The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2017 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Nevertheless, what must be done must be done, and we are now at the time of the year where we close the book on one season and look ahead to the next.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2016 season.
Player: Stephon Tuitt
Position: Defensive End
Experience: 4 Years
Stephon Tuitt did not have the season that he had planned for himself in year four just after signing a massive new contract extension as he entered the final year of his rookie contract. And it is easy to wonder how much of that was shaped very early on when he suffered an arm injury on just the second play of the season.
It was initially feared that Tuitt might have torn a triceps muscle or suffered a similarly significant injury that would have put him on injured reserve for the remainder of the year after just two snaps, but he and the team dodged a bullet, as he was able to play through it.
He missed the next two games while healing from that injury and returned to play the next three games, in which he was more impactful than the actual statistical production might indicate, but he suffered a back injury in that third game back, which resulted in him being shelved for another two games, leading into their bye week.
While he returned in the second half of the season and remained on the field for all nine games, including the postseason, he didn’t look quite as sharp as was expected. He did have his first two sacks of the season in those first two games of the second half of the year (and he also had two other sacks that were negated by penalties), but he had just three sacks and 25 tackles on the season.
That might sound like a borderline horrendous year, but the truth is that he did a lot more than it looks like, particularly against the pass. The problem, which is one that has existed for a while now, is that he had issues finishing plays, both against the run and while rushing the passer, not being able to make the tackle, though often allowing others to do so.
As one indicator of that, Tuitt was actually the seventh-highest graded 3-4 interior defender in the league for Pro Football Focus, grading well both against the run and the pass. He was credited with 40 pressures, though he missed five tackles in their statistics.