Dane Robinson, second-year head coach of the Atlanta Steam (3-3), took some time last week to discuss the just concluded season and share his thoughts on the season as well as the future of the franchise. Despite advancing to the Eastern Conference title game, the Steam had what has to be considered a disappointing year after going 3-0 against the lifeless Omaha Heart and 0-3 against two-time (going for a 3-pete) LFL champion Chicago Bliss.

Coach Robinson had much to say on this season as well as where the three-year old franchise will go in the future.

Thoughts on this season:

“While 2014 was a year of over achievement for the team, 2015 was certainly a season of underachievement. As a team we simply did not follow through on what we needed to do to move this program from average to elite within the hierarchy of the LFL teams. Mediocrity is not acceptable as our standard.”

Thoughts on the 2016 season:

“We will move forward by focusing on three key areas in the offseason. First, we will set a firm and consistent culture of performance, character, and excellence. Secondly, we plan to dive into the LFL free agent pool and recruit worth-while rookie talent, and lastly we will invest more time, energy, and effort into our players that are the pillars and cornerstones of the Atlanta Stem.”

Robinson went on to say that the No. 1 area for improvement is improving the football mentality of the team.

“Doing our job on the field with perfect execution and competing with an unmatched effort on every play is critical as well as learning not to allow negative plays in game to affect us. Just simply being SMARTER football players so that were not just athletes running around chasing a football.”

Based on my chat with Coach Robinson, it is clear that the fourth-edition of the Steam will look much different than this edition. A number of three-year Steam veterans will likely not return, and some of the rookies will not be back for a second-year with the team either. That realization led me to ask Robinson about the positions that he plans to work to upgrade.

“Finding a sizeable running back will be a strong focus this offseason for us because, as much as we hang our hat on Dakota Hughes & Co. to put the ball in the air, we know to move this program forward we need to have a RB that has some developed size and strength behind their ability to carry the football. We have always had the speedy, quick RBs but the LFL running game is hinged on bigger backs that are able to not only outrun the defense but can also wear them down by pounding them from the first quarter to the final buzzer. Other positions that are priorities are defensive end, wide receiver, and cornerback.”

Robinson went on to say “I am incredibly grateful for those ladies that have been with this team since day one from my days as an assistant coach on this team. As the team continues its journey in the LFL, a number of those original players start to see that “finish line” and some have already crossed that finish line. Expect to see several Steam Originals not make a return in 2016.”

My next question was obvious: Is quarterback Dakota Hughes returning?

“I am happy to announce that Dakota is on board to return as our starting QB for the 2016 season, and she is ready to do whatever is asked of her to take this program, and herself, from average to elite.”

What Coach Robinson liked about the season:

“The 2015 edition of the Steam was the most talented group of ladies we have had an opportunity to put together. When all systems were clicking, it was a very exciting thing to watch as a coach. My coaching staff was another strong point. The other gentlemen on this team that coach our ladies did a great job this year behind the scenes, and that takes a lot of pressure off me. We were so much more cohesive and in tune during the season and our message stayed consistent as a group. Coach Mark (White) makes this team go, and without his leadership next to me in this venture I would not be as successful as I am.”

What Coach Robinson found disappointing about the season:

“Our competitiveness, heart at times, was lacking as well as an identity as to what kind of team we were going to be. We got in our own way many times in games and there was no cohesion or trust. That comes from me as a Head Coach- that “let it slide” approach with some of the veterans is something that I personally will correct and not allow from myself in my third year as head coach.”

As always, Coach Robinson was very honest in his assessments of the team’s strong points as well as their weaknesses. Look for the fourth edition of the Atlanta Steam to return with a fire that only results from an embarrassing loss like the one Chicago put on Atlanta, which means 2016 will be another exciting year for Steam fans.