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2017 South Side Questions: Is Doom And Gloom Justified?

The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: Is all the doom and gloom justified for a team that is 3-2 and in the lead in their division?

Let’s just throw out a very quick reminder here. Through nine games last season, the Steelers had a losing record. They reached the AFC Championship game. So being in first place in the AFC North through five games shouldn’t have people running for tent poles with which to prop up the falling sky.

But it’s not the record, of course. It’s not that at all, really. I think even the more pessimistic of us are likely to acknowledge that this team should be able to make the postseason. But this isn’t a team that’s just looking to make it to the dance. They want to be crowned at the end of the night.

This season is all about winning the Super Bowl, and yesterday, their quarterback didn’t look anything like somebody who could accomplish that for them. And they don’t have the defense, nor to they play in the age, that would allow them to carry a shaky quarterback across the finish line.

No matter how amazing Antonio Brown or Le’Veon Bell or Ryan Shazier or Cameron Heyward might be, in today’s league, it is almost universally true that a team can only go as far as its quarterback is able to pull the rest of the group along.

Ben Roethlisberger has not really at any point this season looked like Atlas holding up the weight of the world—if anything, something more akin to Wile E. Coyote getting run over by a boulder.

But he’s gotten off to slow starts before. It hasn’t been uncommon. And yesterday’s interception tally was a domino effect.

He’s not going to throw five interceptions every game. And he is going to throw touchdown passes again. He is not suddenly a terrible quarterback overnight. He can bounce back, and he will definitely play better. The question really is, can he play well enough to properly honor the memory of Dan Rooney in the only fitting way, but hoisting the Lombardi Trophy?

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