End-of-season player exit meetings are not something that we are often privy to as outsiders of the football world. Generally, we only get a glimpse into that world when a player is asked by a reporter how the meeting went, if the player is willing to discuss it.
Still, it’s not generally a hard concept to grasp, and we have a pretty good feel by now of how Mike Tomlin and his staff likes to operate, and we see all the game film, so it’s not an overly difficult project to simulate. If we were to administer the end-of-season player exit meetings, it might go something like this.
Player: Maurkice Pouncey
Experience: 5 Years
If you were to present to me the argument that 2014 was the best year in Steelers fifth-year center Maurkice Pouncey’s career, I probably would be disinclined to debate the issue much at all. There have been some venues over the years advocating the narrative that Pouncey is overrated and getting by on reputation, but even those parties would be likely to grudgingly acknowledge the quality play that he put on tape this season.
A season, of course, just a year removed from tearing his ACL, just eight snaps into the 2013 season opener. Despite the injury, however, Pouncey remained a part of his offensive line group, pushing them and coaching them on the side, all the while rehabbing his knee.
It all paid dividends, as the commitment that he showed to getting back on the field was rewarded not only with a massive new contract spanning the better part of what remains of this decade, but also a trip to the Pro Bowl and an acknowledgement on the All-Pro list.
Of course, he has been named to the Pro Bowl and garnered first- or second-team All-Pro accolades in each of the four seasons now in which he has played nine or more snaps in his five-year career. I can’t help but feel, however, that this season was the most deserving, admittedly in part due to the adversity that he had to come back from to reach this plateau.
As with the majority of the Steelers’ offensive line this past season, some of Pouncey’s rougher performance came against the Ravens, but he was largely consistent in his performance, particularly outside of the division. Perhaps he got dinged for one too many penalties, and also had a bad or early snap or two, but certainly the good far outweighed the bad.
Pouncey may be the most athletic center in the league, which allows him to get on the move and in space in order to carry out assignments that others at his position around the league cannot. With a running back with the vision and patience of Le’Veon Bell, this combination proved to be quite an asset on a few occasions.