The Pittsburgh Steelers would be well served to set and stick to a few resolutions for 2019. I just happen to have a few to suggest, so here goes:
- Cut the cord with AB. He was the best at his position in his prime, and is still one of a few in the league who can do what he does at his level, but he simply is not worth the drama. The capologists can figure out the best time to trade AB, the NFL’s cap rules are ridiculous to follow, but the Steelers should deal AB when that time comes and move on from his train before it falls completely off it’s aging and well-worn tracks.
- Stop ignoring the truth. Scapegoats like Joey Porter only serve to distract Steelers Nation from the depth of the problems with the Steelers coaching staff. Keith Butler is not a good defensive coordinator, Tom Bradley is not a good defensive backs coach, and Mike Tomlin’s best days, like AB’s, are behind him. And is Joey Porter to blame for Bud DuPree? Please. DuPree was a bad pick from the start – like Jarvis Jones before him – and will not develop under any position coach. Who gets the credit for TJ Watt’s progression? Porter? I guess not. Don’t forget, it was Porter who advocated starting Watt over James Harrison in 2017, and it was Porter who made the single biggest contribution to a Steelers’ playoff win by a coach when he walked on the field in Cincinnati and goaded Pacman Jones into one of the all-time dumbest penalties in league history. Don’t get me wrong, I am not championing Joey Porter, but his departure won’t even ripple the pond. Porter’s firing might be more about Art Rooney II flexing some muscle and sending a wake-up call to his head coach – to suggest that Tomlin is not sovereign – but it masks the real problem.
- Upgrade the players on defense. How obvious does this seem? Well, I wonder. The Steelers’ response to this last year was to sign Jon Bostic (he played inside linebacker, in case you didn’t notice his average contribution) and some guy who barely played in the secondary, and really couldn’t cover anybody when he did. Morgan Burnett, or something like that. They also flip-flopped DuPree and Watt. That move was good for Watt, but was supposed to jump-start DuPree. It failed. I hate the term, “splash plays.” As with most Tomlinisms, it avoids the truth, but the Steelers did not have nearly enough big plays on defense. The splash-play mindset suggests that big plays are turnovers, but big plays on defense are more about getting off of the field on third down when the game hangs in the balance, or keeping a team in long down and distance situations in the same scenarios. The Steelers could not do this with any consistency in 2018, and 2019 will be worse unless the Steelers upgrade the players on defense.
- Prepare for the future. Erin loves to throw around the word, “anticipatory,” and sweetly reminds me when my typical male brain forgets to think ahead. The Steelers need to heed Erin’s sage advice and prepare for a future without a top flight quarterback and an aging offensive line. Time has this pesky habit of not asking permission before stripping elite athletes of their elitism – it just goes. If Mason Rudolph is not Ben’s heir apparent, they need to get to work finding one. It’s another reason to move on from AB, as well. As great as AB and Ben have been together the past 8 seasons, the Steelers have not played in a single Super Bowl in that time, so what makes anyone think not moving on from AB and insulting Sir Roethlisberger by having his replacement in tow will keep the 2019 Steelers out of the Super Bowl?
- Change the culture of the team. Good luck with that. Tomlin will stay, so will the current culture of talking big, throwing around silly cliches and underachieving. Consider that the 2019 season preview. You’re welcome.
- What exactly did the Penguins do with Matt Murray during his “absence?” Did they find a way to channel an in his prime Martin Brodeur into Murray’s brain and body? Was it a Frankenstein-like procedure? Patrick Roy’s lateral movement, Grant Fuhr’s glove hand, Dominik Hasek’s flare for the dramatic and Martin Brodeur’s goaltending IQ and, under a stream of thunder and lightning, a maniacal Jim Rutherford donned a wig resembling Doc. Brown in Back to the Future and wielded scalpels and forceps and suture makers (whatever they are called) to piece together the New Matt Murray – Goaliestein!
- Welcome to the ACC. I doubt that is what Roy Williams actually said to Jeff Capel in the handshake line immediately following Pitt’s 85-60 loss to North Carolina in their ACC opener. Listen, Pitt fans should be excited about the future of Pitt basketball, but not the very immediate future. It will take some time for Pitt to be truly competitive against the top teams in the ACC, but Capel has the program pointed north and the days of 25-point losses to ACC foes should become fewer and further between.