Steelers President Art Rooney II Talks About Missing Playoffs, Off-Season Ahead
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In his only television interview since the season ended, Steelers President Art Rooney II talked about missing the playoffs for the second year in a row and many of the issues that contributed their second straight 8-8 record.
“We again, were on the wrong side of the turnover ratio,” said Rooney. “We were minus-4, which was an improvement over last year, but still, you need to be on the plus side of the turnover ratio and really those first four games were what told the story there.”
But Rooney said the story could have been worse. He said though that he was encouraged by how his team finished – six wins and two losses in the final eight games.
He credits Mike Tomlin for that.
“Holding the team together and really having the team be a team that was getting better as the season goes on, to me that’s coaching,” Rooney said.
But Tomlin did get a $100,000 fine this season for stepping onto the field of play in Baltimore. There is speculation that the league might also take a lower-round draft pick away.
Rooney says he will fight that.
“We’ve advised the league office we would appeal if there’s any additional discipline,” said Rooney. “As far as we’re concerned, there was no impact on the playoffs if that’s part of the criteria. So, it’s something that, as far as I’m concerned should be behind us. And I guess, at this point, I’d say I’d be surprised if there’s any additional discipline.”
With regard to some of the off-season decisions, Rooney declined to comment on individual contracts as the team has a whopping 21 unrestricted free agents.
Ben Roethlisberger is not among them. He still has two years left on his contract.
Given all of their more pressing salary cap needs, Roethlisberger may not get an extension this year. But that does not mean the Steelers won’t eventually get something done.
“We certainly want Ben to retire as a Steeler, and we think he’s got a lot of good years left. I hoped coming into the second year of the new offense with Todd [Haley] that we would get better, and I think we did that,” Rooney said. “I think it evolved that the no huddle became a key piece of the puzzle for us. Certainly, Le’Veon Bell and what he brings to the offense was an important factor, so I think it came together well, and like I said, we got better as the season went on. Hopefully, we can build on that going into next year.”
This year could have been a playoff season if only Kansas City Chiefs’ kicker Ryan Succop had kicked a makeable 41-yard field goal, which he did not.
“It was a frustrating. I didn’t even watch the game,” Rooney said. “I chose not to even watch, and then as the Chiefs were driving down there, my son was in the other room and he said, ‘They’re on the 40, you better come in here and watch the end of this game.’ So I did go in and I watched the last few plays and he was lining up for that field goal, I felt pretty good. I was kind of surprised he missed it.”
KDKA’s Bob Pompeani: “They clearly had a wrong formation.”
Rooney: “To be honest with you, I didn’t see that at the time, so it was a little frustrating to hear that after the fact, but it’s one of those things where we can’t point too many fingers at other people. We made our bed.”