Immediately after the Pittsburgh Steelers 2014 season abruptly ended Saturday night thanks to a 30-17 home playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens, we attempted to lift your spirits by giving you several positive takeaways from the year. Now that you’ve had time to collect yourself it’s our duty to pass along several of the negative takeaways from the season.
Jonesing Jones – 2014 was an uneventful season for second-year outside linebacker Jarvis Jones as the former first-round draft pick only played 242 snaps on defense in the eight games that he suited up for. While Jones did manage to record two sacks at the start of the season before suffering a wrist injury that would ultimately sideline for him nine games, that was the extent of his highlight reel outside of making a few contributions on special teams. Due to the nature of his injury, Jones likely lost some of his core strength and while sidelined he likely fell way behind when it came to the Xs and Os of the defense as mental reps can only help so much. In the final three games, Jones only played 16 snaps.
Blountly Booted – When the Steelers signed running back LeGarrette Blount during the offseason it seemed like he might be the perfect compliment to starter Le’Veon Bell. When Blount had his snaps decreased in the middle of the season, however, he didn’t take it well and he showed his frustration by walking off the field just prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans ending. Head coach Mike Tomlin dealt with Blount swiftly and in less than 24 hours after the incident happened, he found himself on the waiver wire and back with the New England Patriots. Once Blount was jettisoned the Steelers were left with two rookie running backs as backups and neither saw much action until the Wild Card game against the Ravens and that’s only because Bell missed the contest with a knee injury. Blount might not have made a difference against Ravens, but at least he would’ve been experienced and familiar with the offense. The Patriots will play the Ravens next weekend and all eyes will be on Blount in that game to see how well he plays against their solid run defense.
Mitchell Miss – The Steelers made signing Mike Mitchell a priority during free agency after choosing to move on from veteran Ryan Clark. Mitchell’s early days with the Steelers didn’t start off well as the safety began training camp on the PUP list with a groin injury. During the season Mitchell was credited with 71 total tackles, three passes defensed and two forced fumbles during the regular season. He also played a part in giving up several big plays and three touchdowns. Including the playoffs, he was flagged five times in total with his final penalty being for unnecessary roughness in the game Saturday night against the Ravens. After that game was over, Mitchell told the media that he played the entire season with a torn groin that will require surgery even though he didn’t miss many practices during the season. Mitchell signed a five-year, $25 million contract and because of that the odds are good he’ll get a chance to redeem himself next season. We hope he does if he’s still around after the start of the new league year.
Trash Cam – In addition to missing with Blount and Mitchell during free agency, general manager Kevin Colbert really shanked one into the lumber yard when he signed former San Diego Chargers defensive lineman Cam Thomas. Thomas, who started nine games and played 453 total snaps in 2014 for the Steelers, won’t be missed when he’s released in March. At least that’s what everyone is hoping for. He logged snaps at both nose tackle and defensive end during the season and was easily the weakest link on the defensive line whenever he was in a game. He won’t be missed.
Moore Got Less – Veteran wide receiver Lance Moore was another free agent brought in during the offseason by Colbert that failed to do much of anything. After missing the first two games with an injury, the former New Orleans Saints wide receiver struggled to get playing time. In the 264 snaps that he did play, he only managed to catch 14 passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Now that rookie Martavis Bryant has passed Moore on the depth chart the veteran will more than likely be looking for a new team in 2015. The Steelers needed Moore to be a contributor right out of the chute and that unfortunately didn’t happen.
Corner Flop – After signing a four year contract extension worth $24.6 million just prior to the start of the 2014 season, fourth-year cornerback Cortez Allen went on to play like a rookie undrafted free agent to start the season. Allen was expected to be an outside cornerstone in the Steelers secondary but one bad game was routinely followed by an even worse one. The Citadel product was eventually benched and to make matters worse he suffered a thumb injury in practice prior to the game against the Titans. After having surgery to repair his thumb he wound up being placed on injury reserve becaise of his ineffectiveness while wearing a cast. We’ve seen Allen play much better than he did in 2014 and as a result you now have to wonder if he’s having problems with the metal aspect of the position. Allen will be back at it again in 2015 and the Steelers really need him to turn the proverbial corner.
Father Time Tracks Down Some Veterans – There’s a good chance veterans Troy Polamalu, Brett Keisel and Ike Taylor have all played their final game in a Steelers uniform. Father Time is undefeated and all three longtime Steelers went down injured during the season. After breaking his forearm in Week 3, Taylor didn’t get back on the field again until Week 13. Upon his return he played 97 snaps of bad football and thus didn’t dress for the final four games. Polamalu missed four games in 2014 with a knee injury and when he wasn’t the difference maker in the games he played in. While Keisel didn’t play lights-out to start the season, he did seem to find his old groove in the second half before finally succumbing to a biceps injury in Week 14. The Steelers were able to get 451 snaps out of him before he went down, but they probably could’ve used 200 more good ones.
Archer’s Dull Arrow – The Steelers spent a third-round draft pick on undersized running back Dri Archer in May in hopes that he could become a part-time offensive weapon and explosive return man. After suffering an ankle injury in the season-opener, Archer played all of 36 snaps on offense the rest of the regular season. His kick returns were unimpressive and the same can be said about his 21 total touches. Archer will be back again in 2015 and he’ll have to show a lot to warrant him being drafted where he was. Right now his arrow is pointing down after a dismal rookie season.