While the Pittsburgh Steelers may have gained some tangible evidence of improvement, improving their win total by three games and hosting a playoff game as a division champion for the first time in four seasons, there is no doubt that the team is far from a finished product.
No team, of course, is a finished product in the offseason. Every team loses players to free agency and retirement, and replaces them through the same free agency process, as well as the draft.
With all of the change that occurs during the offseason, it’s often difficult to predict how a particular team might fare. They may wind up holding the Lombardi trophy or the first overall draft pick when all is said and done.
In order to gain a better feel for not only the issues facing the team this year, but how those issues might play out, it’s useful to take the devil’s advocate approach. This is the pessimistic side of the coin.
Question: Can Mike Adams ever amount to anything with the Steelers?
It may be difficult for the front office to feel as though they’ve been had by Mike Adams, both on and off the field. Prior to the 2012 draft, he sold them on a story about a young kid whose dream it was to play for the Steelers and that he would do what it takes to make that happen.
Then in just his second offseason with the team, he found himself in an off the field altercation after midnight late one night that he may have helped instigate, and which left him with a knife wound in his stomach.
Of course, you don’t have to be a saint off the field in order to earn the right to play football. Adams was placed in the starting lineup that summer at left tackle, where the coaching staff hoped he would stick for years to come.
It only took four games before they had to pull the plug after a litany of sacks off the blind side that helped contribute to a straight month of defeats. He has been unable to regain a starting spot at either tackle position in the 26 regular season games since.
He has, however, made five starts, including four last season at right tackle, as an injury replacement. I’m comfortable in stating that his performance in these games showed little substantial growth and no reason to believe that the final year of his rookie contract will be any different.
Realistically, Adams will probably spend the last year of his contract as the swing tackle for both spots, possibly starting a game or two due to injury, perhaps logging some time as a tackle-eligible tight end, before hoping for a fresh start in free agency in 2016.
Because it seems pretty clear by now that he is in no position for advancement in Pittsburgh, where he is already labeled as a bust. Perhaps he’s shown enough over his career for some team to take a flyer on him to let him compete for a starting spot, but the possibility of that happening with the Steelers is virtually non-existent, barring injury.