It’s a tough task and bumpy road on the journey to capturing a Super Bowl title. It’s something many fans and franchises haven’t experienced in a long while with some never experiencing a Super Bowl run at all. Defending a championship is nearly impossible, especially when the front office doesn’t successfully keep most the players in place that won the franchise that title.
A lot of people are surprised at how the Steelers have fallen from grace just 10 months after being on top of the football world, but if you look at the changing in personnel and the performance of the players from this year compared to last then it wouldn’t be such a surprise after all.
I could go into a long statistical breakdown but that’s boring so I’ll some it up in a couple paragraphs.
The Steelers didn’t pursue resigning most of their free agents in the 2009 off season and relied on their young draft picks just like they usually do every off season. Well, the Steelers system didn't work this year. Plugging in players that were back ups from the previous season will catch up eventually, especially when most those players are young and inexperienced. The same thing is happening to the New England Patroits.
In the off season Pittsburgh lost linebacker Larry Foote to the Lions and replaced him with a young guy (Lawerence Timmons), lost cornerback Bryant McFadden to the Cardinals and replaced him with a gay guy (William Gay, and no I’m not homophobic but I had to get a shot in at Gay because he’s played so bad this year), lost quarterback Byron Leftwich to the Buccaneers and relied on a running college quarterback/ Atlanta Braves baseball prospect to play when Ben got hurt (Dennis Dixon), lost wide receiver Nate Washington and replaced him with a rookie (Mike Wallace), don't have Willie Parker running well because of turf toe and Rashard Mendenhall isn’t carrying the load much better, lost defensive end Aaron Smith for the season after week five with a shoulder injury and haven’t found a solid replacement, and the biggest loss of all Troy Polamalu for most the season with bad knees and relied on career back up Tyrone Carter to anchor the defense.
Since some of the starters for this year were last season’s back ups that means the Steelers had to sign and rely on even worse players to fill in for their special teams unit. It made that phase of their team drop a couple notches and it’s been very evident to fans in Steel Town USA.
The Pittsburgh philosophy has always been to let most their free agents walk and replace them with cheaper players that fit into the Steelers scheme. It turns out that this season the front office management’s schematics of staying cheap didn’t pay off and that deserves a demotion.