It was fitting that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ finally gasp in the 2013 season was left in the hands of Emmanuel Sanders last night. I say “fitting” because the ball went through the hands of Sanders who has had that problem most of the season.
He isn’t the only reason the Steelers now stand at 5-7 and virtually out of the NFL Playoffs but his butterfingers didn’t help.
To be fair to Sanders, it was a horrible play call. Putting the entire season in his hands was one thing but limiting the options for Ben Roethlisberger was idiotic as well.
The Steelers must win their final four games of the season and they will need help. They will need to get losses from San Diego, Tennessee, Miami and the Jets for starters and perhaps two losses from some because they trail on several tie-breakers in the AFC as well.
I’m not giving up and I haven’t lost faith but let’s be realistic here shall we? This team is not going anywhere and I’ll gladly eat crow should they prove me wrong but I feel pretty confident about my feelings. With that said, it’s time to look to next year and beyond and it’s time to get the young guys more time on the field.
Where should Mike Tomlin start? He can start with sitting Emmanuel Sanders in place of Markus Wheaton or even Jerricho Cotchery at the number two spot. I advocated the team let Sanders walk to New England during the offseason when we could have received a third-round pick and now he’ll more than likely leave via free agency and the team will get nothing for him.
Sitting Sanders could also allow Derek Moye a chance to show what he can do.
Defensively, get Ryan Clark a seat on the bench or let him go to Bristol, Connecticut where his mind clearly is anyway. I’m sure ESPN will welcome him with open arms. Let Will Allen play more and when he’s healthy, get Shamarko Thomas back on the field.
For a seventh-round pick defensive end Brett Keisel has had a great career in Pittsburgh but as he left the field early in the game it’s clear his time is done. The Steelers need to keep going with youth on the defensive line and will need to address it in the draft as well.
As far as I’m concerned, LaMarr Woodley can keep his sweat suit on. Jason Worilds has gone above and beyond much of what Woodley can do and Jarvis Jones is making strides in a positive direction as well.
The problem with Woodley is his contract which will now hamstring the Steelers for a few more years. Should the Steelers be able to re-sign Worilds in the offseason, then Woodley needs to move to the right and Jones can become a situational pass rusher for next year at least.
There is no use in delaying the inevitable in Pittsburgh. Now is the time to worry less about wins and more about the future.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 630pm ET talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.