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: Tyson Alualu
Position: Defensive End
Experience: 9 Years
The Pittsburgh Steelers were facing the prospect of watching the entirety of their backup defensive line hit free agency in 2019. That was before they re-signed veteran Tyson Alualu to a two-year contract to keep him around for another couple of seasons.
Alualu has been the best backup defensive linemen the Steelers have had in some time, at least when you exclude those who either later became starters or previously were. While he did not play as big of a role in 2018 as he did in 2017 while Stephon Tuitt was injured (and starting the season finale while Cameron Heyward was rested), he continued to be his same self.
The fact that Alualu does not offer a great deal in the way of the pass rush is a bit of a concern, but the more important thing is that he, better than most, understands his role in the pass rush with respect to maintaining gap integrity. So while he might not get into the backfield a lot, he also is where he is supposed to be, which helps prevent bad things from happening.
His strength of course comes against the run, where he has at times been the Steelers’ best defenders along the defensive line. He played 132 snaps against the run in 2018 and recorded 17 total tackles on those plays. 15 of them qualified as defensive stops. His run-stop percentage was, for the second year in a row, the highest among the defensive linemen on the team.
Alualu is a good first man off the bench, but the Steelers could really benefit from adding a more dynamic pass rusher along the defensive line to complement what the rest of the group already brings. That is what the reserves on that unit have lacked, and the one thing Alualu doesn’t offer. His zero sacks in 2018 are much more representative of his pass rush game than was his career-high four of 2017.