Chadiha: Steelers Reclaiming Their Hard-Nosed Mentality

A year after turning around a 2-6 start to the 2013 season to end on a 6-2 run, it seems that many are ready and willing to jump on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ bandwagon this offseason.

The moves they’ve made in free agency and the draft—including a recently uncharacteristic willingness to part with former key players—has only strengthened their resolve.

Jeffri Chadiha of ESPN is among those who believe that the Steelers are on the rebound and just about ready to compete once again.

According to his recent article, this is because the front office, and the team as a whole, has woken up from their complacent slumber to realize that, in order to return to competitiveness, they must reclaim their identity as the nasty, hard-hitting collective ready to cram the ball down your throat or rip you to the ground.

Chadiha writes:

There are many reasons to explain why the Steelers haven’t made the playoffs since 2011, but the biggest is their personality: They’ve lost that physical edge that always made them so scary. A team that was long known for its ability to beat teams up both with a relentless running attack and a fierce defense had become too reliant on the arm of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. It also had succumbed to injuries and age, as inconsistency became all too common in the Steel City.

He goes on to say that “Pittsburgh’s offseason revealed that the front office isn’t blind to what has been happening”, citing moves such as the acquisition of LeGarrette Blount, the signing of Mike Munchak, and the drafting of Ryan Shazier and Stephon Tuitt as signs that the Steelers are moving toward getting back to what they do best. And he believes that they couldn’t afford to wait on these moves for much longer:

All these moves are critical because they speak to a sense of urgency. The Steelers were slipping into a rut that elite franchises can fall victim to if they’re not careful. The more they contended for championships in recent years, the more they lost sight of who they were fundamentally.

I don’t know that they were losing sight of who they were, per se. In fact, it could be argued that they were stuck on who they were in the past—as in, perhaps unreasonably holding together a championship roster that was now a shadow of its former self.

Consider just how many starters are gone from the 2010 season, the last time the Steelers competed for a Super Bowl. The entire defensive line is gone. Lawrence Timmons, the sole carryover among the linebackers. On the back end, Ike Taylor clings to a limb, while Troy Polamalu may have a few years remaining.

On offense, there’s Ben Roethlisberger, Heath Miller, and Maurkice Pouncey. Antonio Brown has emerged as a starter since then. The rest? All gone.

Regardless of how much of what Chadiha said is ultimately accurate, there’s no question that the Steelers required more of a jumpstart than usual. They seem to have been able to successfully turn over their roster this offseason, even if it takes a year for it to fully bloom and reach its potential.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • srdan

    I really like our offseason.

    I agree with him that it seems like the steelers are trying to invest in a hard nosed football team again. Our LBs and DL are pretty much all top 50 picks. That speaks volumes.

    One thing he could have added to his article is that while we are trying to get back to “steelers football”, the organization is not blind to where the NFL is going and the FO recognizes the need for situational football. I think the picks of Archer, Shazier and Bryant reflect this. Our offseason was a good mix of old school and new school.

    Good stuff.

  • steeltown

    I like the makeup of the new players on roster, from Bell to Blount, Mitchell and Shazier etc. these guys are very physical players with good heads on their shoulders. It remains to be seen the success we will have, but I like almost every move that has been made over the course of the last 2yrs

  • dkoy85

    I’m glad the young guys had the opportunity to fight through adversity and learn how to win last year. That should carry over to this year. I still think this team has a year before they become dominant and make a super bowl run again, but there still is the potential for things to come together this year as well. Another successful FA period and a good draft should push them into a top team in 2015.

  • 804Stiller

    Speed seems to be the dominant theme to me. Then, we can get back to rallying around the ball and gang tackling. But, like Butler said Porter was in his day, we need a new “Barnyard Boss.” That guy that not only “talks it” but “walks it” on the defensive side. I see a lot of those characteristics in Cam Heyward but we are used to it on the second level of the defense. I’m hoping one of the linebackers embraces that role. I guess that’s what Peezy will be looking to bring out of them……

  • dkoy85

    V Williams seems to me to be the guy that has the potential to “talk it.” Just wish he could be on the field for 3 downs.

  • Eric MacLaurin

    These guys will seem right because it was a fantastic offseason that will be followed by a significant playoff run but I get awful tired of the idea that the team was so bad. I honestly believe that if Pouncey and Foote were healthy all year the team would have been a superbowl contender. You can’t lose the middle of your offense and your defense in the first game and be expected to recover in a week. It took a month to recover after which they were arguably one of the top 5 teams in the NFL and on an upswing as the season ended.

    I contend that the team was elite for several years and tried to milk that window for as long as possible by focusing on need instead of rebuilding with new stars. I think the focus now is on better players to build around instead of players that fit the old stars.


    19-0, Baby!

  • cencalsteeler

    Hard to argue with Chadihas comments. I do agree with you Matt, too, in regards to the Steelers holding onto the Super Bowl team too long as part of the problem.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    Look, the team over the past two years were affected by injuries and near misses. When Ben got injured in ’12, it threw everything off. Remember, they started out strong that year. Last year, Woodley really hurt their defense when getting hurt. They dumped salaries and have rebuilt depth. I would love them to take a run at Finley with an incentive-laden deal. But they have saved money. Sign Pouncey and C. Allen, and let the team develop. Mark my words, this team will be far better in December then in September.

  • Steve

    Its nice to have a mix of young guys with some vets but the FO did keep some players around too long. When a guy is hurt and is makin good money just because the legacy of the past, we cannot afford to keep him on the roster and let good players slip though our fingers and sign with other teams.

  • Steve

    Biggest mistake that was made last year was to renegotiate Woodleys contract but hopefully the FO has learned from this.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    … and not signing Keenan Lewis. I think the organization is good about making changes per the current NFL make-up. I also think they took 2012 to have their older team perform… then when 2013 was somewhat of a repeat, they then reacted. And to your point, I loathe contract renegotiations. I think let a player play through his contract and that’s it.

  • Steve

    This is why Ben need to playout his current contract. Last year was the first in year he was able to play the whole season. Just takes one good shot and they are done. Lewis was a big loss by the FO, know he wanted to play in NO, to keep Lewis over Ike was a mistake. My point exactly on keeping the old and letting the young go.

  • Steeler Fanatic

    I think the team wants to see back-to-back years of Ben playing within the system AND being healthy… if he’s not, the Steelers can re-evaluate where they stand a year from now.

  • CBLater

    I think this is how people who don’t follow the Steelers churn out an easy article. I mean, seriously, how easy is it for journalists to mindlessly regurgitate the same tired narrative about Pittsburgh over and over again? It such a blue collar town blah blah. There’s a long tradition of running blah blah. Physical physical physical blah blah. This was lazy, bad writing by someone on a deadline.