Jeez, can everyone just take a step back from the ledge!
Call me a Pollyanna, but everyone is over-reacting. I'm hardly a "glass-half-full" kind of guy, but this team is not that terrible.
In fact, one might argue that this team is over achieving for a team arguably already
deep in the rebuilding phase.
1) Our star receiver Hines Ward barely played down the stretch, since our THREE very capable young receivers have come into their own. Jerricho Cotchery is a fourth WR on this team!
2) We finished the game without ANY of our veteran defensive lineman playing. Indeed, the team already appears to have a solid replacement for A. Smith. Quite possibly Heyward will be solid as well. We finished the game without either of our NT's (Hamp and Hoke). McClendon is not a natural fit at NT, but appears to have great potential on DL as well.
3) We appear to already have a replacement for an aging Silverback. Worilds has played pretty well in spots.
4) Jury is still out on some of our younger DB's. Perhaps Lewis will develop into a starter. Cortez Allen was playing great on ST's and seemed to be "getting it" before his injury last week.
5) We lost our number 1 RB last week -- but his undrafted
FA backup appears to be a diamond in the rough. Had we won this game, everyone would be stoked by Redman's performance. It's possible that a player like Barron Batch will be able to help out next year, after getting a full season to rehab.
6) We have a potential perennial All-Pro at center (if he can stay healthy, that is).
7) We have a QB who managed to keep us in a game on the road in a hostile environment with only one leg. He's still a mere 29 years old.
Our HC has already coached 2 SB's and won one. He's not yet 40 years old.
We had too many injuries this year down the stretch to be competitive. We didn't have any of our first team starters on D line:
Add to that the fact that the defense is only half-way rebuilt : We still need an ILB and NT, likely help at S/DB.
And if the FO gets hot and finds talent at O line (for once), we have enough talent at the skill positions to be competitive for several years. We did not reach for need at O line the last few drafts. It's very possible that some lucky player at OL will fall to us in the top rounds this coming year.
I don't see this team as a stagnant collection of talent. I see this team as having tremendous potential whilst still having capable veterans that will allow this team to contend next year and the year after. Yeah, Arians leaves much to be desired, but Lebeau has been ingenious for years. We will miss Dick when he leaves. I'm not eager to see if Butler is able to keep the system together.
Just trying to put some things in perspective -- I hope for but do not expect a Super Bowl every year.