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: Stephon Tuitt
Experience: 7 Years
Stephon Tuitt became just the third defensive lineman in team history to record double-digit sacks in a single season when he compiled 11 of them in 2020. He joined Cameron Heyward, who recorded 12 a couple of years ago, and Keith Willis, who did it twice, including a career-high 14, back in the early- to mid-1980s.
It was all part of his long-awaited ‘breakout’ season last year, during which he finished with 45 tackles, including 10 for loss, 25 quarterback hits, and two forced fumbles, as well as three batted passes, with the majority of those figures representing career-highs in their given category.
Tuitt did this coming off of a torn labrum that he suffered in the sixth game of the 2019 season, at which point he was already having a career year. Through five-plus games, he had 22 tackles already with six tackles for loss and three and a half sacks.
That he was able to come back from that injury better than ever and play his healthiest season—he only missed one game for the first time since his rookie year, and that was because of Covid-19, rather than due to injury—makes it all the more notable.
Tuitt will only turn 28 years old in May, amazingly enough, so he is still very much right in the middle of the peak of his career. He remains under contract through the 2022 season, which puts him in line for a second extension next offseason, following Heyward’s footsteps along the way.
One could certainly argue that he outperformed Heyward this past season, at least in some categories, though it was still the latter who was recognized with Pro Bowl and All-Pro nods. Perhaps Tuitt’s time will come eventually—and it would help if they would recognize him as an interior defender like they do Heyward.