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: Kerrith Whyte
Position: Running Back
Experience: 1 Year
Before I dig in here, I will acknowledge Tony Brooks-James, who spent a few weeks on the Steelers’ 53-man roster (having previously been on the practice squad) before he was released with the signing of Kerrith Whyte.
Brooks-James’ time served combined with the fact that he did not finish the season with the team did not amount to what I would consider meriting an exit meeting article. As for Whyte, however, he had the look of a player who has a legitimate chance of making the roster in 2020.
A late-round pick of the Chicago Bears last season, he spent the first three weeks of the year on their 53-man roster before he was waived and moved to the practice squad. He did not dress during his three weeks on the active roster.
The Steelers came in to sign him from the Bears’ practice squad heading into Week 12, and he would finish the finish six weeks of the season in Pittsburgh, even receiving playing time. He only got about 35-40 offensive snaps, but he did record 122 rushing yards on 24 attempts. He also caught one pass for nine yards.
Equally significant is the fact that he was given the opportunity to return kicks after Ryan Switzer was injured and Brooks-James was left go. While his average of 18.86 looks bad, he did show some potential on a couple of returns, and with some development and experience working with the Steelers’ blocking unit, that may be an opening for him.
Earning the kick return job for 2020 would insulate Whyte from a position numbers game. The Steelers are set to return their three primary backs from last season in James Conner, Jaylen Samuels, and Benny Snell. In order for them to justify carrying four, they typically expect him to have an important role on special teams.