“Doing everything you can, and then doing a little bit more to help the team win is doing…
The stadium was packed on December 30 th , 2018. The Steelers had edged by their division foe and shifted their focus to the jumbotron to the matchup that would decide the next step of the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers: Browns-Ravens.
The season was filled with noise and was a roller coaster. Starting at a 1-2-1 start, to a six game winning streak that included a dramatic finish in Duval County, only to conclude with a 2-4 finish that included rage inducing losses. If Cleveland could pull the upset, those losses might not mean anything and redemption’s door would open into next week. We know how it went.
Fourth down, Baltimore brings the whole house… and it worked. Turnover, no chance, and no post season. A season that rebounded so well and collapsed just as easily was over for the Steel City. Anger swelled among fans and alumni—calling for Tomlin’s job, questioning Art Rooney II as an owner, and doubting the roster’s heart. It would only get more intriguing.
Following the season concluding press conference, the real wounds of the off season began just as quickly as the end of 2018. Antonio Brown wanted out—citing differences with his head coach and quarterback. From rejecting destinations to openly bashing the organization on
television, Brown’s departure was inevitable—even though for a moment he seemed
untradeable. Eventually, the Steelers were able to exchange the scraps of a high 3 rd and 5th round pick from the Raiders for the All-Pro receiver. Two All-Pro offensive weapons had now departed loudly. The nation finally asked: is this the end of an era for the Pittsburgh Steelers?
Yes. It was. However, 2018’s bright moments were a foreshadowing of things to come…
In nine victories, the Steelers threw the ball an average of 38 times a game. Conversely, in their seven other games, they threw the ball on average 48 times a game. You may see that and assume it’s not a big deal—it’s only 10 more passes. This shows however that the Steelers were at their best when they were balanced. Here is why the balance the Steelers offense had is important: in games where the offense achieved over 100 rushing yards, the Steelers were 6-0-1. When they rushed for less than 100 yards on offense? 3-6. The key to any offensive success is balance. Every quarterback, offensive coordinator, offensive line, running back, wide receiver, and product on offense is at their best when there is balance. That is what brought six Super Bowls to the Steel City—an offense that can score any way necessary.
One notable concern in 2018 season carried over from 2017: the defense. The once gritty defense was a shell of itself. A lot of folks forget the 2017 defense was very competent until the loss of Shazier. After that gut-wrenching loss, the defense was shell shocked. In 2018, it was not any better. Even though the defense had its positive moments during its win streak, it was overall a mess. It was incredibly difficult to replace Shazier. However, the offseason in 2019 has brought back some elements of the original Steel Infinity Gauntlet.
The Steelers lost two All-Pro’s at the return of (more than likely) two third round picks. In other words, if this was a pre-owned vehicle sale, you just bought a 1996 Lumina for about $12,000. Or did you? See, with the trade of Antonio Brown, the Steelers had decent value in the picks themselves. How? The Steelers had the flexibility to TRADE their 2018 first and second round picks along with a 2019 third round pick to make the biggest leap since 2003 (11 spots for Troy Polamalu) to select what some analyst called the 2 nd best players in the draft: Devin Bush. All while maintaining the original amount of day 2 draft pick amounts. This could be a huge steal. This also reflects the returning of an element for the Steelers. The will to win and win now. Make no mistake, Bush was their guy—and they were willing to do… Whatever it takes.
With the free agent signings of Donte Moncrief, Mark Barron, & Steven Nelson, not many heads turned quite as much as they did for Devin Bush. These are very underrated moves. They now give depth and experience at their positions. These guys are also hungry to prove their worth after their previous teams weren’t too motivated to resign them. Take these moves along with more intriguing draft picks, the Steelers do not look like a team in rebuild mode. They are a team with determination. Whatever it takes.
With depth upgraded on both sides of the ball, a new mentality in the front office, and the silencing of noise after these offseason moves, there is a new message coming out of the Steelers locker room: togetherness. Ben hosting his skill players on his lake property again, the defense having cookoffs, and all saying the same “cliché” messages… it could seem like not much, but make no mistake, this team is ready to rock and roll. After all, as James Conner said to Juju on a social media post, it’s time to, “Shock the world.”
After all the ups and downs fans have seen, there still be an immense amount of doubt surrounding the start of the Steelers 2019 season, With the questioning of their quarterback, wide receivers, defense, coaching staff, and front office, there is a new sense of urgency. The blueprint of balance is there, the entire team has a chip on their shoulders, and the return of an old saying is bringing fresh air into the organization… “Whatever it takes.”
This will be a make or break year for some. For others, it’s a chance at redemption and to prove something. However, if the team stays together, plays for better of the team and not their own ego, gives everything they can and a little bit more, then the beginning of a new era will commence. As the Avengers stated when they prepared to undo the snap of Thanos, the Steelers are ready to do…
… Whatever it takes.”