Great Scot: Should Pittsburgh Steelers tank the season for a high draft choice?


Sep 29, 2013; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) is pressured by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson (50) in the NFL International Series game at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers fans, it was the week we’d all been looking forward to: the bye week!

Seriously though, the Steelers are a team that absolutely needed this bye week to happen early in the season. It will allow to take a step back, reevaluate and try to fix some of the problems that are ailing the team. Already, we’ve seen the team make a trade for former top-five pick Levi Brown, an offensive tackle from the Arizona Cardinals.

This has obviously been an area the team has identified as being a huge need and it moves Mike Adams to the bench. Left tackle is a hugely important position on the offensive line and Ben Roethlisberger keeps getting planted game in and game out. For the Steelers to having any sustainable success, they will need to keep Ben upright and less pressured.

No one is saying that Brown is the answer nor is anyone thinking the Steelers will go on a huge run and finish the season 10-6, which would require a 10-2 run. It got me thinking though that maybe the team should tank the rest of the season and get a really good draft position and complete the rebuilding process for next season and beyond.

Imagine the Steelers got a top-five pick and a team, say the Cleveland Browns, really wanted a player in their spot. The Browns now have two first round picks with the trade of running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts. Despite the Browns playing very well in the games since the trade, they still figure to finish with a top 15 pick and the Colts look to have a top 15 pick.

If the Steelers could get themselves two top 15 picks plus an early second-round pick, they could fill some holes quickly and get a lot younger, too. The coaches, front office and players will never say they are giving up any season to try and succeed for another season, however maybe that’s what they are thinking to themselves. Maybe the Steelers can use the remainder of this season strictly as an evaluation of players and positions where change MUST happen moving forward.

Knowing the coaches and players aren’t going to think this way, this year’s team has got to turn it around really fast and it will start against a team they should be able to defeat.  The New York Jets host the Steelers this Sunday with seasons on the line for both teams.  A loss for the Black and Gold will send the team to an 0-5 start while the Jets would fall to 2-3 and further behind the AFC East-leading New England Patriots.

Let’s be honest here. The Patriots and Denver Broncos seem to be the class of the AFC this year and I don’t know even if the Steelers were playing their A games they could defeat either team. This brings up another point that benefits the Steelers to lose as much as possible this season to get a better draft position.

If anyone could have honestly said the Steelers can stand up to the elite teams in the league this season, I’d be shocked to hear it. I figured if the team could stay healthy all season, they can finish with a 10-6 record and make the playoffs. However, three major injuries in Game 1 has had the domino effect in a very negative way.

I understand the frustration even over the idea of tanking a season because we get so few games per year to root on the home team, but the Steelers have always been good at reloading quickly and some of the picks this past draft will go a long way to restoring them back to glory.

There are also some serious issues the team could help by having a few early draft picks, so maybe you should keep this in mind for every game the Steelers do lose. It’s a potential benefit for the future.

This article isn’t meant to be so pessimistic, but rather a look at keeping a certain mindset that could help ease the pain of starting 0-4 and the probability of finishing with a top 10 draft choice, and possibly in the top five. Steelers fans aren’t used to having these types of seasons, but when they do happen, the team benefited greatly from it for years to come.

So at least take that into each game and each loss as it’s another step towards rebuilding for another Super Bowl ring. If the team were to turn it around and finish respectable – or even making the playoffs – it would be an incredible run and a storybook-type season. Gee, imagine that, potentially two storybook seasons in the Burgh in one year?