There remain a number of James Harrison True Believers who anticipate that the Pittsburgh Steelers will rue the day that the front office granted the 39-year-old’s repeated requests to be released. They expect, and some even seem to hope, that Harrison will have his way with Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, a 2017 Pro Bowler, in a hypothetical AFC Championship game showdown.
I’m not particularly worried about what Harrison will be able to do on the field for against Steelers for the Patriots. Pittsburgh has one of the best offensive lines in football, if not the best, and every single one of their starters is above average, with their backups being above average backups to boot. They can handle him like they’ve handled just about everybody else, including many who are better than Harrison is at 39.
These individuals will hold on to this belief until they are proven wrong as much as I will hold on to my belief until I am proven wrong. On that front, it is what it is. And we may or may not even ever see a resolution.
But what about the other front? The dreaded intelligence-gathering front? At least within the first couple of days in their unholy alliance, neither Harrison nor Patriots head coach Bill Belichick seem particularly interested in what the former knows about the Steelers that the latter does not.
Both parties addressed the media yesterday for the first time since the signing, with Belichick holding a pre-game press conference in advance of their season finale against the Jets. When he was asked about how Harrison’s knowledge can benefit them against the Steelers, he responded in his typical fashion.
“We’re playing the Jets this week. I don’t even know what that has to do with it”, he told the reporter who was foolish enough to ask the question. “Maybe I’m missing something, I don’t know”.
But Harrison also spoke to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette after signing with the Patriots, and he gave a more direct answer to the question. When asked about the topic, he said clearly that Belichick “has not asked me one thing” regarding what information he can divulge about the Steelers.
Now, that doesn’t mean that that scenario may not change in a few weeks if the Steelers and Patriots end up meeting in the AFC Championship game. In that case, it likely would. But how much of a difference it can possibly make has been hotly debated.
Let’s be honest, though. The Steelers already threw out about everything they have to throw out. They played man coverage. They used a three-lineman sub-package. They used all kinds of different packages. Last week, they showed shadowing. There’s not much more to show, and what there might be, Harrison won’t know.
And can I just add that Belichick gave one of my favorite answers to a question in a press conference ever? When asked if it was important to have Harrison in for a visit before signing him, he respond, “it’s always good to meet somebody”.