So, we all saw it. Mike Tomlin dancing his way “out” of Jacoby Jones’s path to a huge return touchdown on Thursday night. Jones claimed that Tomlin didn’t affect his route and, let’s be honest here, he should have just run straight into him, but the NFL is apparently set to investigate the issue with the possible punishment reaching as high as the loss of a draft pick.
This seems to me to be rather harsh. The officials did not merit the “accidental almost obstruction” worthy of a penalty. If they had, the Ravens would have been awarded a touchdown. The Ravens won the game in any case, despite the best efforts of the Steelers offense.
Of course, it all depends on what draft pick the Steelers are forced to give up. A first rounder would be a huge penalty, whereas a seventh rounder (bear in mind we do tend to sign our low draft picks) would still be a notable punishment. That’s always assuming we were going to make a smart pick with the pick that we could, hypothetically, lose. Which is not a given.
The real dagger for the Steelers is the loss of the game. If we are to get to 9-7, which has been good enough for a wild card spot in the past, then we cannot afford to lose any more games. Our remaining schedule contains an away trip to Green Bay, with Aaron Rodgers almost certainly ready to start.
What now seems more likely for the Steelers is a completely useless 7-9 finish that will neither see us in the playoffs or with a high draft pick. It will probably also be “good enough” for the ownership to deflect criticism of the coaching staff, well justified throughout this season’s struggles, and resist the changes that so many Steeler fans deem completely necessary if the franchise is to progress.
The Steelers have massive rebuilding ahead of them this offseason, which will absolutely have to include the departure of at least one of our highly paid “stars”. Might there be a “win-win” here in that a lowly (lowlier perhaps) franchise could be tempted to give up their draft pick in exchange for our experienced but underperforming and under-contract players? You like to hope that somebody might just be.