“If we don’t change 8-8, if we don’t change the roster that produced 8-8, we’d be silly to expect a better result if we’ve got the same group of guys,” he said. “We can’t box ourselves in and limit what we potentially could do.”
Colbert stressed the issue was not effort or preparation, but results. The Steelers were 3-5 in games decided by a field goal. They needed to sweep Cincinnati and Cleveland at home in the final two weeks of the season and only earned a split.
The defense struggled early in the season. The offense struggled late. Save for a three-week stretch in the middle of the year — wins over the Bengals, Redskins and Giants — Pittsburgh was very much an average team. While defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s unit was No. 1 in the NFL in yards allowed, it created just 20 turnovers, with four of those coming in a meaningless season finale win over Cleveland.
“We weren’t great in takeaways but we were No. 1 in a lot of different areas,” he said. “Was it good enough? No.”
Though injuries cost Pittsburgh starters 52 games, which Colbert said was 11th-most in the league, he’s not using it as an excuse. He pointed out four playoff teams had starters miss more playing time. Pittsburgh’s staff will meet on Thursday to evaluate the injury situation to see if anything can be done from a preventative standpoint but Colbert knows they’re simply a part of the game.
So is the salary cap. The Steelers have just started the process of accessing where they’ll be when the cap is officially set and Colbert anticipates to be somewhere around the $121 million mark. He declined to comment specifically on Pittsburgh’s impending free agents — including wide receiver Mike Wallace — but doesn’t expect to place the franchise tag on anyone.