The Pittsburgh Steelers ended the 2019 season much as they did the 2018 season, by allowing their playoff fate slip out of their grasp. Slow starts and slow finishes permeated both campaigns, with strong runs in between. But while the results were the same missing the playoffs, the means were quite different.
Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we. But that they still managed to go 8-8 without Ben Roethlisberger, and with the general quality of play that they faced along the way, I suppose things could have been worse.
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: Maurkice Pouncey
Experience: 10 Years
Prior to the start of the 2019 season, the Steelers surprised Maurkice Pouncey with a two-year contract extension, making him once again among the highest-paid centers in the league in per-year salary on the new money portion of the deal.
The former 2010 first-round pick and now eight-time Pro Bowler is under contract for the next two seasons. He will be 31 years old at the start of the 2020 season as he heads into his 11th year. One does have to wonder how much he has left in the proverbial tank.
The 2019 season was perhaps his worst since right before his fractured leg, an injury that almost ended his career in 2015. Which is surprising to me, given that I thought the 2018 season was his best since 2014. He even earned second-team All-Pro honors for that. He was still given a Pro Bowl nod this year, but I don’t think he deserved it.
His most grievous fault was his poor snaps, which is obviously an essential quality for a center. While Mike Tomlin has argued that Ben Roehtlisberger always made Pouncey look good for an issue that he’s always had, I think it’s a complete copout answer. Sure, Roethlisberger has saved a few wild pitches here and there, but if Pouncey were this erratic in the past, he wouldn’t have made it this far in his career. He can and has absolutely done better.
That being said, it has also been drastically overstated how supposedly bad he has played. I recall an exchange on Twitter between Pro Football Focus, who was extremely critical of his play this year, and another professional commentator whose name I don’t remember at this time.
The latter clipped every single snap from his lowest-graded game of the season (the Los Angeles Chargers game) and said something like, if this is the worst he did, then he’s a pretty damn good center. The problem is, we judge him against his own standards. I think the quarterback position this past season should remind us how dangerous it is to take for granted a great talent.