Time to “wrap a bow” around the season

December 31, 2012 by Teresa Varley

Coach Mike Tomlin said it’s time to “wrap a bow” around the 2012 season, but what was inside the package definitely is not what any of the Steelers’ players and coaches had hoped for this season.

The Steelers finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs, far short of the Super Bowl expectations this team has every year.

“There is a certain level of disappointment that comes with sitting here, even right now, having an end of the season press conference,” said Tomlin. “Those are never our intentions. We desire to be a team that is consistently in the battle for the Vince Lombardi trophy. That didn’t transpire this year for a number of reasons, primarily that we didn’t do enough in the closing moments of close football games.”

The Steelers had eight games this season decided by three points or less and were only able to win three of them, Philadelphia, Kansas City and Baltimore. It was games that they lost, including early in the season to Oakland and Tennessee, by those close margins that came back to haunt them in the end.

“That will produce an 8-8-like record that will have you on the outside looking in,” said Tomlin. “Those of us that have been in this business for any length of time, we understand that and embrace that. The good teams, the dominant teams, aren’t necessarily dominant inside stadiums but they are dominant largely in moments, and they do what is required to get out of stadiums with victories. We didn’t do that consistently enough.”

So instead of spending this week preparing for the playoffs, Tomlin will be spending time conducting exit interviews with the players.

“We are on the outside looking in,” said Tomlin. “We don’t feel great about it. As a matter of fact, we dislike it. We are committed to doing what is required for us, in terms of moving forward, to ensure that we are not having similar conversations in the future.”

* * *

Offensive line coach Sean Kugler said his goodbyes on Monday, heading off to his new position as head coach at University of Texas-El Paso. The Steelers will begin their search for a new offensive line coach, but are going to be methodical about it.

“I think it’s important that we hire the right man,” said Tomlin, who did say that Kugler will not be taking any Steelers’ assistant coaches with him. “We’re going to work swiftly but diligently. We’re not going to put any time constraints on it. The big thing is that we come out of it with the correct man to move forward with that group in 2013.

“I don’t have any preconceived notions in terms of the number of people I might interview and things of that nature or how it could transpire. I’ve been gathering information informally. I’ll continue to do that in a more formal manner here moving forward.”

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