It’s hard to get too upset about players on a team that’s currently 10-3 and in the thick of the playoff race, but there have been some disappointing performances by some players on the Pittsburgh Steelers roster.
These performances aren’t always disappointing because they are purely bad. Some of them are disappointing due to injuries or decline.
Here’s a look at 10 players that have had a very rough year in Black and Gold.
McFadden was brough back from Arizona before the 2010 season, and he’s been mostly a disaster since then.
He showed flashes in camp this year of being in better shape and being more ready to be a starter, but he was injured early in the pre-season and then flamed out badly against Baltimore in Week 1. He hasn’t started a game since and has been relegated solely to special teams duty.
He’s had the worst fall from grace of any Steelers player this year and looks to be on the cut list for next year.
It’s a sad day in Pittsburgh when we can say Hines Ward has disappointed, but he has finally slowed down. Perhaps disappointed is too strong. He’s showing his age more than anything.
It seemed possible last season that Ward’s body was starting to betray him finally. His numbers were down across the board, and it seemed like he might finally be done.
He still managed to start the season as a starter opposite Mike Wallace, but it became clear early in the season that Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders had surpassed him. Lately, even Jerricho Cotchery has been getting more time.
It seems as though Ward will retire after the season as one of the most beloved and accomplished players in the franchise’s long history.
Smith is another stalwart veteran who is reaching the end of the line.
He was given one more shot at the starting defensive end job this year and held it briefly until going down with yet another season-ending injury. Smith is one of the best locker room guys in the league, but the team cannot afford to hold onto veterans who can’t play.
Smith will likely retire at the end of the year too as one of the most unsung players in NFL history. His work has paved the way for the team’s great linebackers, and he has been a force in his own right, yet has never been recognized outside of the Steel City.
Kemoeatu is having the same year on offense that Bryant McFadden is on defense. He started the season as a guy who was basically getting one more chance to prove himself as a starter.
He’s been awful. He’s lost his starting job through injury and through ineffectivness at different points, but he’s also gotten it back because of the continual injuries along the line.
Kemoeatu has never developed discipline, playing with a mean streak that causes awful penalties. He also has never developed as a run or pass blocker. He’s okay and serviceable against the run, but that’s about it.
He’ll be sent packing at the end of the year as the Steelers once again seem likely to revamp their offensive linemen.
The question I kept asking in August and September was, “They let Max Starks go so this guy could start?”
Scott was an abject disaster as a starting tackle. He almost single-handedly got Ben Roethlisberger killed. The Steelers line was panned across the league as one of the league’s worst.
If you have any doubt of Scott’s impact on that, take a look at what’s happened since. Starks has returned and the line has been almost excellent and certainly even better than it was in 2010. That seemed impossible in September.
Scott is not an NFL starter and has never developed any pass blocking skills. If you want a great example, watch the way he handled Dwight Freeney in the Colts game. He simply backed up and put out his hands. He never attempted to block him one-on-one.
Legursky hasn’t been bad, but he didn’t do what many expected of him this year: become a solution for the team at one of the guard spots.
First, Legursky was rough at right guard and was eventually (and mercifully) replaced by Ramon Foster, who’s been pretty good at the position. Then he rode the bench and stepped in for Chris Kemoeatu once he was finally benched.
The problem is that Legursky hasn’t been able to stay healthy either. The Steelers haven’t had a great look at him for their left guard spot because he hasn’t been able to be on the field. Now, he will be backing up at center and starting if Maurkice Pouncey can’t play.
Legursky will be an interesting offseason case.
I voted for Daniel Sepulveda out of training camp. I thought he was better than Jeremy Kapinos and that he’d be recovered fully from his knee injury.
I was fooled.
Sepulveda wasn’t able to make it through the year without another catastrophic knee injury. The Steelers were lucky to get Kapinos as his replacement. It seems that he will be the team’s long-term answer now.
Sepulveda is a great punter, but he has disappointed by having a career that’s been largely full of injuries.
I have always liked and respected Big Snack, but he’s another player who’s losing a step.
Hampton this year has been more concerned than ever about health. He was tentative for a long time because of legal chop blocks, but he’s worked through that issue to become more effective in recent weeks.
He has lost a step and isn’t as effective as he once was. His range has decreased some, which has led to some openings in the run defense that have created some problems.
The prevailing feeling is that Hampton will have a replacement drafted early next year and that Hampton won’t be brought back after his contract expires next season.
There were many people after his rookie season who felt that Sylvester would quickly emerge as the replacement for James Farrior, but his stock has dropped considerably.
Sylvester has been okay, but has struggled in spots and hasn’t shortened his learning curve this season. He was passed up on the depth chart by Larry Foote when Farrior was out and when Lawrence Timmons moved to the outside.
The ceiling is still high for Sylvester, but he has a lot of work to do before he can join the starting corps and be a true force at linebacker.
I am not disappointed at all with the results when Sanders is on the field.
I’m disappointed that he hasn’t been on the field that much. He’s been dealing with some nagging injuries, and it seems as though he might finally be healthy and ready for the game coming on Monday night.
Still, this season was an opportunity for him to seize the starting job opposite Mike Wallace. Instead, he’s been passed up by Antonio Brown and might now be the team’s third receiver for good. Still, with as much as Pittsburgh has aired it out, they will have plenty of opportunities for Sanders to impress.
While I thought this season was going to be bigger, I hope that next season he’ll blow everyone away.