There are only two football games left to be played, and only one of the two actually means anything. Unfortunately, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be playing the one that doesn’t matter, and therein lies the fundamental critique that many fans have about the team’s current coaching staff.
When I say that the Steelers will be playing in a game that doesn’t matter, I’m not far from speaking that literally. The Steelers staff has been chosen to coach the AFC side in the Pro Bowl. And after all has been said and done, and alternates chosen to replace those who have advanced to the game that matters or who backed out due to ‘injuries’, Pittsburgh will officially be represented with 10 players.
Not all of whom will be there, of course, though it sounds as though the anticipation is that the majority will be in attendance. It helps that the coaching staff will be there, but I think it goes without saying that Ryan Shazier will not.
The offense in particular will be heavily represented. Following yesterday’s news that fullback Roosevelt Nix will be replacing New England Patriots fullback James Develin, they now have seven representatives. The other members of the offense in the Pro Bowl are offensive linemen David DeCastro, Maurkice Pouncey, and Alejandro Villanueva, running back Le’Veon Bell, wide receiver Antonio Brown, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
The defense is also represented by two selections, those being the aforementioned Shazier, and the very much deserving Cameron Heyward, who is only going as an alternate after another player backed out, in spite of the fact that he was voted a first-team All-Pro.
Even the special teams got a nod, with kicker Chris Boswell being named to the Pro Bowl. Outside of returners, he is the first specialist in decades for the Steelers to be named to the Pro Bowl. And he was chosen outright, not as an alternate.
So how could a team who has 10 Pro Bowlers on it fall so short of its goals once it reached the postseason? That is the question that I’m seeing a lot of people asking. How can you have that much player talent that you can have two fifths of your starters—including special teams—recognized for said talent, more than any other team, and yet fail to win a playoff game?
This is where the criticism of the coaching staff comes into play, and where fans pick and choose players’ words to fit the narrative they’re looking to build. It’s clearly just a matter of the coaching staff not being good enough to get the most out of their very talented players.
That’s certainly not all true. After all, they did win 13 games. But there is also certainly some truth to it. No coaching staff is perfect. Not even New England’s. But it’s hard to deny that the results have to change, one way or another.