Trask: Bell, AB Signs Of "Systemic Problem In Pittsburgh"

While the Steelers have moved on from Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, problems could remain

Reiter Than You
March 12, 2019 - 9:45 am
Mike Tomlin Pittsburgh Steelers Cincinnati Bengals NFL

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The Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the most storied franchises in North American sports, will enter the 2019 season without arguably the best wide receiver and the best running back in football. 

While some analysts may argue that the Steelers are better without the baggage of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, make no mistake: this is not addition by subtraction. The Steelers felt Bell’s absence in 2018, failing to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013, and they will feel Brown’s absence in 2019.

And, regardless of record, there’s no guarantee it’ll be smooth sailing going forward.

“The Steelers have bigger problems than just this,” CBS Sports NFL analyst Amy Trask said on Reiter Than You. “They gave up a very, very good player for very little draft compensation, but I think the Steelers’ problems go deeper than just Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell. I think those two situations were endemic of a much greater systemic problem in Pittsburgh.”

Trask, the former Raiders executive, is speaking from experience.

“I spent almost 30 years in the National Football League,” she said, “and never in all of those years did I see any behavior remotely resembling what we saw go on in the Steeler locker room after the players were told Le’Veon Bell wouldn’t come back. Players are generally very respectful of one another, these are men they’ve lined up with, and when there’s financial issues – or other issues – players don’t do what I saw happening in that locker room.”

Several Steelers, including Maurkice Pouncey, ripped Bell in the media. In November, Mike Tomlin said that the Steelers needed volunteers, not hostages.

Tell us how you really feel, coach. 

“It’s very tempting to want to point to one person and say that Tomlin has got some real issues of leadership in the locker room,” Trask said. “And people push back on that and say, ‘Well, it’s not fair for you to say it’s all Tomlin.’ That may be OK, but my answer is this: If you’re the head coach and you’re going to tell everybody ‘I’m the head coach and I’m in charge’ when things are going well, then you’re the head coach and you’re in charge when things are not going well.”

As for the Raiders, Jon Gruden suffered through a miserable 4-12 campaign last season, during which he made several questionable personnel decisions. Will he eventually be able to right the ship?

“I think hiring Mike Mayock to come in and assist with player evaluation is a definite good step in the right direction,” Trask said. “I know Mike and I believe that Mike will be willing to say to Jon, ‘I disagree with you.' Mike Mayock realizes that (Jon is running the organization), but Mike is not going to be hesitant to disagree with Jon, and I think that’s a great step because through that they’ll come up with better decisions.”