Pittsburgh Steelers: Changes Will Occur, but Are Expectations Too High?

David MatuszakContributor IDecember 14, 2009

PITTSBURGH - 2009:  Bruce Arians of the Pittsburgh Steelers poses for his 2009 NFL headshot at photo day in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by NFL Photos)
NFL Photos/Getty Images

When I first started reading news that coaching changes are likely to occur in Pittsburgh this offseason, my day became that much better along with most of Steeler Nation. Steeler fans, however, may have their expectations a bit too high.

Since Mike Tomlin first put Bruce Arians in charge of the Steeler offense, there have been doubts in his playcalling abilities. Even last season, there were masses in Steeler Nation calling for a new coordinator.

All of that, was erased, or at least set aside, as the black and gold raised their sixth Lombardi Trophy.

Also forgotten with a Super Bowl win was the Steeler special teams, even though a better name would be the average teams.

This season, the special teams under Bob Ligashesky have dropped off considerably and may even have hit rock bottom.

These two coaches will have to prove themselves in a few short weeks, but it seems nothing short of an AFC Championship or a repeat Super Bowl win would let them keep their jobs.

Two down, one to go, but this one has something that the previous two can only wish to have. That is a reputation for the ages and a selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

That's right, defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau's reputation proceeds him.

If Tomlin were to let this legend go before Lebeau is ready to retire, it may just be the worst coaching decision in a long time.

If Dick Lebeau is let go and is not ready to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and then just go quietly into night, a team with a mediocre or even pitiful defense that has the capability of spending any money at all, will surely pick him up.

Even if Tomlin wipes the board clean and brings in a brand new staff in all three aspects of the game, Steeler fans need to be warned.

Changes take time.

With a new staff, is most likely going to result in a renovated, if not a brand new playbook. Training camp will give the team and coaches time to adjust, but until they go through a handful of games, they will not know for sure if it is going to work.

That means they might not make the playoffs in the 2010 season as well. Fans have to be prepared for that.

That is just looking at it from the coaching aspect. Now let's move to the players.

On the offensive side of the ball, it is clear they have what they need. Although Willie Parker will most likely be released after this season, Rashard Mendenhall can carry the Steeler running game.

Granted, they will have to find a capable second-stringer in case he goes down, but he is a very capable back.

They will also have to find a capable second-string quarterback. There is no guarantee Charlie Batch will be around next season, so they need to have someone waiting in the wings besides Dennis Dixon.

At the receiver position, unless Hines Ward decides to hang it up early or goes somewhere else, he and Santonio Holmes provide two key wideouts for Big Ben. Behind them there are young guys such as Mike Wallace, who have proven themselves capable.

Now let's look at the defense.

Most of the defensive players are in their early to mid-30s. Although Brett Favre is 40 and having one of the best seasons of his career, someone who takes many more hits, may not fare so well.

Troy Polamalu is no doubt their star defensive player. If history repeats itself, he will likely get hurt and be out for a week or two.

Who else is there besides the starters?

Ryan Mundy sticks out in my mind, and Ziggy Hood, who has not gotten a first-round draft pick's amount of playing time. But who else?

They have no one who has proven themselves a reliable player.

So, be warned, although changes will most likely occur in Pittsburgh this offseason, no matter how the rest of this one plays out, it may be another season or two before the black and gold make another Super Bowl run.


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