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: Joe Haden
Experience: 8 Years
While opinions have been mixed regarding the impact and influence of Joe Haden, and even more so on his performance specifically, I think it’s fair to say at the least that his inclusion into the defensive backfield represented an upgrade from what they previously had.
The Steelers made the bold move when the former Pro Bowler became available late in August after being released by the Cleveland Browns, and they had him inked to a three-year contract before the day was through.
He only had a couple of weeks before Pittsburgh played its first game of the regular season, however, and against his former team, so the early part of the season was undoubtedly something of a learning curve, even for the eight-year veteran.
I was skeptical about the signing and especially concerned about his durability following multiple seasons of injuries, including serious concussion issues, and he did get injured again this season, but it wasn’t the sort of chronic problem that was at issue before. It was more of a freak injury, suffering a high fracture of the fibula against the Lions.
That resulted in him missing most of the second half of the season, and he struggled a bit when he did return, especially in the final game of the regular season against the Browns, where the secondary frequently looked like it was lost.
But the Steelers brought him in for coverage, and he did that well in the first half of the season especially. In the first eight games, according to Pro Football Focus, he gave up 18 receptions on 30 targets for 251 yards and no touchdowns with an interception and a quarterback rating of 73.1.
He saw only one target every 9.7 snaps in coverage, sixth-fewest among starters during that time, and gave up a reception once every 16.1 snaps. He allowed .87 yards per coverage snap, which was neither great nor poor.
Yet he can play better, and should play better. His tackling was a head-scratcher for me, as he struggled in that area. At the end of the day, he clearly makes the team better, and with an actual offseason to adjust to the defense, he should be a more consistent performer in 2018.