The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2016 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Never the less, what must be done must be done, and we are now at the time of the year where we close the book on one season and look ahead to the next.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2016 season.
Player: Stephon Tuitt
Position: Defensive End
Experience: 3 Years
If I were to guess, I would say that Stephon Tuitt’s growth during his third season in 2016 didn’t quite live up to what many were hoping to see from him. I have noted previously that he missed a surprising number of tackles during the year that were not predicted by his past performance. His four sacks is also a fairly significant step down from the six and a half that he posted a year before.
Even more notable in my opinion is that his tackle total dropped from 54 in 2015 to 37 last year, and in each season he played in and started 14 games. Of course, in 2016 that was more like 13 games, as he only played the first three snaps of the game in which he injured his knee. But that one extra game doesn’t account for the drop-off in tackle productivity.
Tuitt also didn’t have much of an impact during the postseason. He registered four tackles against the Dolphins, but then had just one apiece in the other two games against the Chiefs and the Patriots. For such an important young piece of the defense, you would probably want to see a bit more on the stat sheet.
But, of course, not everything registers on the stat sheet, and Tuitt’s productivity as a pass rusher is one of them. He may have only gotten four sacks, but he was the most successful pass rusher on the defensive line, and perhaps the most successful on the entire team in terms of generating pressure. He even did so on the play on which he was injured.
Perhaps the next hurdle for him to get over in the evolution in his playing career is not about expanding his abilities, but rather fine-tuning them. He is a skilled and impactful player, but he leaves too many tackles and sacks on the field, and that needs to change going forward.
It’s very possible that the young man cashes in substantially this offseason, as he is a core piece of the team and is heading into the final season of his rookie contract. That’s generally how these contract situations work with the Steelers. He has earned it, but he can’t be done growing either.