Tag Archives: Carolina Panthers

Rebuild vs. Reboot: Did the Steelers Do It the Hard Way?

AP photo/Mike McCarn

Part 1

Although it was stoutly denied by all parties who should know, in retrospect it seems pretty clear the Steelers went through a gradual rebuilding process that began around 2012 and may or may not be over, depending on how you look at it.

There are lots of different ways to do this, naturally. A lot of people thought the Steelers should just clean house. Clear out the older players (presumably except for Ben), take the pain in a couple of massive doses, and voila, you’re back to the Super Bowl!

The Steelers owners and coaching staff aren’t big fans of losing games, and also don’t appear to be fans of wholesale purging of players. Instead they chose the gradual road. They managed to get through the process (or most of it—I think there is a reasonable argument that the defensive backfield is the last stage in the rebuild) without ever having a losing season.

During this time we have seen several example of teams who did it differently.  We will look at what they did and how successful it was, and eventually compare the various outcomes to how the Steelers went about their own process.

The first is the Carolina Panthers, who just went to the Super Bowl. In 2010 they were the worst team in the league.

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How Close Were the Steelers to a Championship: Defense

USA Today Sports/Jason Bridge photo

Now that the actual Super Bowl is over, we have some head-to-head data to look at. So while this is still pure speculation, we have a bit more meat to base any conclusions upon. (If you’re wondering what conclusions I’m talking about, Part 1 focused on the quarterbacks, Part 2a and Part 2b on the offense in general.)

As we look at what actually transpired last Sunday, the phrase “Defense Wins Championships” certainly comes to mind, but perhaps more strikingly than has been evident for quite some time. For one thing, when is the last time a defensive player was the Super Bowl MVP?

I asked myself this question, and it turns out the answer is, “not all that long ago.” Malcolm Smith of the Seahawks was the MVP two years ago. But in the last 20 Super Bowls a defensive player has only been the MVP two other times—Ray Lewis was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXV and Dexter Jackson of Tampa Bay was the MVP of Super Bowl XXXVII. All Steelers Super Bowl MVPs were offensive players: Terry Bradshaw twice, Lynn Swann and Franco Harris once each, and Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes in the 21st century.

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