The Pittsburgh Steelers’ rockstar locker room could be one of their biggest flaws as a team.
The Steelers have a star-studded roster. Guys like Le’Veon Bell, Ben Roethlisberger, and Antonio Brown are all at, or near the top of their respective position. They are just three of multiple players I would like to see more of a team centered approach from.
Since the team’s early exit in the playoffs people have been questioning the reason behind the loss to Jacksonville. Questionable statements made by members of the team are commonly brought up in these discussions.
In the week leading up the game, Bell took to Twitter to say: “I love round 2’s…we’ll have two round 2’s in back to back weeks.” Comments like this have led many people to question if the team was looking ahead to the Patriots.
Head Coach Mike Tomlin is not making the situation any better. Earlier in the season, he made comments to Tony Dungy that suggested he was already taking a postseason matchup with the Patriots for granted. These comments and, apparent lack of discipline for players causing distractions make me question Tomlin’s handling of the team.
Ben Roethlisberger’s public retirement consideration last year cast a shadow over the entire offseason. I’m sure that the front office, liked knowing what was going on in Ben’s head, but a public announcement wasn’t best for the team. It’s not hard to see why Ben has been considering retirement. The only concern is that he is no longer completely committed to football, and to the team.
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Martavis Bryant is a player whose off the field antics have detracted from his play on the field. He has had multiple substance abuse suspensions in his past including missing the entire 2016-2017 season. The more recent issue was his public complaining this season. He expressed a desire to be traded midway through the season, making waves throughout the organization.
Star running back Le’Veon Bell has repeatedly caused problems with off the field antics. He has had substance abuse related suspensions as well. He was responsible for the tweet before the playoff game, which was not even his biggest mistake of the week. Showing up late to the team’s walkthrough he showed a complete lack of respect for his team and coaches. A team needs a better example of someone who is one of your most talented players.
The question is if any of this is as big of an issue as it is made out to be. The more issues like this that crop up the more concerning it is for Steelers fans. However, this may not be as big of an issue as it sounds like. In fact, the offense is where most of these questions arise from, but that side of the ball performed very well against the Jaguars talented defense. The defense was a bigger issue in the game. The issue may lie in the talent on hand, or coaching, rather than team chemistry, and dedication.
Whether, or not it was the issue in the loss to Jacksonville the culture needs to be fixed. The first solution would be for Tomlin to crack down on the antics. The best coaches would not allow someone to get away with something like showing up late to a walkthrough. This was evidenced by Bill Belichick’s willingness to bench Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl. Tomlin needs to take control of his players and instill punishments for those who hurt the team.
It also might be necessary to restock the roster with high character players. This cant happen overnight, and will require years of drafting the right players, but will help down the road. This process could be jumpstarted by getting rid of players who have been problems. The team could refuse to pay Bell, and allow him to walk. Also, Bryant could be traded, Buffalo was one team that reportedly had interest midseason. This all depends on how the front office values their on-field impact compared to their damage to the culture.
It really doesn’t matter fans view them, what really matters how the front office views them. This offseason will show how serious Pittsburgh thinks this problem is, and if they think it needs to be fixed.