The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted before they even reached the postseason, which unfortunately marks the sixth consecutive season in which they failed to win a postseason game—tying their longest drought of the Super Bowl era. Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.
The Steelers did arguably perform at or above expectations this year by going 9-8 and nearly making the postseason at all, a reflection of just how much talent they lost during the offseason, from Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Haden to most of their wide receiver room, not to mention Stephon Tuitt’s decision to retire.
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 2022 season.
Player: Kevin Dotson
Experience: 3 Years
Of the five starting offensive linemen the Steelers put on the field last season, left guard Kevin Dotson may be the least likely to still be there in 2024. He’s the only one within that group who is only under contract through next season, after all, so we can start there. But he may also be the most likely to be replaced in the starting lineup for 2023.
That’s not to say he’s been some kind of disaster, although he had some rough games during the 2022 season. A third-year veteran, he started every game, an important step for him given that he missed nearly half the season a year ago with a severe ankle sprain.
Logging every offensive snap of the season, Dotson did improve as the season progressed, particularly as a pass protector. But given the expectations that were set for him as a rookie with some very encouraging cameo appearances as a reserve, it’s hard for fans to forget that.
Arguably the biggest issue he has is cutting down on the penalties. He had among the most in the league last season with 11. Three of them were for being ineligible downfield on a pass play, but to be fair to him, those are largely procedural issues within the offense. Another was a justified roughness penalty for defending a teammate.
But he was flagged for four false starts and four holds. Only five linemen were flagged for holding more (Dan Moore Jr. was also flagged four times), and his four false starts also ranked pretty high. Combined with both, that’s simply too many errors.
The left side of the line in particular really needs to cut down on the penalties, especially given how little margin for error this offense has. When they’re not hurting themselves they can drive the length of the field, but it’s hard to avoid a penalty or two that sets you back on 17-play, 85-yard drives.