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: Isaiah Buggs
Experience: 1 Year
Not much was asked of Isaiah Buggs over the course of his rookie season, but he was generally up to the task in the rare instances he was called upon. A sixth-round pick as a rotational lineman out of Alabama, he came to the Steelers competing for the sixth and final defensive lineman spot on the 53-man roster, and did win it.
Still, he was slated to be a healthy scratch throughout his rookie season up until the point in Week Six when Stephon Tuitt was injured. That injury changed the complexion of the defensive line room, boosting Tyson Alualu into a starting position, giving Javon Hargrave a much more prominent role, and ultimately allowing Buggs to dress and play sparingly.
Sparingly it was. ‘Big Pooh’ only logged a total of 75 snaps on defense throughout the 10 games for which he was active, never seeing more than 13 snaps in any one single game. He logged 13 snaps in Week Eight, the first game after Tuitt’s injury, and would only see double-digit snaps in three other games, though he would play in every game.
Some may look at his three tackles over 75 snaps and conclude that he didn’t play well. Perhaps he did have his struggles at the beginning of the season, adjusting to NFL-level starting competition. But there was growth to be seen in him over the course of the year as he gained exposure.
It will be interesting to see how the 2020 season plays out for him. I expect to see him make some nice growth, yet it may still not be enough for him to earn a helmet on game day, because Alualu will remain the top backup at end, and the team seemingly doesn’t envision him playing inside at 290 pounds.