With the offseason underway it’s time for my annual article where I predict what’s going to happen for our beloved Pittsburgh Steelers. In recent years I correctly predicted the retirement of Heath Miller and incorrectly predicted the firing of Danny Smith. What am I thinking for this offseason? Read on…
Prediction #1 Danny Smith Will (finally) Be Relieved of his Duties as Special Teams’ Coach. I’ve gone over my reasoning in numerous spaces on this site so let me give you the Readers Digest version. The kick return unit is atrocious. Guys aren’t held accountable when they commit penalties or miss tackles and he isn’t very creative. Does that cover it?
Prediction #2 William Gay Retires. The long-time Steeler who had a brief hiatus in Arizona has been a consummate professional. He still has skills and ability especially in zone coverage but I think he’s regressed when forced to cover one on one. The AFC Title game loss revealed to me at least that he has started to really slow down.
At 32, he isn’t exactly “old” but I just have a hunch. He’s got some Super Bowl rings and is pretty healthy overall and the way these guys have to think today I wouldn’t be surprised to see him retire.
Prediction #3 The Defense Will See Coaching Changes. Even before his arrest, Outside Linebackers Coach Joey Porter seemed to be on thin ice in my mind. No one can question his passion and motivational ability. But when the Steelers abandoned their rotation at outside backer (a decision that was made for him) I had the sense his time was coming to an end. I don’t think Porter is a bad coach but I do think the Steelers believe they can find better.
I also believe you’ll see a change with the defensive backs as well. Carnell Lake deserves some credit for the development of Artie Burns and Sean Davis but I sense, especially after the loss to New England, that they have to have better in the secondary.
Prediction #4 Antonio Brown’s Contract Situation Will Be Ugly and Last Well Into Camp. There is no question that to anyone paying attention that the Steelers’ brass had some issues with Brown during the course of the 2016 season. That does not take away however the fact that his work ethic is among the most elite of all-time. Unfortunately, Brown and his agent Drew Rosenhaus will demand far more than what the Steelers will be willing to offer. Much will come down to the yearly amount and the signing bonus. Regardless, I anticipate a long, drawn-out process.
Prediction #5 The Steelers Will Make a Trade in the First Round of the Draft. Kevin Colbert’s draft history has given little reason for me to be confident here but this is an incredibly deep draft especially at positions of need for the Steelers. With compensatory picks able to be traded this year, that could allow the Steelers to get creative. Will it be a move up or down? That’s hard to say but normally they go up.
Photo courtesy the Equinix Blog