By Michael K. Reynolds
With a record of 7-4 going into their bye week anything is possible for this year’s Pittsburgh Steelers.
But with the level of inconsistency they have displayed, making it to the Super Bowl doesn’t seem all that possible. One thing is fairly certain. This team isn’t going to dominate and bully its way to Phoenix, Arizona. They are going to have to play lights out and get a few breaks along the way.
They are also going to need to turbo charge their engine over this two week break leading into the game against the New Orleans Saints.
The Steelers will need to rely on a well tuned engine heavily fueled by superstars Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown the rest of the season.
Yet, to have a chance of making it in and fairing well against teams like the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos they’ll require much more horsepower and here’s how they get that needed boost:
Back To Tumbling Dice
How can the Steelers look so good against the Indianapolis Colts and Baltimore Ravens but then appear so anemic against the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans? It’s simple. They reversed their approach. Against the Colts and Ravens both Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley and Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau were given the green light to drive like crazy and to take big risks. They both pulled plays out of their hats that haven’t been seen in quite some time.
When they played teams “they were supposed to beat” like the Jets and Titans, the reins were drawn in and they went much more conservative. This team isn’t strong and mature enough to line straight up against the best teams in the league and use traditional chess moves. They got to roll them bones and hope for sevens.
There are so many who seem inexplicably bent on proving the inadequacies of this year’s draft class. Ryan Shazier looks lost they say. Stephon Tuitt can’t mind his gap. Dri Archer is too small. Martavis Bryant can’t run routes. Daniel McCullers won’t stay on his feet.
That’s one way of looking at it. The other is that Shazier brings elite speed and playmaking ability. Tuitt flashes rare defensive line talent. Archer can be a game changer. Bryant is a touchdown maker. And McCullers can collapse the pocket like no one else on the team.
What they need is time on the field and a little grace for mistakes.
Here are the facts. Last year’s version of the Steelers was talent deprived. With few exceptions, the offseason free agent acquisitions are a bust as a group. If the team is going to have any chance of going far this year it will be on this new crop of rookies to make that happen. Why not take off the training wheels and let them ride?
Maybe they do crash into the wall. Or roll on the ground. But they could end up being the difference makers in 2014-15 and far beyond.
At the very least the team will be that much farther along for next year.
Let The Gray Show The Way
The Steelers are blessed with players who have already experienced the impossible. Roethlisberger, James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor and Brett Keisel have been there and done it. It can be argued the 2005 Super Bowl Champion version of the Steelers had less raw talent than this year’s edition. It was only because of an unlikely end of the season run and a miracle tackle by Big Ben that they were able to make it to the Big Show and ultimately take home the prize.
Is this another year of miracles? It’s going to need to be in order for the Steelers to go far. Fortunately, for this team, there are players in leadership positions who not only believe in miracles, but have lived them.
With all of these kids running around you do need a little adult supervision. Put the season on the old guys’ shoulders in the locker room and on the field and let them show the way.