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: Jaylen Samuels
Experience: 3 Years
It’s time to talk about everybody’s favorite running back, Jaylen Samuels, the player that they liked so much after his rookie season that they hired his college position coach to come in as their new running backs coach.
Okay, that’s not exactly what happened, but Eddie Faulkner did coach Samuels at NC State, and was hired after Samuels’ rookie season in 2018. Which remains easily his best year in the league, though he did a bit better this past season than in 2019.
That was in part because he only saw 94 snaps all season. Samuels played close to 600 snaps combined between the 2018 and 2019 seasons, with 362 snaps coming in the latter campaign, but he put up some of the lowest efficiency numbers in the league.
He didn’t get much work in 2020, netting just nine carries, and producing 28 yards. One carry went for a first down, with his longest run being six yards. But of course, with such a small sample size, anything can happen. He also caught nine passes for 45 yards. He was charged with three drops, which is really bad on just 14 targets.
Samuels had at least two touchdowns in each of his first two seasons, but he failed to get into the end zone in 2020. He did, however, continue his role on special teams, again logging more than 100 snaps in that role, even finishing with a tackle.
With James Conner almost sure to leave in free agency, you can bet money on the Steelers adding another running back, likely through the draft. Though they kept four running backs on the 53-man roster this past season, they won’t be guaranteed to do so again. With Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland more experienced, Samuels’ job will be under threat, to speak the obvious.