The Pittsburgh Steelers’ season ended a few weeks earlier that they had planned it to, but now that their 2015 campaign has drawn to a conclusion, it’s time to wrap things up and take stock of where they are and how they got there. Part of that process involves holding player exit meetings at the conclusion of each season.
Of course, we’re not privy to the specifics that go on in each of these meetings between head coach and player, and whomever else might be involved in any particular discussion, but if we were conducting them, it might go something like this.
Player: Matt Spaeth
Position: Tight End
Experience: 9 Years
We have wrapped up our exit meetings for all of the Steelers’ opening day starters, as well as an extra wide receiver for offense and an extra cornerback for defense to account for the frequency with which the Steelers employ them in what has become their base packages.
So now it’s time to start covering some of the other major key contributors, beginning with the offensive side of the ball, and I will begin with the second tight end position, which has been filled by Matt Spaeth for the majority of the past decade in Pittsburgh, including the past three seasons, when healthy.
It may not come to you as a great shock to learn that Spaeth was not a major direct contributor to the offense in 2015. He caught only two passes for 10 total yards, which is actually a step down. Last year he caught three passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. In 2013, he caught just one pass, but it was an 11-yard touchdown.
But that has not, and will never be his game, having gone over double-digit receptions and triple-digit receiving yards just once in his nine-yard career, with a career-high of three touchdowns coming in his rookie season.
He has been less involved in the passing game than ever in recent years, but that should not be a surprise given the Steelers’ array of three-receiver packages and the increased usage of running backs. But his work as a blocker is as important as it has ever been.
He logged over 250 snaps over the course of the season, or roughly about a quarter of the team’s snaps if you weigh it for the game that he missed due to injury. Predictably, that work came mostly in the running game, logging over 83 snaps in the passing game, and on only four of those snaps did he set up as a receiver (regardless of whether or not he actually ran a route).
Predictably, the vast bulk of his work came in the running game, where he logged over 150 snaps. On those plays—many of which were short-yardage situations, of course—the Steelers averaged 4.5 yards per carry, including, of course, many of the team’s rushing touchdowns. Spaeth might not have much time left in his career—he will turn 33 this year—but he is still contributing in the manner he long has.