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?
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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