There’s nothing that the Pittsburgh Steelers seem to like talking about more following seasons in which they went 8-8 and/or failed to reach the postseason than to emphasize their own failures, and to make it clear that they put the blame on themselves for the team’s shortcomings.
Following a season in which they both missed the postseason and went 8-8—on the back of a year without the playoffs the year before, no less—general manager Kevin Colbert was in rare form in talking about the mediocrity of the job that he performed last season.
Colbert, who has made it clear this offseason that he is taking the rest of his career on a year-to-year basis based on what he and his family feel is best for themselves and for the team, did sign a one-year contract extension recently, which runs through the 2021 NFL Draft.
During his press conference at the Combine earlier this week, he was asked about the Steelers’ organizational stability and consistency. “I’m fortunate to be a part of it, but quite honestly, I’m really fortunate to be a part of it because we’re coming off of two non-playoff seasons, which I’m very uncomfortable with”, he said. “So it’s up to us to live up to the standards that were established way before I got here”.
Even though he made bold moves in the offseason that greatly improve their defense, signing Steven Nelson in free agency, trading up in the draft to get Devin Bush, and then making an admittedly expensive in-season draft to add Minkah Fitzpatrick, Colbert wouldn’t use the injured quarterback excuse for their .500 season.
“Every decision we made in 2019 was an 8-8 decision. We can talk about, look at it in any way we want, but it was an 8-8. Every decision was an 8-8”, he told reporters. “So we have to reflect and go back and evaluate every decision we made. And why did we do this? Could we have done it better? Because the end result was it was 8-8 and there’s no getting around it. So we’ll constantly evaluate what we do and how we can maybe do it better”.
Arguably, the biggest decision that they made that contributed to the Steelers going 8-8 was their comfort with Mason Rudolph being their backup quarterback, because he ended up playing the majority of the season, and yet at one point played so poorly that he was benched in favor of an undrafted rookie out of an FCS school.
Of course you don’t foresee your quarterback getting injured, but that is why teams invest in the backup quarterback position. The Steelers were comfortable enough with Rudolph last year based on their college evaluation. They are again stating that they are comfortable with him going into 2020. Will this prove to be another 8-8 decision? It will only matter if Ben Roethlisberger can’t play, or struggles.