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: Steven Nelson
Experience: 5 Years
You may or may not have noticed that I inadvertently skipped over Steven Nelson while rounding out the group of offensive and defensive starters through this exit meeting series. I’m sure he wouldn’t take too kindly to that, but let’s hope he doesn’t see it.
Many failed to see Nelson this year, which is the only way to explain how he has gone so much under the radar in the national media, despite being an integral piece of one of the best defenses in the NFL during the 2019 season. Had he created more splash plays—he had just one interception and a fumble recovery—surely his name would have been out there more, but you can’t judge a cornerback solely by takeaways.
Between the two, it might be fair to say that Nelson was the more consistent in comparison to Joe Haden last season, even though the elder defensive back finished the year with five interceptions (multiple coming off of deflections) and ultimately with Pro Bowl recognition as well.
The Steelers signed Nelson as an unrestricted free agent about 11 months ago, the biggest unrestricted free agent signing in the team’s history at three years and $25.5 million. He proved to be worth every penny, even though he wasn’t exactly met with glee when he was brought in.
The year prior to signing, he did record four interceptions with the Kansas City Chiefs, so we do know that he has the capacity to be the sort of player to take the ball away. Can he take that next step in his second season with the Steelers and add more splash plays into the mix? Considering an inevitable regression to the mean in takeaways from last season, it would certainly come in handy.