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As he does annually, Art Rooney II, Pittsburgh Steelers team president addressed some media members to discuss the 2017 season and give his insight into the 2018 season. Rooney gives his General Manager and head coach full power when it comes to the decisions made on the football operations side. However, when Art Rooney II speaks, Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert are absolutely listening. Rooney usually does provide strong insight into what the direction of the team will be following the year.

What did Rooney have to say?

On Ben Roethlisberger:

 

This is not surprising but does give us a hint into how the Steelers will handle the position. If Ben Roethlisberger wants to play, he is playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, Rooney is not going to be quick to pull the trigger on an extension. He knows like Roethlisberger does that this should eventually be played out on a year-to-year basis. Roethlisberger is signed on for two more years and the two will move on from there. A lot will change by then. Landry Jones is a free agent next year, so the idea is that the team will not draft a quarterback in 2018, let Jones walk, move Josh Dobbs up and let the 2019 draftee fill in the third spot.

On Mike Tomlin:

Mike Tomlin is not going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Rooney sees the big picture. He would rather consistently be good than spike between terrible and great.  The person who should know the team better than anyone else admitted it was not looking ahead, and that the Jacksonville Jaguars won because they are, get this, a good football team.  Rooney also laughed off the idea of minority owners calling to fire Mike Tomlin, which circulated the day after the playoff loss. Tomlin has never had a losing regular season. When that happens, it will still be a few more years until the team moves on from him.

On Le’Veon Bell

Yes, he said something similar last season. However, he did not put the timetable of contract in the tense of “this year” last season. Le’Veon Bell said the two are closer than last year, and with Rooney adding in that both sides are committed, there is a chance. Do not count out the idea of a three-year extension for Bell.

On James Harrison

No surprise that Art Rooney II had to have the final sign off when it came to James Harrison. Rooney put it perfectly that blame should go on both sides. However, while many have questioned the timing of the decision, sources say that it is no surprise it came after the Ryan Shazier injury.

On Ryan Shazier

The team mentioned that Shazier was involved in the game plan, and was still very active in a group text with the premier defensive players who discuss schemes and game planning.  That part of the game will never be taken away from Ryan Shazier, and no matter his physical health status, that will be a role he has with the team moving forward.

On the defensive breakdowns late in the season

Rooney is right. Artie Burns, Javon Hargrave, Sean Davis, Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt and Mike Hilton are all still on rookie level contracts. Stephon Tuitt just finished his fourth season and this was year four for Shazier. However, the emphasis from the first quote is that he thinks it is obvious the team will add to the defense this offseason. Truly expect little to be done on the offensive side of the ball. Free agency and the draft will be defensive centered.

Rooney acknowledged a season ending with the most yards in a single game is not a good sign for defense. However, to have an elite defense in this period of football is also the greatest fix to an evolving offensive league.

 

On the Jesse James catch rule

Everything Art Rooney said in his interview gives off the confidence that this is still a person who is in touch and has understanding and reason behind every decision he makes. Rooney understands that it was a situation where we have a good call under a bad rule. After the Patriot game, the Dez Bryant catch and most recent Super Bowl with Corey Clement, it is very clear that the rule is going to be looked at this offseason.

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