All We Want For Christmas Is A Steelers Mulligan

By Michael K. Reynolds

By the time the Pittsburgh Steelers play against the Green Bay Packers they will have a good chance of already being eliminated from the playoffs.

Even with some help from others and a victory over the Packers it will only cause further indigestion over Christmas dinner for the Terrible Towel waiving faithful as a playoff berth will almost surely be in the land of Sugar Plum Fairies.

Which brings us to our Christmas wishlist. A Steelers Mulligan. Another shot at taking back a play or two in several of the games this season. The Emmanuel Sanders drop against the Baltimore Ravens. The dusting of sideline powder on Antonio Brown‘s shoes against the Miami Dolphins. The rare couple of shank jobs by Shaun Suisham versus the Oakland Raiders. Choose you pick. This really was a season of inches due to the AFC mediocrity.

But since Steelers fans will most likely be left with coal in their stockings for Christmas, it’s not too early to explore exactly what went wrong with this season. No matter how you look at it, a 6-8 record is clearly below all lines.

Here are the top five reasons in my book:

1. Not Taking The Off-Season Seriously.
It was obvious the 2012 version of the Pittsburgh Steelers who finished with an 8-8 record were in need of a major overhaul. But instead, only crickets were heard in the front office. You only need to look at a player like Fernando Velasco to know smart shoppers can make a huge impact on their teams in the off-season. Hopefully lessons will be learned and a more aggressive approach will be taken in 2014.

2. Underestimating The CBA
The Steelers have always trumpeted the importance of a great draft and the development of their own players. Unfortunately, the times have changed. The collective bargaining agreement of the NFL has made the players more frequently seen in shorts than pads for practice. The off-season has become a joke and the idea that you can develop players into Pro-Bowlers through mini-camp is a strategy of the past. This is a microwave world now in the NFL. You need your players ready to perform and you must plan accordingly.

3. Injury Shock
How many times have we heard this season from players and coaches that the injury to Maurkice Pouncey left them flabbergasted and forced to shelf most of their plans for their offense. First of all, Pouncey already had a history of being injury-prone, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. But forging an offensive strategy based on any ONE player other than the quarterback is foolish. It shouldn’t have taken the Steelers an 0-4 record to shake off the Pouncey injury.

4. Player Mis-Evaluation
Marcus Gilbert at left tackle. Then Mike Adams at left tackle. Levi Brown at left tackle. While your best guy, Kelvin Beachum is gathering splinters. Ziggy Hood starting while Cameron Heyward watches idly by. Punter fiascoes. Over-inflated expectations for Jarvis JonesSharmarko Thomas and Markus WheatonIsaac Redman as starting running back. Felix Jones as number two and kickoff returner. Jonathan Dwyer released. Then brought back only to be grossly underused. Many point to the injury of Le’Veon Bell as being one of the key reasons for the Steelers slow start. I would contend that if Dwyer was given the starting job and some support from his coaches there would have been little impact. Sadly, Dwyer’s full value will probably be realized by another team in the future.

5. Aging Blindness
When broadcasters unfamiliar to the Steelers roster give reasons for the team’s demise, they often point to age across the board. But this isn’t entirely true. The Steelers roster has gotten much younger, particularly on offense, and in many spots on defense. However; where we have aged, we’ve done it in dramatic fashion. The Steelers secondary has deteriorated greatly over the year and the decision not to aggressively pursue resigning Keenan Lewis may set the team back several years in pass coverage.

What about you? What do you think were the main causes of the Steelers poor showing this year?

About the Author

Michael K. Reynolds

Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers fanatic and author of the acclaimed Heirs of
Ireland series.

  • RW

    Spot on.

  • stairman

    you couldnt drive a f250 through our O line, still cant. I dont care who is running the ball. Thank God they started with the short passes to make up for it. Need better blocking next year.

  • Elijah Stevenson

    All I want for Christmas is to c the ravens not go to the playoffs, if we dummy go they don’t go and that will make me happy just knowing that they r also suffering

  • Robert Alaniz

    I agree except for the Ziggy comment. He is probably the best lineman against the rush we have and we he is out, its felt. The only thing Ziggy hasnt brought is pressure and even that is starting to increase a little.

    If we don’t bring him back and he is willing to come back at a good price, it will be felt next year.

  • johnhoien

    Great blog.. Very accurate. I was so irritated w/ staff not using Dwyer in the first four games.. Keenin should have been signed… If we are giving Jarvis the rookie snaps… Should have started Heyward sooner… Need to be quicker earlier in the season… Dick L. … Nice man , great coach…. But if anyone misses another tackle , I’m opening a can of whoop! The sloppiest tackling I’ve ever seen from steelers. Next years D moto should be kill the QB and tackle the freakin catch! Todd let Ben run no huddle almost every game in the opening drive… Mike T please start taking the opening kick off and stop deferring… K , besides that we should be in the playoffs 10 times this season.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Your #4 and #5 comments are right on the money IMO. Player mis-evaluation is something that cannot be over stated. I knew in his 2nd year Heyward was clearly better then Hood. The funny thing is Felix Jones is still the #2 HB and a KR. Not sure if I ever seen Felix even look to make a decent run back on KR’s yet he is the man back there every game. It confuses me.

  • walter mason

    Ziggy is not best at anything except workng out.

  • Robert Alaniz

    I suggest you conduct your due diligence and not read headlines. Ziggy is very good against the run. last year he was right there with Kiesel in tackles. This year before he was benched, he was going to shatter his tackles total for last year. the team wanted more pressure on the QB and he was benched.

    How did we do against the run versus Miami after Hood went out during the first Quarter of that game?

    Our problem against the run isnt Ziggy.

  • Don

    #4 definitely.

  • So you are using tackles, a stat which is hardly telling and which he gets about 1.5 per game, as your judgement of Ziggy’s effectiveness against the run? And then to justify the comparison, you are comparing a supposed up and coming first round pick to an aging vet past his prime? You want to know how effective tackles is as a run stopping metric? This year Ziggy has more tackles despite having started less than half the games than he did last year. As far as shattering last years tackles total, in the first 5 games before he got benched, we gave up an average of 114.8 rushing yards per game. Those tackles weren’t making much impact.

    Heyward, in his first partial year as a starter, is having an all around better year than Ziggy ever has. Why? Because he is a better DL, plain and simple.

    I do agree that Ziggy should be resigned on the cheap if we can get him, he is a solid depth guy. But Heyward should have been starting over him all season long. That was clear in the preseason.

  • DrakePirate

    Many deserving well written points … I especially agree with #1 … we didn’t address the off-season well at all, and had almost no depth on the OL … I hope we don’t make the same mistake again this year and try to be a little more aggressive during the Off-season . I’m not saying that we change our philosophy of building thru the draft, but a little tweak here and there could do wonders to build a stronger team !!


    Player Mis-Evaluation. Player Mis-Evaluation. Player Mis-Evaluation. Player Mis-Evaluation. Player Mis-Evaluation. Player Mis-Evaluation. Player Mis-Evaluation. Player Mis-Evaluation. Player Mis-Evaluation. Player Mis-Evaluation. Player Mis-Evaluation. Player Mis-Evaluation.

  • Kris Gusto Williams

    Thanks.. You saved my from typing this.

  • Robert Alaniz

    Cam is not better against the run guy, im sorry to report to you. Cam is getting great pressure however, he is not as good against the run yet as he has admitted himself.

  • I’m sorry to report that all I said was tackles are a horrible metric for run stopping, and that Cam is a better overall player. Both are true.

  • I’m honestly not sure what role Felix actually fills except to take carries from Dwyer and hold a spot for a hopefully healthy LSH.