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: Isaiah Buggs
Experience: 2 Years
With a glut of players in a similar station in their career, I wasn’t sure about how I should order the remaining defensive linemen to be discussed in this exit meeting series, so I decided to simply go with who played the most defensive snaps, leaving second-year Isaiah Buggs as the next man up.
And yet that really doesn’t paint the full picture, because even though he (very modestly) outsnapped Henry Mondeaux and Carlos Davis, it was the former Alabama product who spent much of the second half of the season as a healthy scratch.
Drafted in 2019 in the sixth round as a slightly more athletic big-body who profiled as being capable of playing up and down the line of scrimmage, Buggs entered the 2020 season as the number five defensive lineman and the primary backup defensive tackle to Tyson Alualu, who was replacing Javon Hargrave. Buggs’ station dislodged Daniel McCullers from the role.
He would see about three dozen snaps of action over the course of the first two games, but his usage began to trickle after that. Soon, the Steelers called up Mondeaux from the practice squad and began dressing him for special teams.
Then Davis, the rookie seventh-round pick, got a helmet, and made a play or two. He started dressing over Buggs, who spent five of the final eight games as an inactive, all as healthy scratches. He did serve a very brief stint on the Reserve/Covid-19 List, but only as a close contact, for just three days, and did not miss a game due to that.
When all was said and done, he finished the season with 11 tackles on 131 defensive snaps over 10 games, registering one hit on the quarterback. He did not dress for the Steelers’ postseason game against the Cleveland Browns.
With that said, both Tyson Alualu and Chris Wormley are unrestricted free agents. If the Steelers fail to retain either one of them, there will be a place for Buggs quite readily, and that is assuming that Davis remains ahead of him or that they continue to use Mondeaux on special teams. Certainly, nobody should be giving up on him just yet.