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: James Conner
Position: Running Back
Experience: 3 Years
Well, the 2019 season certainly was not a great one for James Conner, his third year in the league. It’s a shame, too, because they really could have used him in a much greater capacity after the Steelers lost quarterback Ben Roethlisberger just a game and a half into the season.
Conner, a third-round pick in 2017, found himself thrust into a starting role in his second year after Le’Veon Bell no-showed on his second consecutive franchise tag. Starting 13 games—missing three due to injury—he rushed for nearly 1000 yards in addition to picking up almost 500 yards receiving for a total of 13 touchdowns. He was voted into the Pro Bowl outright.
Understandably, pick things were expected of him for his second year in the starting lineup. After a slow start, however, he finally broke out in the ground game with a 145-yard rushing performance in Week Eight on 23 carries, with a rushing touchdown.
It was in that same game that he suffered a shoulder injury that would pretty much derail the rest of his season. He only played another 56 snaps in 2019 spread out over three games, and while there were times in which he looked quite effective, he suffered yet another injury in Week 16 after just nine snaps.
All told, he finished the year with 464 rushing yards on 116 attempts. He scored four rushing touchdowns and three receiving, in addition to 34 receptions for 251 yards. He now enters the final year of his rookie contract, and it’s not clear if the team plans to give him an extension or let him play out the contract.
There were certainly times during the season in which Conner flashed his true skill level, which rivals most backs in the league. One has to wonder, however, how effective he can be over a 16-game season when looking at his injury history. He has not made it through a season healthy yet in the pros.