changes are made.

          Also, Ben was sacked the same number of times (72) in 2012 and 2013 as he was during the last two years Arians was in town. Thus, don’t sell me on any nonsense that Big Ben’s survival was contingent upon Arians leaving. The team is even more bubble screen happy under Haley, so I’m not sure what games you’ve been watching.

          Keep drinking the Haley Kool-aid though, and LeBeau will always turn to his calcified veterans unless he has no choice due to injuries. I just hope that you’ll grow accustomed to 8-8 records, because that is what this team will be posting until things change.

          • myrique21

            Well, if your cool with changing every year; be prepared to be like the Browns, Dolphins, Jets. Pretty much all the teams that are not close to being viable. I hope for the sake of the team; the Rooneys don’t start listening to impatient fans. They have six Lombardi’s; I’m sure they know what there doing. Or would you rather have Jerry Jones?

          • Dom DiTolla

            Guess you don’t remember the years ’98-’00 when they changed OCs three times, had to hire a new DC and hired a new GM to get through the rebuilding process and improve their football team.

            16-16 the last two seasons is exactly what this team is, and they will continue to be a .500 team if the necessary changes aren’t made.

            I’ve never said that this team needs a complete and total facelift, but changes are necessary to make this franchise (and all NFL franchises) better when they go through rebuilding stretches.

            Don’t call everybody who wants changes ‘impatient’ either. I simply do not want to see this franchise sit idly by and watch teams around the league continue to improve over the coming seasons.

          • Rick Eger

            Tell us about it know it all, the team looked pretty good in the 2nd. half.

          • Dom DiTolla

            Beat two playoff teams down the stretch & lost to the likes of Miami and Baltimore.

          • Rick Eger

            Maybe the reason they needed a new 99 is because Chan Gailey was hired by the Dallas Cowboys as their Head coach. Assistant coaches move up sometimes.

          • Dom DiTolla

            Yet Sherman, hired in 1998, and Gilbride hire in 1999 and fired after the 2000 campaign were axed due to their incompetence. Team didn’t find right choices until Mularkey, Whisenhunt, then Arians.

          • Rick Eger

            Change isn’t the Steeler way.

          • myrique21

            Thank you! I agree!!! Happy New Year!

          • Rick Eger

            Drinking the Kool Aid a reference too the Jim Jones, Guyana tragedy how clever and witty. And so over used!

          • Rick Eger

            The entire league’s bubble screen happy.

          • Dom DiTolla

            So why is Arians criticized for it and Haley isn’t?

        • Rick Eger

          Sounds good too me.

      • Rick Eger

        Lets wait and see?

    • Rick Eger

      Bradshaw was completely lost the 1st. five seasons. The defense and Franco Harris won Super Bowl lx.

  • CPOSharkey

    I agree Haley needs to go but Tomlin’s lack of ability to decisively make the call on Haley also no puts Tomlin back in play! That’s how I see it anyway.

  • Guest

    What we’re seeing now has more to do with how the front office backloads contracts than coaching deficiencies. Every time the Steelers are capped up against the wall, they’ll restructure one of their higher paid players and give them their contract in signing bonuses to pro-rate the contract to the life of their
    contract making releasing an older player not financially feasible. The Steelers’ chickens are coming-home to

    • Rick Eger

      Then we need a bigger coop.

  • Jack Bone

    I agree with this story 100%. You are dead on.

  • Rick Eger

    Marvel Smith was a very good left tackle…