For an organization as stable as the Pittsburgh Steelers, change is not always easy. But after back-to-back missed playoff appearances, change became necessary.
Following the 2012 season, general manager Kevin Colbert acknowledged in his end-of-season press conference that the Steelers got too comfortable with their winning ways, via Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"When you're 12-4 and a playoff team, sometimes you get mesmerized by your success and you get a little reluctant to change," Colbert said. "If we don't change a roster that produced 8-8, we'd be silly to expect a better result."
Well, he modified the roster, but it was still not enough. Colbert had to take drastic measures to upgrade the personnel, and that is the approach that he took this offseason. He parted ways with the dead weight on the roster and used free agency and the draft to replenish the roster with youth and speed.
When the dust finally settled, over 40 players currently on the 90-man roster were not on the team last year. It’s almost as though he took the approach of the man who helped put the Steelers on the map
When first hired by the Steelers, Hall of Fame head coach Chuck Noll had a message for his team, described in America’s Game: The Super Bowl Champions by Andy Russell (h/t Joshua Hayes of Bleacher Report):
Look, I’ve been watching the game films since I took the job. And I can tell you guys that the reason you’ve been losing is not because of your attitude, or your psyche, or any of that stuff. The problem is you’re just not good enough.
You know, you can’t run fast enough, you can’t jump high enough, you’re not quick enough. Your techniques are just abysmal. I’m probably going to have to get rid of most of you...and we’re going to move on.
Colbert’s moves may not have been that drastic, but the principles behind them are the same today as they were in 1969—the Steelers were not good enough and they need better players to compete.
Only time will tell if the Steelers will be in contention for the playoffs in 2014, but what we do know is that there’s a ton of new faces on the roster heading into training camp. While many of them will not make the team, nearly two dozen players will compete for a key role or could eventually develop into a starter in the future.
Here is a breakdown of the new faces who will be worth watching this summer.