2021 Offseason Questions: Which Steelers Starter Regressed Most In 2020?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five games, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason that resulted in their early exit.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Among those who entered the 2020 season as starters, who had the largest regression last year?

We have already talked about the Steelers’ most improved starter, so it seems natural to slip into the opposite end of the pool and seek out the starter who regressed the most—if there was one, though I’m sure given the nature of fandom, there will be no shortage of options cited.

We might as well get the two big ones out of the way first, I suppose, whom I assume will be the most popular answers: quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and center Maurkice Pouncey. The former missed most of the 2019 season due to an elbow injury, and had, let’s say, a statistically interesting season before tossing four touchdowns and four interceptions in their postseason loss.

Pouncey, who just recently announced his retirement, will for many people have the end of his career defined by bad snaps, and of course, snapping the ball over Roethlisberger’s head for a defensive touchdown on the first play of a playoff game, in your final game, doesn’t help with that.

If there other names to cite, I frankly have a hard time coming up with one on defense, unless you really want to go the Cameron Heyward route, and if you do then, well, be my guest. But there was also Matt Feiler’s move from right tackle to left guard, which could have gone a little more smoothly, and Vance McDonald’s final season as well.

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