Pittsburgh Steelers closing in on a decade of disappointment

Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger Mike Tomlin (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers Ben Roethlisberger Mike Tomlin (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the NFL’s most winning franchises, but here’s why the last decade of play has been incredibly underwhelming.

It’s hard to have a lot of complaints about the way the Pittsburgh Steelers do business. Though we went through a bit of a rough patch in the 80s, the Rooney family has always made sure their team is among the most competitive in the league year in and year out.

The Steelers were fortunate enough to go from one great head coach to another from Chuck Noll to Bill Cowher and finally to Mike Tomlin. Though the Steelers have two Super Bowl victories and three appearances in the 2000s, it’s been nearly a decade since Pittsburgh has made a legitimate run.

Despite a remarkable start to Mike Tomlin’s coaching career that consisted of 5 playoff wins in 7 games, two Super Bowl appearances, and one Super Bowl victory in his first four seasons as head coach of the Steelers, things have been quite disappointing since.

Over the last nine seasons now, Pittsburgh has combined for just 3 playoff wins. Considering the amount of talent they’ve had over some of these seasons, this is completely inexcusable.

The Steelers invested heavily on offense a few years back. they had two All-Pro skill players in Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell as well as one of the league’s best offensive lines with three Pro Bowl players in Alejandro Villanueva, David DeCastro, and Maurkice Pouncey.

In addition, Pittsburgh had a top 10 quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger and an impressive supporting cast with skill players like Martavis Bryant and JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Defensively, Pittsburgh had nowhere near the talent they did in the early-to-mid 2000s, but players like Ryan Shazier and Cameron Heyward gave them a chance in nearly every game.

To win just three playoff games over the past nine years while having who many believe to be a top 10 head coach in Tomlin and a top 10 quarterback in Roethlisberger is hard to fathom.  Despite the plethora of talent on these teams and possessing some of the best offenses in the history of the Steelers, Mike Tomlin’s team vastly missed the mark.

2020 hopes to write a new chapter in a new decade. The Steelers defense is once again reaching a dominant status at the hands of players like T.J. Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Cameron Heyward. With emerging players like Devin Bush and Stephon Tuitt with solid veterans in Joe Haden and Steven Nelson, there’s no telling what they will be able to do in the next several years.

The biggest questions now come on the offensive side of the ball, as Ben Roethlisberger has now played just two games since 2018, and the offensive line continues to age. What Pittsburgh does have going for them, however, is a young and talented group of skill players with some upside.  Though they are lacking a true number one receiver, a squad consisting of JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae, Johnson, James Washington, Chase Claypool, and Eric Ebron may be able to make up for the loss of Antonio Brown.

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It’s hard to say whether or not this will be the year the Pittsburgh Steelers will finally get things back on track, but a new decade marks a fresh start. Let’s hope Mike Tomlin can get this group to play as his teams did early in his coaching career.