The nation is divided and depressed. Steelers Nation that is.
This…is…not what we expected. Are our expectations too high?
Let’s see…a power packed offense featuring two future Hall of Famers in Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown. An emerging superstar in JuJu Smith-Schuster, tight ends on the rise and an offensive line that is the envy of most other offensive coordinators in National Football League.
No…our expectations for our offense weren’t too high.
What about the defense? Well…did we really have expectations? It’s hard to disappoint when the bar was already set pretty low.
Yet, we did believe they would be improved over last year. Are we seeing much evidence there?
Which leaves the coaching. Yes. Can we?
Our record? 1-2-1. That’s bad enough to get you an early exit out of the first round of the World Cup.
Is it too early to panic?
Maybe not. But, you can at least start preparing for bedlam.
What does that mean anyway when players and coaches say, “There’s no need to panic”? It sounds like people wanting to keep their jobs.
Will they? Should they? Let’s Spin it to find out.
What Exactly Is The Standard?
The Standard Is The Standard. We get that. But, tell us what exactly is the Standard?
If we’re being honest, then we can agree the Steelers have been in a state of Advanced Mediocrity for many years now.
Will they turn things around this season? Most probably.
Will they somehow squeeze into the playoffs? Their backs are against the wall with a divisional loss and tie this early in the season, but they certainly have managed to come back from slow starts in the past. They could undoubtedly do it again.
But, maybe this Standard just isn’t good enough for Steelers Nation. Perhaps we want more?
How about a team that dominates and thrills from the beginning of the season to the end. Anybody see that in the last decade?
Saved By The Bell?
So…there is this guy named Le’Veon Bell. An amazing talent who has been sitting on a couch during Steelers games rather than competing on the field of play with his fellow warriors.
I’m sure Bell is pleased by the fact the team is underperforming without having him out there.
And, certainly there are those desperate types in Steelers Nation who are wringing their hands and saying, “Oh…if only we could make peace with Le’Veon and get him back on the field.”
Yet the Spin says…I am so done with the Le’Veon Bell era of the Steelers.
Obviously he doesn’t respect the team nor its fans. That’s fine. It’s his prerogative.
But, if the Steelers put him back on the field, rather than just trade him away and cut their losses, I will probably have a hard time keeping from vomiting.
Please. Can we keep whatever slender fragment of dignity we have remaining?
There actually are some things more important than winning.
Who Is The Bad Guy Now?
When Seahawks safety Earl Thomas went down by injury last week the players union representatives were quick to post on their social media platforms the following sentiment in various forms of communication.
“See…this is why players are right to hold out.”
Bell was equally rapid at declaring he would be the bad guy now on behalf of Thomas.
However; I saw something completely different with Thomas’s injury.
I saw a player that had skipped professional training, team workouts, practice games and time getting his body acclimated to the speed of the game.
For those who have played sports, you know this to be true: If you’re worried about getting hurt, you’re going to get hurt.
This doesn’t mean it doesn’t grieve me to see a great player like Thomas have to suffer through an injury, one that will cause him great pain in his body, and most likely his wallet.
But, I don’t see it as a reason why players should sit out games.
Maybe this is true with some organizations, but not the Pittsburgh Steelers. They take care of their players. If you deal with them with at least a measure of fairness, you will be treated with respect. You will be taken care of.
If Bell had negotiated with an ounce of humility, he would already have been set for life. Le’Veon, you have the right to be the bad guy if you want to be. But don’t blame the Steelers for taking on that role.
This Is It?
How many years have we been saying, “If only (fill in the blank)…this offense would be the greatest ever”? Whether it was waiting for Martavis Bryant or Bell to get back from suspensions or for players to come back from injuries there was always the great “What If”.
Well…here we are. Again. And what do we have? Dare I say it?
It’s kind of boring.
Contrast this with the Kansas City Chiefs and head coach and chief playcaller Andy Reid. When peering through his glasses at his laminated play card and all of those star players to choose from there is an anticipation…“C’mon Andy…what are you going to dial up this time?”
Do you experience that when the Steelers are on offense?
Pittsburgh has a dream lineup of offensive talent. I’m pretty sure Andy could make it work.
But Don’t Blame Old Age
There is no question that Ben Roethlisberger has been off and at times quite a bit.
The fact the Steelers can’t complete a deep ball is almost entirely on his broad shoulders. There have been open players that aren’t getting the ball to their hands.
But, it has nothing to do with Ben getting old. In fact, he’s in better shape than he has been for years. He’s fit enough to play at the highest level for several more years and even if there is a decline in his physical ability, he’ll still be in the top ten in the NFL.
No, instead, it’s a lack of execution. There isn’t crispness in route timing. The playcalling is inconsistent and often lacks vision. The penalties are crushing.
Even the offensive line should be called out for their lack of creating holes.
Essentially, it looks like a team that didn’t take the offseason seriously enough.
Let’s hope the first quarter of the season was enough of a preseason to get them on point.
The good news is the Steelers have the ability to make all of us forget their woeful first quarter of the season.
They really have a “must win” game against the Atlanta Falcons to prove they remain an elite team in this league and to show their fans their initial start was an aberration and not an accurate portrayal of who they have become.
Then with a three-game divisional Murderer’s Row schedule of the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers have every chance to rise back to the top of the AFC North.
Lose to the Falcons at home and it would mean beginning this year with a record of 1-3-1.
Then it’s really time to panic.