Steelers who marched us to madness semifinal: Dri Archer vs. LeGarrette Blount

March Madness is everywhere you look, so we here at Steel City Underground felt like getting in on the craze with a Steelers-inspired tournament all our own: Steelers Who Marched Us to Madness.

The concept is simple. Over a period of the last five seasons, there have been a number of additions the Steelers have made who came in with high expectations. Several of those additions ended as subtractions for one reason or another, leaving Pittsburgh after a disappointing run with the franchise.

We have compiled eight of those names into a March Madness-style tournament, with you, the fans, voting on who was the most disappointing acquisition who “marched us to madness”.

The standings for the first semifinal matchup are as follows:

Steelers who marched us to madness round two

Note: realizing this could be a bit insensitive to the actual player discussed, we would like to remind everyone that the tournament only involves past players and you should only consider their time with the Steelers when voting or leaving comments. This is merely an entertainment exercise to gauge fan expectation versus how a player’s tenure in Pittsburgh turned out, which may have disappointed for any variety of reasons.

Let’s look at the semifinals were set up.

The fans have spoken

The first bracket, featuring “returners” who drove us insane, was the closest contest of the first round matchups.

Archer pulled out a victory in the end, based on comments ranging from “this is what he was drafted for” to “Jacoby was already finished by then”. (I won’t disagree with either statement!)

The same type of comments were made about the “running backs” bracket:

Blount ran away: literally from a game, and also in this competition, with nearly 3/4 of the votes. Most comments gave Ben Tate a pass for only playing a single game, while fans were still irate about how Blount’s time in Pittsburgh went. (Which you can read more about below.)

About the players

Dri Archer

Fans instantly loathed the selection of Archer to the Steelers in the 2014 NFL Draft. It wasn’t that Archer, a versatile all-purpose back in college was a bad player. It was assumed that the Steelers “reached” for him in the third round. Running back wasn’t a pressing need for Pittsburgh (they selected Le’Veon Bell a year earlier) and several analysts felt that Archer could’ve been taken in later rounds.

They also predicted that Dri was too small to handle the everyday rigors of the pros.

Regardless, some surmised that Archer could be one of the hybrid players Todd Haley had been looking to fit into his offense. The team had previously tried out similar style backs such as LaRod Stephens-Howling and Chris Rainey to no avail. Archer could have potentially played in the backfield or lined up at wide receiver, in addition to returning kicks (a skill he excelled at in college).

Unfortunately, Archer would also fail to find his footing in the league.

In two seasons with the Steelers, Archer would receive a grand total of 10 carries, all in the 2014 season. He would receive a single carry in the Steelers 2014 Wild Card Game against the Baltimore Ravens; one in which they would be without Le’Veon Bell. The team instead chose to play practice squad player Josh Harris, and sign street free agent Ben Tate, over playing Archer.

He would appear in 12 games for the Steelers in 2014, fighting injuries which would limit his playing time. He would return all of nine kickoffs, and a single punt that season. In 2015, he would appear in eight games, returning 14 kicks.

The Steelers cut him in early November of 2015.

LeGarrette Blount

Yesterday I profiled RB Ben Tate, who had a cup of coffee with the Steelers, playing a single playoff game (and not doing very well in it, which led him to be matched up with Blount in this bracket).

Ben Tate would’ve never been in this “tournament” had LeGarrette Blount been any sort of team player, to begin with.

Acquired via free agency in 2014, Blount was signed to be a hammer to Le’Veon Bell‘s sickle; a backup capable of starting where necessary, and helping give the young running back a breather. (You know, like DeAngelo Williams.)

However, this was too tall of a task for Blount, who walked out of a Monday Night Football game against the Tennesee Titans back in November of the same year, before the game was over. Apparently, the running back was unhappy with his role, one in which he was second fiddle to Bell, who ran for a then single-game career-high of 204 yards.

Blount did not receive a carry in that game, and after having a pair of touchdowns to open the season, he only had 65 carries through 11 games.

At the end of the season, Bell would be placed on Injured Reserve and miss the Wild Card game in which Ben Tate was signed on short notice to play in. Had Blount stayed, history may have been different. The Steelers would’ve had a capable backup who had been with the team all season. The Patriots, who Blount scurried back to after walking out on the Steelers, wouldn’t have had a bruising back to help carry them to the Super Bowl.

Also, tension with Blount had mounted in weeks leading up to what would be his meltdown and dismissal from the team. He often complained publicly about his role, and even got into an on-field altercation with defensive assistant Joey Porter.

But that wasn’t his most famous backstep while with the Black and Gold. Prior to traveling to board a flight for a preseason game months earlier, Blount and Bell were arrested for marijuana possession. The incident also cost Bell time, as both were suspended the next season.

The verdict:

  • Blount cost the Steelers a capable backup who was desperately needed in a postseason game against a rival Ravens team.
  • Blount helped the Patriots win a Super Bowl.
  • Blount caused Le’Veon Bell to enter the first stage of the NFL’s Substance Abuse Policy, which has had a ripple effect on Bell, and the team, ever since.

Who’s your pick?

Vote now for who you feel was more disappointing as a Steeler:

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