Tag Archives: Mike Mitchell

What Killed the Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 Season?

By Ivan Cole

As has been noted in these spaces before, the off season can evolve its own strains of hysteria concerning the state of a team. I think Art Rooney II got it right when evaluating the season—he pointed out that a 13-3 record signifies a very good year. For a fan base that measures success in Lombardi Trophies it is easy to dismiss the regular season as meaningless. But as Rooney noted, few teams can point to many instances when they have done that well. I would add that nearly a third of the schedule was played against eventual playoff teams, so the record was not a cheap or inflated achievement.

This highlights a disquieting, even disturbing truth about the game: Ultimate success often hinges not upon big problems. As often as not, one event, a game, even just a play or two can determine the outcome of entire seasons. What follows is one person’s opinion of what derailed the Steelers’ run to the Super Bowl in 2017.

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5 Smoldering Questions on Steelers Free Agency

Photo via Steelers.com

By Hombre de Acero

The 2018 off season has already brought change to the Steelers with the next month promising to bring more, even if the Steelers remain quiet in free agency. But before any of that can happen, this corner of Steelers Nation must first resolve these 5 Smoldering Question on Steelers Free Agency.

1. In his post-season pow-wow with reporters, Steelers President Art Rooney II declared that “Its hard to play defense in today’s NFL.” While many will readily accept Rooney’s assertion, it was only 2 years ago that the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl on the strength of their defense.

Do you think the erstwhile Steelers President might be a little too quick to let Keith Butler and company off the hook?

2. At first word was there’d be no changes to Mike Tomlin’s defensive staff, yet Carnell Lake resigned and Johnny Mitchell got kicked upstairs. Once praised for “The Lake Effect” Lake has been a lightening rod for criticism of late.

Even if you accept at face value his explanation that his resignation was a choice, do you think the Steelers secondary will be better or worse off under Tom Bradley?

3. The day one free agency signings of Mike Mitchell and Ladarius Green were out of character for the Steelers. The latter move was a complete failure, even if you accept that Green played well in the 6 games of the four year contract he signed. Mike Mitchell’s offers more of a mixed bag, but he still was not the impact player the Steelers needed him to be.

The Steelers of course have obtained the services of future Hall of Famers like Kevin Greene through free agency, as well as perennial Pro Bowlers like Ryan Clark and James Farrior.

But none of these were first-choice options of the Steelers.

Could it be that the Steelers simply aren’t suited for Splash Free Agency?

4. William Gay fell to free agency as a salary cap casualty. When the history of Steelers cornerbacks is written, the top five will read: Mel Blount, Rod Woodson, Jack Butler, Ike Taylor and Dwayne Woodruff.

Where would you rank William Gay?

Feel free to offer a range as opposed to a specific rank but be ready to defend your choice.

5. The Steelers have offered tenders to Anthony Chickillo and Chris Boswell, franchised Le’Veon Bell and if reports are correct, Chris Hubbard will have signed with the Browns by the time you read this.

Pittsburgh’s remaining unrestricted free agents are Arthur Moats, Justin Hunter, Daniel McCullers, Sean Spence and Stevan Ridley. Restricted free agents Eli Rogers, Fitzgerald Toussiant and Greg Ducre (who????) also have gotten no offers and are unrestricted free agents.

You are Kevin Colbert: Which of these players do you bring back for 2018?

Bonus Question:

6. It does not take a football genius or a Steelers news junkie to know that Pittsburgh’s most urgent needs in 2018 are inside linebacker and safety.

Which position would you target for the draft and which would you target via free agency? Offer examples and defend your choice.

Tackling the Big Questions, No. 1: To Keep or Not to Keep

Photo via Steelers.com, illustrating some of those intangibles…

I’m launching another new offseason feature this year, because as Kevin Colbert said in his recent press conference, if you keep doing the same thing, why would you expect a different result? (Although why we would want a different result than a 13-3 season and winning the division was not stated, except, I suppose, for that little “first-round playoff exit” thing…)

And I don’t know what different result I’m aiming for, either. Truth to tell, I just like the sound of the headline, and you’re going to see it a lot, exploring different issues. Today’s issue, as you might suspect, is the potential free agents whose status is still very much up in the air at the moment.

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Meet the New Steeler: Safety J.J. Wilcox

photo via insidethestar.com

The Steelers are killing me here. I sincerely hope the spate of new signings stops soon, because I can scarcely keep up!

The latest signing has some interesting antecedents. He was born and raised in Cairo, for one thing! Which is less exciting when you realize that’s Cairo, Georgia. But it still has a tinge of the exotic about it, especially when you discover his high school team was the Cairo Syrupmakers. I’m willing to make a small bet that no other high school team in the entire country is called the “Syrupmakers.” Read more

The Revenge of the Bubble Guys: Steelers @ Carolina

via Steelers.com

As we all know, the interest (or, for some, the only vestige of an interest) in the final preseason game is getting one more look at the roster bubble guys. Which brings up my first question—why is it a “bubble?” I could see a player being “on the bubbly” if he actually makes the 53 man roster. If I were Joe Haden I would be very tempted to invest in some bubbly, although perhaps he should wait until the bye week at this point. Kevin Colbert is perhaps on the bubbly tonight, as he has a nice new contract after 175 wins as GM for the Steelers.

But tonight there is an extra soupçon of intrigue, outside of any sort of bubble, as Vance McDonald is playing. Joe Haden, although he attended the team meeting this morning, is not, but it will certainly be interesting to see the shiny new tight end.

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Pittsburgh’s Goin’ to the Super Bowl: Safety in Numbers

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Via Steelers.com

The safety position was one of the few pretty much completely unaffected by free agency. The Steelers didn’t lose (or not re-sign) anyone who had played any significant amount of snaps at the position.

The possible exception is Shamarko Thomas, once considered the heir apparent to Troy Polamalu but ultimately ineffective. But Thomas has played essentially no snaps at safety in the past year—he played six, to be precise. While he was a valuable special teamer when healthy, he missed a lot of time last year with injuries—four weeks with a groin injury and four weeks due to concussion. It seems unlikely he will be back in the Black and Gold. Read more

More on the Steelers’ Free Agency Moves, or Lack Thereof

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Matt Freed, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

My husband and I had dinner the other night with some friends from our days in New Mexico. I was very much looking forward to the dinner and catching up with them, at least until they arrived and the first words out of Richard’s mouth were “Gosh, my team has been uncharacteristically active in free agency this year.” My heart plummeted as I remembered he was not only a Patriots fan but one of the smug kind. (Actually, those are pretty much the only kind of Pats fans I’ve met. Are there any other kind?)

It was too late to bail on the dinner arrangements, and besides the restaurant we met at is an old favorite, one that I seldom get to enjoy anymore, since it is now about 1500 miles away from my house. So I gritted my teeth and merely responded that I realized it was uncharacteristic, and assumed it must be because Bill Belichick has discovered some new loophole or other. Richard said “Oh, I hope so.”

He also offered me condolences on the AFC Championship game, which were, of course, completely lacking in any sincerity whatsoever. Luckily, I like his wife a lot, and she doesn’t care about football as far as I know. Read more

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