5 New Years Resolutions for the Pittsburgh Steelers Heading into 2013
On Monday night, as the ball was dropped (by someone other than Antonio Brown or Rashard Mendenhall), Mike Tomlin, his staff and the rest of the Pittsburgh Steelers were probably sitting down to contemplate their resolutions for the new year.
Here's a look at five that they hopefully came up with in their musings.
Lose Some Weight
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While there are probably a few players that could drop a few pounds, this common New Year's resolution applies here more for losing the dead weight on the team's roster.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a lot of players that just simply need to go. They've got to stop holding onto the old, poor, huddled masses.
Guys like Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall are free to go anywhere they like, but the doors to Pittsburgh should be firmly shut and locked behind them. Neither player did anything to distinguish themselves in 2012, and their attitudes are seriously in question.
Likewise, their Father Time approach to backups must change. Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich must be sent off into the sunset. Larry Foote, who was a starter by default this year and played well, could be a useful piece at the right price, but may also be simply ready to hit the wall.
Casey Hampton isn't a backup either, but Father Time is going to catch him. He wants to keep playing, but that can't happen on a defense that needs to get much younger.
Get out of Debt
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This is another popular resolution among the masses, but applies here as well to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the salary cap situation they face early in the year.
The Steelers are facing their own, private fiscal cliff. They project to be well over the stagnant salary cap of around $121 million. They'll need to shave around $16 million just to get to the cap and probably another $4 million to $6 million to get under it enough to operate.
There are a bunch of tools for general manager Kevin Colbert and team cap guru Omar Khan to work with here. He can restructure big contracts with Ben Roethlisberger, Lawrence Timmons and Troy Polamalu. He can cut players like James Harrison and pursue more inexpensive replacements like Jason Worilds.
The Steelers aren't usually in cap trouble. Every year, it seems like they start so far over the cap only to come out just fine. This would be a good year, however, to get out from under a couple of deals that now look a bit silly.
Learn Something New
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Almost everyone starts the new year looking to learn guitar or dance or some other talent that has eluded them for years. For the Pittsburgh Steelers, it is time to teach some old dogs new tricks as well.
For quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, it is time to learn that fooling with your health is a losing proposition. Roethlisberger limped to the finish again in 2012 and was obviously still hurt when he returned to action to revive the team's playoff hopes.
Instead, he helped squash those.
For Todd Haley (if he stays), it is time to learn about his talent pool. Haley seemed to forget at midseason that he had a Pro Bowl tight end in Heath Miller and speedy receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders.
He'd do well to remember that next season when the Steelers can't rely on the run every first and second down to gain yards.
For Dick LeBeau, it is time to learn a new defensive scheme. If LeBeau chooses not to retire, he needs to revamp his system to include necessities like press coverage, new exotic blitzes and heavy pressure on quarterbacks.
Spend More Time the Right Way
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Everyone wants to spend their time wisely in the new year. You just never know when you'll need that timeout that a day off can bring or when you'll miss something because you were running behind.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have a fine coach in Mike Tomlin, but their fine coach makes some fine mistakes.
One of his biggest errors comes in game management and particularly the clock. Tomlin uses timeouts poorly and often has none left in a game-changing situation where one is necessary.
In 2013, Tomlin must work on every aspect of how he coaches on game day. If he can improve how he handles timeouts, challenges and motivation of players, the Steelers can once again return to the top of the league.
Be the Best
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To be the best, you have to beat the best the old cliche goes.
Well, to be the best, you also have to beat the worst.
In 2012, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost to Oakland, Tennessee, San Diego and Cleveland. None of them had a winning record. None of them were confused with a successful team at all, except for the day they played the Steelers.
Losing to bad teams or keeping them close in games is a hallmark of Mike Tomlin's tenure and a bad one. It's time for that to become a focus for change.
Beating the teams that are worse than you is how you do business in the NFL. Upsets happen, but they shouldn't be practically pre-ordained.