Five Year Rebuild
Everyone remembers the fantastic finish to Super Bowl 43 against the Arizona Cardinals, as well as the overall valiant performance by a 2008 team that fought through much adversity during the 2008 campaign. There was an offensive line that was in transition and trying to find cohesion, a new offensive coordinator trying to get in sync with his Quarterback, all held together by a sound defense that was tough, tested, and had veteran leadership and play-makers from front to back. Still, they found ways to win when it mattered.
Following the loss in Super Bowl 45 to the Green Bay Packers and particularly the humiliating loss to the Tim Tebow lead Denver Broncos, it seemed clear to ownership and management that some significant changes needed to take place moving forward. The decision came from the top, Art Rooney 2 was tiring of seeing his investment at quarterback get beaten and battered every year, he knew that changing the style of offense being run would weigh heavily in favor of extending the career of his franchise signal caller.
The 2011 and 2012 Draft Class included four offensive lineman, on defense they drafted stud tackle Cameron Heyward. Offensive Coordinator Todd Hailey was also brought on board to replace the much maligned Bruce Arians, whose system seemed to have Big Ben on his back invariably entering playoffs games with sprained ankles, separated shoulders, elbows, and a myriad of other ailments that served as a deterrent towards their winning ways.
Enter running back Le’Veon Bell and slot receiver Markus Wheaton in 2013, and a dandy of a draft the following year with the addition of Linebacker Ryan Shazier and Defensive Tackle Stephon Tuitt, things are beginning to take shape. 2015 brought several significant players poised to take the places of aging veterans as well as skill positions. Outside Linebacker Bud Dupree showed in his rookie year he is a player the Steelers can develop and rely on for years to come. Receiver Sammy Coates and Tight End Jesse James both have shown they can be positive contributors on offense, both showed dedication and mark improvement throughout the season.
The 2015 season also saw the offensive concept take shape, the trust and continuity between Big Ben and Todd Hailey, and a sagging defense take another step towards regaining the dominance that has become their trademark. With the promise of this years draft class giving Steelers fans a good reason to feel optimistic, you have to applaud the efforts by the organization for the patience and insight into putting together the pieces for what could easily be a Championship team.
Not every organization can do this, one reason you’ll see certain teams go decades without even sniffing hopes of winning the grand prize. Much credit needs to be given to the Rooney family, the Coaching Staff, and the players themselves for buying into what is the status quo in the Steel City, and that is the pursuit of excellence.
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