After taking heat through much of the first half of the season, the Steelers’ offense provided plenty of points to win a game against the New England Patriots. This time, however, it was the defense that broke down in a big way, giving up 55 points.
Now, Sunday’s loss to the Patriots can’t be put 100% on the defense. The offense had its problems as well, especially in the turnover department, but there’s no denying the huge roster holes the Steelers are currently coping with.
A major decision is looming at the end of the season in Pittsburgh. Actually, there’s a number of huge decisions. It’s very unlikely the Steelers will dismiss head coach Mike Tomlin, but some of his assistants are on less firm ground.
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is 76 years old, and coming off of such a terrible season, it’s not ridiculous to think the Steelers may want to start fresh on defense with some new coaches and certainly some new players. LeBeau may be asked to step aside, although it’s hard to imagine Pittsburgh truly forcing him out.
The story is completely different on offense. It’s been well documented that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t exactly love offensive coordinator Todd Haley. Since Pittsburgh has picked up its game on offense, Haley must feel a little more comfortable, but again, someone’s head has to roll following this season, and if it’s not the head coach’s head, it may fall to the coordinators.
Usually over the past several decades, the Steelers have been able to keep up with age by bringing in new talent, but over the past couple of seasons, the outgoing talent has been greater than the incoming replacement talent. The Steelers offense has some play makers, and their quarterback certainly isn’t the problem, but they need an infusion of youth and an exile of age. That type of scenario usually signals some sort of rebuild, and the Steelers certainly appear to be a team in need of a rebuild.
The Steelers are one of the most stable organizations in professional sports, so you can bank on a sound decision being made about the direction of the franchise at the end of the year. Pittsburgh won’t jump the gun on any major changes, but changes are a certainty at this point. The Steelers still have a bright future, but that’s a future beyond 2013. This season, on the other hand, is over. There will be no playoff celebration in Pittsburgh this year.