September 9 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Jason Worilds (93) reacts after his sack of Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (not pictured) during the first quarter at Sports Authority Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers: Last Year’s Failures Have Forced 2014 Offseason Moves


Back to back 8-8 seasons and consecutive years of watching the playoffs from the couch has prompted many offseason changes for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Free agency added seven new faces to the roster but the Steelers also let nine of their own free agents leave for other teams. The source of the franchise’s mediocrity and resulting offseason moves can be justified by the following 2013 failures:

1. SLOW RUNNING

2013 Total Rushing YPG Rank: No. 27

The Steelers were very aggressive in addressing their rushing game this off-season. They fired offensive line coach Jack Bicknell and upgraded by nabbing former Titans head coach Mike Munchak to fill the position. Munchak will try to boost the progress of a young and talented offensive line.

The Steelers also added running backs coach James Saxon, formerly of the Vikings. He will go to work with Steelers rookie of the year Le’Veon Bell. Bell ran for 860 yards and rumbled for eight touchdowns after missing the first three games of the season with injuries.

Mike Tomlin deftly coerced coveted free agent LeGarette Blount to help Bell reignite the running game in Pittsburgh. Blount averaged 5.0 yards per carry as part of the New England Patriots’ running back-by-committee system. He racked up almost as many touchdowns as Bell (7) in his limited opportunities.

2. HOLEY RUN DEFENSE

2013 Run Defense Rank: No. 21

The Steelers lost a starter (Brett Keisel), a former first-rounder (Ziggy Hood), and their top backup (Al Woods) from their below-average defensive line. They have added only one player, former Charger Cam Thomas, to replenish the losses. They will need the draft to reset and return to their once-vaunted run defense.

3. SAD SACK OF SHAME

2013 Defensive Sack Rank: No. 25 (34 sacks)

As bad as the Steelers’ sack efforts were in 2012, 2013 was even more pathetic. The injuries to outside linebackers LaMarr Woodley and Jason Worilds slowed the Steelers’ sack rate to an epic low.

To boost production, the Steelers cut Woodley and tagged Worilds, who led the Steelers in sacks (8). The Steelers brought in former Bills linebacker Arthur Moats to be a potential rotation player; however, the best chance to increase their sacks in the upcoming season is the advancement of their 2013 first round pick, Jarvis Jones.

Drafting another first round OLB is unlikely yet the Steelers won’t hesitate to add some competition. After all, Worilds is currently slated to be a free agent next season.

4. NOT SO SPECIAL TEAMS

2013 Mat McBriar Punting Average Rank: No. 33 (41.3 yd)

2013 Zoltan Mesko Punting Average Rank: No. 31 (42.5 yd)

2013 Kick Return YPG Rank: No. 15 (0 TDs)

The Steelers went through three punters and three primary kick returners in 2013. And to no one’s surprise, none of them will be in a Steelers uniform in this upcoming season.

Former LSU star punter Brad Wing was signed to a futures contract and the left-footed problem child will get a shot to reform and improve the Steelers dismal special teams impact. Wing was the considered the best punter in the 2013 class yet went undrafted. He was cut in training camp by Philadelphia.

The Steelers kick returners were slooooowwww but steady last year. Fans didn’t have to pray over their rosaries every time their main returner Felix Jones fielded a kick.

Unfortunately, they also got just as much viewing excitement from a touchback. Look for the Steelers to spend some of their nine draft picks on special teams.

Tags: Jarvis Jones LeGarrette Blount Mike Munchak Pittsburgh Steelers

  • bk

    I didn’t think it would be possible to take a step back, but, they did in the FA period… Mitchell? one
    good year playingb ehind the best front 7 in football.. Blount? Nothing special there.. I just don’t understand why they did not go after a top NT early… as it is, the front 3 will be a sieve again…
    Nothing to add any pass rush has been done and with the need for WR, CB, and TE help as well… sigh… I just don’t see any improvement… even with a great draft it will take those players a year or two to get up to speed. 6-10… coming our way

    • Erin McDowell

      They won’t improve from 8-8 unless they give Cam some help on the D-line and improve at ILB. I like the Mitchell and Blount upgrades; however, they are sure bringining in a lot of safeties for those pre-draft visits. They might not be done at safety–curious, given we gave away a pick for Thomas.

  • Carl Eagan

    The biggest failure the Steeler’s made last year and carried over to this year is retaining Tomlin to strut the sidelines, interfere with play calling both offensive and defensive and make stupid decisions. Never going to regain top form while he is in town.

    • Bob

      Could not agree more! Tomlin is a joke, but when you say anything negative about him you are called a racist. GET OFF IT! This guy has no clue of how to be a head coach. Maybe Munchak could take his place next year!