The Steelers are coming off an 8-8 season, saying goodbye to several key contributors who are leaving in free agency and hearing players who are sticking around talk about fractures in the locker room.
That’s led some to opine that the Steelers are in decline, an opinion that coach Mike Tomlin does not agree with. He believees his players were “scalded” by their results in 2012 and that scalding will lead to an improved record in the 2013 season. And he doesn’t believe that any of the departures in recent years or the aforementioned complaints about fractures are a sign that the team has lost its way.
“I don’t think we’re devoid of leadership at all,” Tomlin said, via Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Tomlin also explained why he thinks the Steelers can improve after losing linebacker James Harrison and wide receiver Mike Wallace even though he thinks both of them are irreplaceable.
“We may never replace James, but we’ll have an opportunity to strengthen ourselves in other areas and I think that’s what you look at when you look at things from a change standpoint,” Tomlin said. “No, we won’t be able to replace James Harrison, no we won’t be able to replace Mike Wallace; those guys are who they are. But those voids will allow us to strengthen ourselves in those areas and others. Collectively maybe even make us stronger.”
The Steelers have long relied on players stepping into roles opened up by others. Jason Gildon turned into Joey Porter who turned into Harrison and now another player (Jason Worilds at the moment) will have to fill the spot. The same is true at wide receiver and anywhere else the Steelers are turning the page. It’s a bet they’ve won several times in the past, so it’s not much surprise to see Tomlin banking on it coming through again this time.