Steelers/Week 17: End of Season, End of Era?

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Steelers/Week 17: End of Season, End of Era?
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Here’s my take on the Steelers’ 30-24 victory against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday afternoon:

1. Rejoice, Steelers World, you can tell your grandkids that you survived the biggest letdown season in franchise history!

Well, name a bigger one then.

In 2006, the Steelers tanked as the defending Super Bowl champions, but this season ranks worse than that one. A lot worse.

The ‘06 team opened the season with a lame-duck head coach (Bill Cowher) and a quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger) with physical issues. The ’09 team started the season with no such problems, unless you counted Big Ben’s legal controversy, which appeared to have no effect on the field.

Not only that, but this team had a bunch of Twinkies and Ho Hos on its schedule.

The 1995, 2001 and 2004 editions are on the short list, but for as many hearts as they broke, at least they advanced to the postseason. What did this one accomplish except a lot of anger and frustration and lousy football?  

I mean, this season was so godawful that Steelers World was forced to root for the New England Patriots and Oakland Raiders on the final day of the regular season.

Double yoi.

2. I don’t see any quick fixes here, either.  Like the ‘Burgh itself, the Steelers organization is slow and methodical, not quick and aggressive, salary cap or no salary cap.

This is an ancient team whose nucleus has seen better days. I’ll be surprised if it finishes better than 8-8 next season.

3. I hold general manager Kevin Colbert responsible for this nightmare of a season.

Colbert also brought back the same nucleus for a year ago. Bad idea. Championship teams don’t repeat with the same guys nowadays, especially ones that have a bunch of 30-somethings on their rosters.

If course, the one guy he should have brought back, cornerback Bryant McFadden, he allowed to walk out the free-agent door.  

4. I hold Mike Tomlin responsible for what happened this season.

When a plane is on autopilot like the Steelers were last season, it’s easy to fly the friendly skies. But when it hits turbulence, it takes experience and know-how to steer clear of trouble. Clearly, Mr. Unleash Hell didn’t have the experience to handle the kind of problems that confronted his team.

The head coach talked a good game, anyway.

5. I hold the players responsible for what happened this season.

This team had too many fat cats at the start of the season. (Yeah, LaMarr Woodley, that includes you.) There’s no excuse to lack motivation, especially when you’re the defending champs.

6. Can’t say enough good things about Roethlisberger, the one guy who held up his part of the deal throughout the season. When he drove the team to a late field goal despite a limp right arm, I thought that John Wayne had made a comeback.

Forget talent level. If everyone displayed the grit and determination that Big Ben did this season, then this team would be headed to the playoffs right now.

7. Why anyone outside of family, friends and opponents would want linebacker James Farrior and cornerback Deshea Townsend on the field in obvious pass situations beats the hell out of me. They killed the defense on third down time after time after time.

I mean, if you’re gonna get toasted, better to get toasted with young guys who at least will gain experience from it.

8. The company line was that Willie Parker had lost a step because of injuries, but in what may have been his final game in black and gold, Fast Willie put up 91 yards in 12 carries and didn’t look slow to me.

Parker and Tomlin had a personality clash, but ego shouldn’t interfere with the best interests of the team. Parker should have touched the ball a half-dozen times every game. Minimum.

9. I understand the urgency to get Rashard Mendenhall more involved, but the kid was handed the third-down job even though he wasn’t ready for it.

In the last two games, Mendenhall dropped one sure TD pass and botched another because he wasn’t aware of the sideline.

Meanwhile, the guy who would have been ideal for the role sat and watched the entire season. Stefan Logan is his name.

10. Congrats to shoulda-been Steelers head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who guided the Arizona Cardinals to the playoffs for the second time in as many seasons.

History says that one of the Super Bowl teams fail to make the playoffs the next year, but who would have thunk that the Steelers would be it?

(For the final Steelers offense grades and analysis, see Paul Ladewski's story in Bleacher Report on Tuesday.)

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