Steelers fans: Not going to get better
PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Steelers are 2-5, and are likely to be 2-6 after this Sunday’s visit to New England.
They’re likely to be under .500 when the season ends.
In a lot of places, that kind of season gets someone fired. But it won’t happen here because the Steelers don’t operate that way.
At least that’s the conventional wisdom.
But does it still hold true?
Conventional wisdom also holds that Steelers ownership doesn’t meddle, and that’s not true any more.
Art Rooney II hasn’t been shy about offering his input on football-related matters. He’s talked about the need to get back to running the ball effectively. Substantial circumstantial evidence indicates he decided offensive coordinator Bruce Arians had to go.
It was also Rooney’s idea to make the clumsy and false announcement that Arians had “retired,” a ruse that was exposed as soon as Arians took a job in Indianapolis.
The Steelers look unprepared and disorganized on the field, and things aren’t a lot better in the front office.
Isaac Redman went from starting running back to gone. Jonathan Dwyer was cut in training camp, then returned.
Tuesday’s decision to cut the inconsistent Zoltan Mesko means the Steelers now have their fourth punter since training camp.
The personnel decisions suggest there is no plan. They’re making it up as they go along, finding waiver wire options that suddenly look better than what they have.
The Steelers have had down years before, but they’ve rebounded.
Does anyone think that’s likely to happen now? Assuming they finish out of the playoffs, it’s unlikely Ryan Clark and Brett Keisel will be back. Troy Polamalu’s future would be in question, too.
That would potentially mean three more starters on defense have to be replaced. They’re not going to do that with a single draft.
Rookies represent risk. The Steelers headed into this season secretly counting on Le’Veon Bell to be their No. 1 running back and No. 1 draft choice Jarvis Jones to be a pass-rushing specialist at linebacker.
Bell has shown some signs of his ability, but not consistently. Mike Tomlin announced on Tuesday that Jones won’t start this week because of his poor play in the loss at Oakland.
The Steelers have a $100 million quarterback and not much else right now. Some of their better players are near the end of the line. Not many of the younger players have stepped up and established themselves.
The team is at the bottom of its division. It’s a mess.
So what happens? Does ownership figure this is inevitable, that the salary cap and poor drafting position eventually catch up to teams after a run at the top?
Or do the Rooneys figure they’ve provided Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert with the resources to do better than what’s on the field these days?
In the old days, the Steelers were slow to make changes. This is a different NFL. If the losing continues, don’t automatically dismiss the possibility of major changes.
Mehno can be reached at email@example.com