Something’s got to give with everything going on with the Pittsburgh Steelers

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 10: Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts to a penalty flag in the second half during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on December 10, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 10: Head coach Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts to a penalty flag in the second half during the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on December 10, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a mess. After a 7-2-1 start, they finished 2-4 the rest of the way and missed the playoffs. The drama seems to never go away. Now Antonio Brown has reportedly requested a trade. Something’s got to give, right?

The Steelers are one of the most talented teams in the NFL. They have a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback, a duo at receiver that any teams would kill for, elite offensive and defensive lines, and one of the league’s best pass rushes. Don’t forget the season James Conner had in his debut as a workhorse back in the NFL.

A team with this much talent shouldn’t be struggling this badly. They DEFINITELY should not be sitting on their butts at home watching the NFL postseason. This team was considered a Super Bowl contender by most, including yours truly, and now they can’t even win a division that saw the Bengals get decimated by injury, the Browns go through a coaching change and have a rookie quarterback that still needs more seasoning, and a Ravens team that took half a season to figure out a winning formula after a quarterback change.

Something has to give with this team. Loads of people are calling for Mike Tomlin’s head. People call him an enabler and say he’s lost the locker room. Speculate all you want, but who do you replace him with? And more importantly, who can come in and keep the Big Ben drama down and star receivers from throwing two-year-old type tantrums?

There are problems in Pittsburgh that go way beyond Mike Tomlin. He does have a hand in this. He coached the worst regular season game of his career in Oakland. His clock management and challenging capabilities are pedestrian at best. But Tomlin did the right thing with Antonio Brown this last week. For a player to pull what he pulled, a benching was the perfect punishment.

Mike Tomlin said in his press conference on Wednesday that the Steelers will not resist change for 2019. No specifics were given, but clearly Tomlin knows the circus the 2018 season was cannot be repeated in 2019 or any future seasons. Tomlin is a smart guy and maybe him continuing to get burned by his star players has made him realize the culture in Pittsburgh needs to change.

When it comes to Antonio Brown, if we haven’t learned it already, we know it now – Antonio Brown is all about himself. When the team was losing early in the season and he wasn’t getting his numbers, he was throwing tantrums. When the team was losing later in the season, but he WAS getting his numbers, he was quiet. I believe Antonio Brown wants to win, but I further believe that Brown’s priority is for his own brand over winning for the Steelers brand.

Although Tomlin denies it, there was a report that Antonio Brown requested a trade from the Steelers. Either way, the trade is something they need to at least consider. Currently, the culture in Pittsburgh is filled with drama and surrounded by noise. Noisy teams don’t win and the Steelers have been and always will be about winning. In order to change the culture, you’ve got to turn down the noise.

Now, the Steelers could fire Tomlin. They could bring in a coach and fully hope and believe he can grab a hold of players like Antonio Brown and make them become much more docile and focused on winning. Unfortunately, with Brown’s track record, you don’t see any reason the noise could be turned down, especially with a new coach.

The other option would be to trade Brown. They’d have to take some sort of a cap hit (it’s highly debated depending on who’s report you see of how much it would be exactly) and they’d be losing arguably the best receiver in football. But they’d get a high return for him that they could help build other parts of the team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Steelers have a budding star in JuJu Smith-Schuster, so it’s not like they would be completely void of high-level talent at that position.

The Steelers’ problems go beyond Tomlin and Antonio Brown’s drama. Ben Roethlisberger isn’t void of fault either. He doesn’t cause anything close to the amount of drama like a Le’Veon Bell or Antonio Brown, however, he does need to watch what he says publicly about his teammates.

Now, the media puts their own spin on what is said publicly, but Ben should know that by now. When the media portrays him for calling out players like James Washington for not running through a pass in Denver, they simply forget how Ben went to him afterward and doubled-down on how he still has confidence in him and will continue to throw to him because he believes in him.

Ben has been in the league more than long enough to know, from his own experience, it’s not what you do or say, it’s all about how it looks. When you constantly talk about minor things players or coaches do that are any form of public criticism, you get portrayed as a finger-pointer and the media immediately forgets about all the times you’ve owned up to a bad game.

The front office and ownership has to have some share of the blame too. Ultimately, what transpires comes all the way back to the top. Kevin Colbert has helped draft several first-round talents that have not translated to helping the Steelers defense get better, especially in pass defense and clutch situations. Art Rooney II has to get to a point where he needs to put his foot down after nearly a decade of underachieving.

dark. Next. How the Steelers improve by moving Antonio Brown

The truth is no one in the Steelers’ organization is blameless for this mess they are in. It goes all the way from the top down to the players on the field. Changes have to be made. The culture has to change. Quiet teams win. Noisy teams go home. Change the culture and cut out the noise.