The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Does Art Rooney II do a good job of taking the pulse of his team?
While we more informally heard from Art Rooney II earlier this offseason responding directly to issues surrounding star wide receiver Antonio Brown, it was not until yesterday that he more formally spoke to reporters to address the state of the Steelers following their (early) exit from the 2018 season.
Pittsburgh failed to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2014, and are one of just four teams to have been in the playoffs in at least four of the past five seasons. Even this year, they very narrowly failed to reach the playoffs, going 9-6-1 (a .594 winning percentage) with the Baltimore Ravens just edging them out with a 10-6 record.
In light of this, Rooney isn’t sounding the alarm that the end is nigh, but that seems to be just what many Steelers fans want him to do. The team is clearly in freefall, all hope is lost, and they will be finishing no better than third in the division for the foreseeable future until they fire Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert and Rooney steps aside to let someone in who knows what they’re doing.
Art II strongly rejected the notion that his organization is like a circus right now, suggesting that the outside perception of how things are going (including from virtually every local beat writer) doesn’t match their view. Antonio Brown is certainly a headache, but little more than that, and if they need an aspirin (e.g. trading him), they’ll do that and move on.
While he was critical of the defense’s inability to create turnovers, he didn’t do anything to suggest that he lacked confidence in those running the group, instead seeming to point the finger at personnel. He essentially gave a shrug when the subject of Le’Veon Bell and his decision to not show up came out.
Whether or not he sounds clueless is going to be in the eye of the beholder. So what is your eye telling you?