Anonymous sources blasting teammates. ... Players apparently out of shape and not focused on winning. ... Defensive gurus exhibiting delusional behavior.
It's all pretty revealing and alarming.
Last season's 8-8 third-place finish in the AFC North was not a fluke. The Steelers have real problems.
Mike Tomlin is a great coach, but he needs to regain the pulse of the team. Leaders have to step up this offseason.
The 2012 campaign was a topsy-turvy and tumultuous one for the Steelers. Receiver Mike Wallace's selfish and clueless contract dispute -- which didn't result in him gaining one extra penny -- set the tempo. After missing the offseason program, Wallace was ill-prepared for the new offense. He dropped passes and had a miserable -- and likely final -- season in Pittsburgh.
Running back Rashard Mendenhall was suspended for a game for not being a good teammate -- for essentially not giving a damn. After Ben Roethlisberger threw a decisive late-season pick against the Dallas Cowboys, a blame game with combustible offensive coordinator Todd Haley ensued. Troy Polamalu couldn't stay on the field. James Harrison and Woodley couldn't make a dent in the opposition's offensive line, let alone strike fear in opposing quarterbacks like they had in the past.
Forget the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens -- in the AFC North, the Bengals are better than the Steelers. They were better at this time last year, when the Steelers were licking their wounds after Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncosbeat them in the playoffs; they were better in the preseason, when I picked Pittsburgh to finish third in the division; and they were better in Week 16.
Last season was not a mirage. There are personnel issues, chemistry issues. This team is living in the past.
Roethlisberger is a future Hall of Famer at quarterback. Now, tell me what else you like about the roster.
Yes, 2012 first-rounder David DeCastro, who was injured all year, should come back. But this offensive line had (and has) deeper issues.
General manager Kevin Colbert won't pay Wallace what he wants -- and he shouldn't, not with his ridiculous asking price. However, this means that in consecutive years, Pittsburgh's receiving corps is going to lose Hines Ward and Wallace. Tight end Heath Miller, meanwhile, is coming off a knee injury, carries a high cap number (almost $8 million) and could potentially be cut.
Mendenhall is unreliable on and off the field. I like Jonathan Dwyer, but is he the workhorse to establish a running identity around?
As things stand now, Pittsburgh is destined for another frustrating campaign. Colbert must cut the cord on the past and eliminate the dead weight for 2013 and beyond. He shouldn't go into rebuilding mode, but the Steelers do need a bit of a makeover.
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Pittsburgh was flawed going into the season, with aging stars and a rare lack of talent, and conducted a failed chemistry experiment. Choosing Haley to run the offense while letting Bruce Arians go was a colossal mistake.