PITTSBURGH — General Manager Kevin Colbert was low on roster details but high in expectations in his media session Thursday.
Colbert wasn’t leaning on the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ 13-win season, which should reverberate through the offseason.
The Steelers weren’t necessarily better in 2017 than in 2016 because they won more regular-season games.
Check out this tone-setting sampling:
On the 2017 season: “Unless we are winning a championship, no one will sit here and say we were good enough.”
On the defense: “We know we have a challenge defensively. We have to get better against the run.”
On players under contract potentially not returning: “That’s always a possibility when you’re trying to get your team better and under the cap.”
On free agency: “We won’t close the door on anybody.” However, he points out the Steelers typically prefer first-contract guys they drafted.
On the playoffs: “Jacksonville outplayed us. As plain as can be.”
On the defensive roster: “Some guys are on the upswing, some guys are in their prime and some guys are still playing and they might be on the downside. Doesn’t mean they still can’t help you. They might not be the player they were before. That group has the potential to get better just through more play and learning from their mistakes, as I know they are willing to do and they are working toward it.” This sounds like a signal to veterans with sizable cap numbers such as safety Mike Mitchell or cornerback William Gay. Perhaps the Steelers will be looking for a pay cut or two.
Overall, that’s quite the variety of heat. Add in a line about the defense being too aggressive against the pass and too passive against the run and Colbert was in mid-season form, if he had one (he doesn’t talk to the media during the season). In early February, team president Art Rooney II called for improvements, but cited the team’s win total as a positive. Colbert didn’t use that line.
His comments should be welcome to Steelers fans who saw the run defense allow 150 yards or more in three of the last six games. Colbert was even reluctant to blame that issue on the absence of Ryan Shazier, pointing to an ugly Week 3 game in Chicago in which Shazier played.
Though pressed against the cap with a financial collision with Le’Veon Bell looming, the Steelers aren’t about to make wholesale changes. But Colbert sounds like a man who’s about to make this offseason interesting.
“If we don’t change the roster we had in 2017, what reason would we think there wouldn’t be any difference in the results?” Colbert said. “We have to be ready to be better than we were last year.”