Had it not been for the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers managed to win 13 games during the 2017 regular season—a fact that can’t be taken away from them, by any means—it might be fair to say that the dominant storyline for the organization over the course of the past two seasons as far as the outside world is concerned is one of chaos.
That is still the only thing many can see when they look at the team from the outside, but that isn’t necessarily the view from within. Team president Art Rooney II more or less talked about just that earlier today when he spoke with select members of the media.
He was asked specifically if he had an issue with the outside characterization of the way the team has been run as a ‘circus’. “I don’t know where that comes from”, he said. “As far as I’m concerned it’s nonsense. We work hard to get to where we are, and if you evaluate the season we didn’t achieve our goal of winning the division, but we finished a half-game out of winning the division. We had lots of opportunities to get there and it’s disappointing, but I’m not sure how that makes you a circus”.
While the Steelers fell short of reaching their goal of making it to the postseason, they did so by the slimmest of margins. Their 9-6-1 record was good enough for a .594 winning percentage, and they fell just a half-game out of making it to the playoffs. It came down to a fourth-down play between the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens.
While the Steelers lost four of their final seven games, they were competitive in all of them, with minor, correctable foibles proving to be their undoing. A missed field goal, a rare and unfortunate fumble, a mistake by an official, these proved to be the critical moments in some of their defeats.
While Antonio Brown is certainly drawing a lot of attention, Rooney doesn’t feel that it deserves to overshadow everything else going on within the organization. The president acknowledges that changes ought to be made, and they are in the process of evaluating and making those changes, he contends that it’s not taking over the team and can be repaired.
The outside perception of the current state of the Steelers does not match that from within. This can be interpreted in two different ways. For those convinced of the carnage, they will see this as a myopia in the face of the obvious. For others, they will acknowledge that they lack the perspective and knowledge that somebody on the inside would have.
Ultimately, the question will only be settled by the results that the team puts on the field. If they are successful, much of the outside noise—and the surrounding talk—will fade away. Winning tends to solve a lot of problems.