If there is one trait that defines the Pittsburgh Steelers, I believe, it is, for better or worse, their organizational belief in the importance in fielding the most competitive team that they can reasonably manage under the circumstances. In other words, they also make their best efforts to compete for a Super Bowl, year in and year out.
This is not necessarily the prevailing mindset, or so it seems, even if it might not always be stated. There certainly appear to be instances of ‘tanking’, for example, in which teams know that they do not have a championship roster, and so they effort to lose games in order to improve their draft standings, and clean our their roster of high-dollar contracts, or trade significant players for draft resources, in order to ‘rebuild’.
The Steelers don’t do rebuilds. They always talk about reloading, instead. And even in their current seemingly purgatorial position, that doesn’t change, as head coach Mike Tomlin confirmed during his post-season press conference earlier this week.
Asked if he saw it as a possibility of keeping the same standards of making deep postseason runs—which they haven’t done since 2016—given the potential changes that can take place this offseason, or if he sees it as a multi-year process of getting back to that level of competition, Tomlin was not entertaining that possibility.
“It is our desire to be competitive, to compete for and pursue a world championship each and every year”, he said in response to the line of questioning, which posed the possibility of a more long-term approach with short-term sacrifices. “As we begin this process to prepare for 2021, that will be our mindset, no doubt”.
In other words, the Steelers believed that they were fielding a competitive team this year. They will do whatever they can that is in their power to field a competitive team once again in 2021, and so on, and so forth.
Even if this ultimately proves not to be in the best long-term interests of the franchise, since it’s difficult to land blue-chip, franchise-defining players when you’re not drafting in the first half of the first round, especially if you happen to be looking for a quarterback.
I’m sure there are a number of fans who would like to see the Steelers cut bait on a bunch of contracts and sacrifice the next year or two with an eye toward the long-term good. I imagine that those fans are going to be disappointed.