The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted from the postseason in the opening round, which unfortunately marks a slight improvement from the past two seasons, during which they did not even qualify for the playoffs altogether. They have now done four seasons without securing a victory beyond regular season play.
Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.
They did manage to go 12-4 during the regular season, and secured their first AFC North title since 2017, posting a new franchise record by opening the season with 11 consecutive wins, but of course it all fell apart after that. Their only victory after that required a 17-point comeback.
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 2020 season.
Player: Ben Roethlisberger
Experience: 17 Years
Boy, is there a lot to say here. Ben Roethlisberger, returning at the age of 38 from a serious elbow injury to play his 17th season, certainly had an interesting year. While he posted 33 touchdown passes, the second-most in franchise history, and limited his interceptions to only 10, his play has been heavily criticized, to the point that a very vocal segment of the fan base is rooting for him to call it a career.
It’s not as though the concerns are not legitimate. He averaged just 6.3 yards per pass attempt, which is kind of ridiculously low. He led the league in batted passes in part because he was so intent on getting the ball out of his hands quickly that defenders were more apt to play the throwing lanes.
The real concern is the fact that he was so bad throwing down the field that it led to a misconception that the Steelers weren’t actually throwing down the field. In fact, Pittsburgh had among the most deep pass attempts in the NFL. it’s just that they were among the least efficient teams in doing it.
Roethlisberger did start to press down the field more as the season wore on, and with it came an increase in the turnover-worthy throw. He threw six of his 10 regular season interceptions in a five-weeks span, only finally ending the skid in their lone post-week-12 win, before throwing four interceptions in their playoff loss.
Many people are beyond the point of being willing to even entertain the question of whether or not Roethlisberger ‘has it’ anymore. The Steelers cannot afford to be so blithe about it. Moving away from a franchise quarterback is pretty much the single largest decision you can make for a football team, and often signals the closing of a ‘championship window’. His detractors, of course, argue that it’s already closed with him.