The Pittsburgh Steelers have a major set challenges facing them for the offseason of 2019 after they managed to miss the postseason for the first time in five years. The failure has been taken especially grievously because of the fact that the team was in position to control their own fate even for homefield advantage with six games remaining before dropping four games.
And so they find themselves getting the exit meeting process underway at least two weeks earlier than they have had to in years, since they have made it to at least the Divisional Round since 2015. Hopefully they used those extra two weeks with purpose.
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 2018 season.
Player: James Conner
Position: Running Back
Experience: 2 Years
Normally this would be reserved for Le’Veon Bell, but, um, he’s not here. So we’re talking about James Conner instead. You know, the Steelers’ starting running back in 2018. The 2017 third-round compensatory draft pick was their featured runner last season when Bell did not report, and he did enough to earn himself Pro Bowl recognition. Not too shabby.
On 215 total rushing attempts, Conner churned out 975 yards. While he did fall short of 1000 rushing yards, a number frequently used as a benchmark or milestone for the position, he ran the ball well, averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He also scored 12 times on the ground, among the top marks at the position.
But he also prove himself to be multi-dimensional, three-down back. He not only handled himself well in pass protection—this area was a major concern while he was injured—he showed surprisingly soft hands (most of the time) as a receiver and was great with yards after the catch.
Afterall, he picked up 497 receiving yards on just 55 receptions, averaging nine yards per catch. His average depth of target was around the line of scrimmage, as is the case for pretty much every running back, so you do the math on that.
Now, he certainly had his ups and downs. I would like to see him improve his successful play rate, as his yards per carry are a bit elevated by a number of explosive runs. He also needs to clean up his fumbling and had struggles catching the ball later in the year.
But it can’t be denied that he got off to a strong beginning to his career as a starter, and he should only be able to build from there. Will others like Jaylen Samuels take some of the workload off of him in the future? We’ll see, but the Steelers also know he can be a bell cow back without Bell coming back.