Often times in life, our darkest days lead to brighter tomorrows. Right now, Pittsburgh seems to be in its darkest of football days, as the Steelers failed to make the playoffs despite having one of the most talented rosters in the season.
Perhaps rightfully so, as everything that could go wrong for the Steelers came to fruition at some point in the season. Whether it be Chris Boswell’s season long miscues, officiating blunders, or Le’Veon Bell not showing up (along with their offense and defense throughout the season), 2018 appeared to be destined for a drawback of some fashion.
When the Steelers were sitting at 7-2-1, nobody in or outside the city of Pittsburgh would have imagined this team sitting outside of the playoff picture. Yet after losing their last 4/6 games by an average margin of four points, it was apparent we were far removed from the 13-3 Steelers team we witnessed a season ago.
There’s no side-stepping the under-achieving that took place not only for 2018, but for nearly the last decade as well. Since their 2010 Super Bowl appearance, Pittsburgh has won a mere three playoff games since that time. When talking big picture, that simply is unacceptable.
Mike Tomlin is well aware of that, and in his end of season press conference, he addressed those issues head on.
“Change is a part of this, particularly when you are having press conferences like today… Our staff doesn’t run away from that. I’m acknowledging that change is a part of where we’re headed. And I’m open to it because I’m not interested in doing this [again next year].”
For a coach that has been ridiculed to the highest extents for not setting the tone as a leader in the locker room, Tomlin appeared adamant that changes were to be made in order to right the ship. Those changes began Friday, when the team announced long time Steelers linebacker and positional coach Joey Porter was relieved of his duties. Porter received a lot of criticism for his failure to develop players at the linebacker position, while also carrying the stigma of a “players guy” rather than a coach.
The firing of Porter shows a few different things. First off, Tomlin is already making good on his word of change. For a coach that speaks with great passion, his actions have not always followed suit. Secondly, the door has now been open for more change within the coaching staff, as Danny Smith (special teams coordinator) and Keith Butler (defensive coordinator) are also favored to hit the road at some point in the off-season as well.
On the field, change will likely be seen as well, although the player portion is more unpredictable. Will Pittsburgh hang on to the likes of Artie Burns, Chris Boswell and Marcus Gilbert? What does Bud Dupree’s future hold? Le’Veon Bell has potentially played his last game in a Steelers uniform, and Antonio Brown just may have joined him as well, although that remains a stretch in itself.
These changes are some that fans have been pounding the table for, for quite a long time. Would the vibrant tone of change be alive had the Steelers snuck into the playoffs? It’s an argument that NFL Network’s Aditi Kinkhabwala reports many inside the organization believe would not have happened, if not for missing the playoffs:
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) January 3, 2019
There’s a definite movement for change within the Steelers organization. While Pittsburgh fell short of their goals this season, the changes to be made could lift them to new levels in 2019. The 2018 season can be given any assortment of adjectives, whether it be tumultuous or even flat-out embarrassing. While those descriptions certainly fall in line with the narrative, the Steelers may look back on 2018 and see it differently than most: A blessing in disguise.
No Guaranteed Money in Dwayne Haskins’ Low-Risk Steelers Contract
Further details of quarterback Dwayne Haskins’ new contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers have emerged, demonstrating just how low-risk the acquisition is for the club.
According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Haskins’ Reserve/Future contract with the Steelers is a one-year, $850,000 deal with no guaranteed money.
No bells or whistles to Dwayne Haskins' reserve/future deal with the Steelers: 1-year, $850K, 0 guarantees.— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 26, 2021
He's got plenty of money still due from WFT.
This was all about fit for Haskins, with a good chance to develop in Pittsburgh, while the Steelers take a zero risk flier.
Simply put, the Steelers will not be on the hook for any money if they decide to part ways further down the line. If Haskins turns out to be a diamond in the rough for Pittsburgh, they will have acquired him on a tremendous bargain.
Haskins is not getting a raw deal financially either, as he is still being paid on his four-year, $14,416,611 rookie deal with Washington. Signing with the Steelers gives him an opportunity to prove himself with a steady organization without worrying about the financial implications.
A first round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Ohio State, Haskins was waived by Washington in late December after the young quarterback was photographed maskless at a strip club, in clear violation of the league’s COVID-19 protocols and mid-pandemic common sense.
Haskins was shaky over two seasons in Washington, passing for 12 touchdowns with 14 interceptions, while completing just over 60% of his passes.
The Steelers are hoping Haskins can flash the talent he showed in his final season at Ohio State, where he completed 70% of his passes for 4,831 yards with 50 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. He finished third in Heisman Trophy voting in 2018.
By signing Haskins to such a low-risk, team-friendly contract, Pittsburgh will have an excellent opportunity to determine if some of that talent is still there.
Report: Steelers Interviewing Mike Sullivan for QB Coach Vacancy
The Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly interviewing Mike Sullivan for their quarterbacks coach vacancy, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac.
A 17-year coaching veteran at the NFL level, Sullivan was most recently the quarterbacks coach for the Denver Broncos in 2018. He also has previous experience as an offensive coordinator with the New York Giants (2016-17) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2012-12).
Sullivan is currently the Director of Recruiting at his alma mater Army, a position he has held since March of last year.
Sullivan would also bring additional championship pedigree to the Steelers, having won Super Bowls XLII and XLVI with the Giants.
Former Giants quarterback Eli Manning had one of the best seasons of his career in 2011 under Sullivan, passing for a career-high 4,933 yards and 29 touchdowns.
The Steelers are looking to fill the void left by Matt Canada, who was officially promoted to offensive coordinator on Monday.
The Steelers are talking to Mike Sullivan, a long-time former offensive coordinator/QB coach with the NY Giants and Denver Broncos, about becoming their QB coach, per source.— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) January 26, 2021
Mic Drop: Rooting for Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell Is Easy Choice
The idea that either Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell will become a Super Bowl champion after Super Bowl LV isn’t exactly something that makes Steelers fans excited for the big game. With that said, Mike Asti feels deciding who to root for should be an easy choice for Steelers fans. He wants to set the record straight once and for all of why Pittsburgh fans need to stop grouping the two former Steelers together.
While they both left the franchise in a cloud of drama, Le’Veon Bell doesn’t deserve to be treated as if he committed the same kind of sins against the Steelers that Antonio Brown did.