Morning links: Steel City wake-up
The Steelers have said they will still stay focused on finishing the season strong. But with the playoffs no longer a realistic possibility, questions have already started swirling about the future. The Steelers have a mix of veterans and younger players still in their first contracts who may be playing their final season in Pittsburgh.
The offseason will be marked by turnover following a second consecutive non-winning season, and the secondary is likely to be overhauled as the Steelers try to get younger and shed salary.
Troy Polamalu may have to take a pay cut to return to the Steelers, and the veteran strong safety is coming off an inconsistent performance against the Dolphins. Polamalu returned an interception for a touchdown, but he also dropped a sure interception and couldn’t make the tackle that would have prevented tight end Charles Clay from scoring the game-winning touchdown.
Polamalu took the blame for not filling a gap on Daniel Thomas' 55-yard run, which set up Clay’s second touchdown of the game. But a film review of the Steelers’ 34-28 loss revealed that Polamalu was not at fault for what turned out to be the play of the game.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger took the loss hard, and during his postgame interview he provided more grist for those who love to psychoanalyze his relationship with offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
When asked why the Steelers got away from running the ball after having success with their ground game early, Roethlisberger told reporters to ask Haley. I’m still not sure what to make of that perceived dig but it is another indication that the two have a frayed relationship and one that could compel the Steelers to make a change at offensive coordinator after the season.
Roethlisberger has vowed that the Steelers won’t go through the motions in the final three weeks seasons, and don’t expect the team to make a lot of changes as much sense as it seemingly makes to take a long look at some younger players. Mike Tomlin, like most, if not all, football coaches, simply isn't programmed that way.