The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2016 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Never the less, 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: David DeCastro
Position: Right Guard
Experience: 5 Years
No player for the Steelers outside of Antonio Brown has received more accolades over the course of the past two seasons than has fifth-year starting right guard David DeCastro, who has made the Pro Bowl in each of the past two years and the All-Pro list twice, though he was only a second-team All-Pro for the 2016 season.
It was a curious year for the former first-round draft pick. His surprising number of penalties—and the fact that he signed a fat new contract—I think really colored the view of many on his overall performance, which I do believe was worthy of the Pro Bowl this year, particularly as he improved down the stretch after having some struggles early on.
There has become expected from DeCastro a certain level of performance that is now taken for granted and is perhaps not given its proper credit. He is one of the better guards in the league when it comes to pulling, without a doubt, and many of the Steelers’ best runs have featured him doing just that.
His work in pass protection this year toward the end of the season had been perhaps his cleanest of his career, particularly with respect to deftly picking up stunts. He lost some individual battles, as all linemen do, but he has come a long way as a pass blocker since his rookie season.
I have a hard time viewing DeCastro’s extremely high number of penalties during the 2016 season anything other than an aberration, and I expect that to be resolved in 2017. Accusations of him phoning it in because he got paid, I would like to add, are unfair and unwarranted.
The Steelers know that they have at least three fifths, if not four fifths, of their offensive line of the future that may serve as a bridge from one quarterback to the next, depending on how much mileage is left on the current one.
It is certainly no coincidence that the team set rushing records and, if not for a meaningless regular-season finale, would have given up the fewest sacks in franchise history—and only two in three postseason games. This could be the best line they’ve ever had. And DeCastro is one of the best on that last.