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: Alejandro Villanueva
Experience: 4 Years
The Pittsburgh Steelers know that they struck gold when they eyed Alejandro Villanueva on the Philadelphia Eagles’ sideline during a preseason game in 2014. The 6’9” defensive end is now a two-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle, coming off the best season of his career, and is still under contract for two more seasons.
At 30 years old, Villanueva legitimately ascended into the discussion as being one of the premiere left tackles in the NFL, which is particular strength being in pass protection. The former Army Ranger has outstanding reach, and his height is less of a disadvantage in that area of the game. His chop technique has taken many veteran edge rushers to the ground in embarrassing fashion.
He might lose the leverage battle sometimes against the run when he is going up again a savvy defender who knows how to go low, and has gotten knocked on his back a few times, but Villanueva is also capable of blowing up a hole, and his ability to get out in space has been featured on a number of explosive runs over the course of the past three seasons in particular.
One of the interesting discussions this offseason will be how he fares in 2019. Villanueva was very close to Mike Munchak, both on a professional and personal level. We have shared his comments on Munchak a number of times, having called him a special person.
But it’s also true that new offensive line coach, Shaun Sarrett, spent a good amount of time working with Villanueva. Munchak and Sarrett routinely split responsibilities between the interior and outside linemen, and Sarrett often worked with the tackles.
If you asked Villanueva, he would probably tell you that there is still so much that he needs to work on. He would probably deny being worthy of having the distinction of Pro Bowler. Personally, I think it wasn’t necessarily earned in 2017, but this past year was a different story.