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: Artie Burns
Experience: 2 Years
Before we dig in too deep, I think I’d like to start this exit meeting by providing a reminder to readers. As I write this right now, Artie Burns, entering his third season, is still just 22 years old. He will turn 23 in May. In other words, he is still a very young player with ample room for growth, which, if you take the word of some people, is an impossibility.
Burns was an underclassman when the Steelers used their first-round draft pick on him in 2016. He was a multi-sport athlete, splitting time also running track, and he also was not a full-time starter when he was drafted, so he came in anticipated to be somewhat raw and needing teaching and time to growth.
Ordinarily, that is not a recipe for somebody to come in and enter the starting lineup full-time by the second half of his rookie season, but that happened with the Steelers because, frankly, they didn’t really have anybody else. As soon as he was up and running on the defense, or at least knew enough that they could work around what he didn’t know, he was playing.
With that said, Burns did not make the sorts of improvements that everybody was anticipating as he entered his first full offseason, and his first season as a full-time starter from the starting gate to the finish line.
As Alex Kozora recently pondered, it is perhaps fair to say that his starting job ought not to be considered safe heading into this next season, or at least not a lock, though it should still probably be the favorite, in betting parlance.
As is so often the case, the biggest issues are inconsistency. Burns has certainly had some high-level reps this last year, and that even includes ones on which he has given up receptions, because frankly there are times when there is only so much you can do.
But communication, tackling, eye discipline, and mental lapses have all been an issue. He gave up too many big plays while producing too few of his own. He still has plenty of room to grow, but that needs to start showing this offseason. Period.