The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2017 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Nevertheless, 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: Maurkice Pouncey
Experience: 8 Years
Were it not for two catastrophic injuries that he suffered in his career, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey would rather easily be the most-tenured starter along the team’s offensive line, but that distinction has to go to Ramon Foster, who had started 115 games in his career, while Pouncey has started 92. He lost 31 games two to two season-ending injuries.
But, fortunately, he has been actually quite healthy since that last major injury. Over the course of the past two seasons, he actually has barely missed any time due to injury. In one game against the Baltimore Ravens in 2016, he suffered a hand injury that caused him to miss most of the rest of the game, but that is the only time he has missed due to injury. He also sat out the regular season finale each of the past two years as the team rested select starters.
If I’m being honest, though, Pouncey did not have his best season, nor was he at his best a year ago. He was excellent in 2014, the last time that he has been named an All-Pro, but he has not been as consistent since returning from that serious fibula injury.
In particular, he has had issues in the run game. Actually, he is still a very good pass protector, among the best at his position, but he has uncharacteristically struggled against the run in the ‘phone booth’ situations. He remains better when on the move.
That said, there’s no reason to start going around looking for his replacement just yet. We are here mostly comparing Pouncey to his own prior standards, and he was at a time justly regarded as the best center in the game, if not one of the best.
He is still playing at a more than capable level, and I see no compelling reason to believe that he will necessarily struggle against the run. It’s not as though his talent has diminished, so I’ll pause the panic meter and see if some of the issues from a year ago were an aberration.