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: James Conner
Experience: 4 Years
How do you describe James Conner’s fourth season? It started out well enough, at least after he recovered from a brief ankle injury suffered in the opener, but it fizzled out over the course of the year—in no small part due to a lack of attempts.
All in all, the four-year veteran recorded 169 carries in 2020, a low number and yet the second-most of his career, putting up 721 rushing yards and averaging 4.3 yards per attempt, which is respectable but not stellar, and rushing for six scores. He also caught just 35 passes for 215 yards without scoring.
Yet between weeks two and seven, over a five-game span, he put up 442 rushing yards on 89 attempts with four scores, averaging just a hair under five yards per carry, and recording three 100-yard rushing games over that length of time. He also added 13 receptions for 104 yards.
Where was this the rest of the season? Over the final seven games that he played, including the postseason, he recorded just 70 more attempts for 260 yards, averaging 3.71 yards per attempt, with two touchdowns, and 22 receptions for another 120 yards.
Obviously, he would miss some time due to contracting Covid-19 and then he dealt with an injury, which could have played a factor in his decline, but the degradation of the offensive line and the continued moving away from the running game did not help matters, either.
At the end of the day, he is now through with his rookie contract with the Steelers, and they are unlikely to re-sign him. Even if they could afford to do so, it’s not exactly something that would seem to make sense for them given the other priorities they have elsewhere. And yet they don’t have any other viable options in the backfield. It’s a conundrum.