2019 South Side Questions: Should Mike Tomlin Be Firing People This Offseason?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.

The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.

How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?

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: Should Mike Tomlin be firing people this offseason?

The Steelers have won just 17 games over the course of the past season, going 17-14-1 overall in that span. They have missed the postseason for two straight years. They went from having one of the best offenses to one of the worst, but also from a middling defense to one of the best. And the downfall of the offense was tied largely to the loss of Ben Roethlisberger.

So how do you figure this all together, and what do you do about it—if anything? Do you start firing people? Outside of the potential for new hires (e.g. a designated quarterbacks coach), is it necessary to make changes within the coaching staff—having it go without saying that Mike Tomlin is not going to get fired (and certainly isn’t going to retire)?

The obvious source of derision this season has been Randy Fichtner, the offensive coordinator, with the Steelers literally going from first to worst in red zone efficiency from 2018 to 2019. Does all the blame go on him, or at least enough to see him get canned?

How about the offensive line, which took a step back with Shaun Sarrett as the new lead? Is he best left as the right-hand man, rather than ‘the man’? And how much credit ought Keith Butler get for the improvements we saw on defense this year? Can they be better if they replace him? Do they need to do that?

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