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: Tyson Alualu
Experience: 11 Years
Who could have predicated this sort of season out of Tyson Alualu at the age of 33? Shifting inside to nose/defensive tackle in 2020 in order to help fill the void left in the wake of Javon Hargrave’s departure in free agency, the long-time veteran put together one of the best seasons of his career, and in ways that don’t necessarily show up statistically.
Logging 361 snaps, which is actually the second-fewest he has had in his four seasons with the Steelers, Alualu produced 38 tackles, including four for lost yardage, with two sacks, five quarterback hits, a forced fumble, and a career-high five batted passes.
But it was his performance as a traditional two-gapping interior defender that really was noticeable when you watched him. His statistical output is rather solid, all things considered, but it doesn’t capture everything that goes into the sort of role that is asked of a player at his position.
And the Steelers did use more base this past season than they ordinarily do. He played a traditional nose tackle role for a pretty good chunk of his total snaps, and he proved that he was very much up to the task of executing those responsibilities.
Of course, the luxury of a player like him is that he can move up and down the line, playing any position in base or in sub-packages. He’s not and never has been a plus pass rusher, but he can serve in schemes and stunts, and he is an above average run defender.
The defense clearly took a hit when he suffered a knee injury late in the season, and truthy be told, he wasn’t quite the same when he returned either, suggesting the injury was bothering him. But the Steelers would be foolish if they didn’t try to re-sign him and plug him back in the middle at the age of 34 in 2021.