The Pittsburgh Steelers did the unthinkable. They actually came out of a bye week and won a game against a woeful opponent, this being the Cleveland Browns by a tally of 33-18.
What was unsurprising was that following the game, the Browns fired their entire coaching staff including head coach Hue Jackson, offensive coordinator Todd Haley and probably half of the hot dog vendors…just because.
And although the Steelers were able to blow up the Browns organization as they have done so many times in the past, it would be disingenuous to argue they blew Cleveland out on the field of play. It took the Steelers nearly half a game to get going.
But, they won.
So now they face their greatest nemesis, the Baltimore Ravens, on the purple birds’ home field. These Ravens are once again on the defensive leader board once dominated by Pittsburgh teams; that being the number one ranking in the NFL by yielding less than an average of 300 yards per game.
Despite the Ravens recent slide in the loss column, if you are thinking the Steelers will be able to go into Baltimore and trounce that defense then you must sip less of your delusional tea.
Steelers. Ravens. Enough said.
But, then again, this is the Spin and enough is never enough when it comes to talking about the Steelers so let’s get this going.
Tomlin’s Hidden Talents
There are many legitimate arguments in questioning Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s talents when it comes to player evaluation and pure X’s and O’s. But, you would have a hard time challenging the man’s significant prowess when it comes to his ability to lead.
This was demonstrated once again in looking at what happened in Cleveland with the recently fired Haley. Years ago, when Haley came to Pittsburgh to be offensive coordinator, he arrived with a parade-full of red flags waving. The word was, he was a smart guy who couldn’t get along with players, couldn’t get along with coaches and would be a detriment to unique culture of the Steelers organization.
Yet, despite suffering from the prototypical anti-offensive coordinator bashings you’ll always be subject to by Steelers Nation, Haley was (relatively speaking) pretty much a choir boy during his stay in Pittsburgh. That’s not by accident, and is just another clear example of how strong a leader Tomlin is at the highest level of sports management.
Bearing Water Pistols
Yeah…it’s pretty fun the Steelers are back on a winning note again. That’s all great and makes for happy living rooms, man caves and bars in Pittsburgh and all around global Steelers Nation.
But, you can’t fight the uncomfortable feeling, now almost halfway through the season, this team will be heading toward the playoffs being under-weaponized. When the trade deadline came and went, and a player like Patrick Peterson was still wearing Arizona colors, it did make you wonder whether the front office is once again settling for just being good enough to make it to the playoffs.
Why The Steelers Don’t Trade
It’s true that Pittsburgh’s history long points to sitting out high-ticket free agency and big deals just before NFL trade deadlines expire. Some will describe this as part of the team’s “winning formula for success.”
Yet, another explanation is the team is too strong on confidence…or arrogance…when it comes to picking and developing their own talent. No, they shouldn’t give away first round draft picks like candy for Halloween. But, a little humility will allow them to realize that adding a “sure fire” success like Eric Weddle or Patrick Peterson to fill a desperate need, will have a higher pass completion than relying on their own recent performances.
Whole Different Generation
You can see national broadcasters struggle all of the time when introducing the Steelers to their audiences. They are inclined to talk about the Steelers as an organization built on the foundation of an impressive defense…as many of us more seasoned fans are inclined to want to do.
If you think about it, for many young Steelers fans who have been watching the team over the past decade, having an offense stronger than the defense is all they really know.
Will the Steelers identity of having the perennial top defense go the way of the old man’s tales, like those of leather helmets and quarterbacks that were once allowed to be tackled? Has the Steelers identity as a hardnosed, bruising, will-imposing team been forever faded?
If only these things really mattered. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco crowed some outlandish statements following his team’s victory in Pittsburgh earlier this season.
“I really just felt we could have 28, 30, 35 points up out there at halftime,” he reportedly said. “It’s not like today was the toughest Pittsburgh Steeler games I’ve ever played.”
Well…wasn’t he just speaking the truth? Wasn’t he just putting words to the thoughts of every fan in Steelers Nation who watched that debacle?
Sure guys. Go ahead and put it on the bulletin board. Maybe it will inspire you to make Flacco eat crow. But learn the lessons of past safety Anthony Smith many years ago when he taunted the New England Patriots prior to a game…to historic and embarrassing results.
Forget about the words other teams or players say. Just keep your yapper shut…and speak loudly on the field.
It was great news to hear former Steelers quarterback Landry Jones is getting another shot in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars. If you read the reports from Florida, their fans are underwhelmed with his addition, based mostly on watching film from his time in Pittsburgh.
But, Jones will have a shot with Blake Bortles having shoulder issues, and the only other quarterback competition on their roster being Cody Kessler. In fact, Jones has an outside chance of being their QB when the Steelers go down to Jacksonville in a couple of weeks.
Regardless, let’s hope for the best for Jones, a really good guy, that this will open the door to a new future for him. For certain, he’s a super-reliable, no drama back-up quarterback and quality team player in the NFL.
Want Some Steelers Football?
Yeah, me too. Then we have to look no further than one James Conner. I’ll be honest with you. I never truly enjoyed Le’Veon Bell’s hodgy, podgy, dancy, wancy style of running with the football. I mean…hit the hole, will you!
It also bothered me that a guy considered to be the best in the league, and wanting to be paid like BOTH a running back and receiver couldn’t take it to the house. That’s a problem, because when it’s there, you’ve got to be able to take it.
Enter young Mr. Conner. Steelers smashmouth football is back in the running game. Those giant, wonderful men up front do their part in opening a hole up for a brief moment, and Conners rewards their notable efforts by emerging through the daylight with intensity, skill and violence.
That’s football. Steelers football.
This Guy Too
God bless the Steelers doctors, trainers, massage therapists, nutritionists and cafeteria cooks. No…I really mean it. Please bless them!
Because they need to be successful in keeping tight end Vance McDonald healthy…by whatever means possible.
Because we love that guy!
Give him the ball and let Chris Berman make the sound effects as he knocks down defenders like they are inflatable Yogi Bear punching bags.
If McDonald can somehow reverse his career history of injuries, he has a legitimate chance of becoming one of Steelers Nation’s favorite players over the next few years.
Skinny Guys Rule
Well…with all of this Pomp and Circumstance, the collisions, the bulletin board statements, the high flying defense against a surging offense, this game will once again come down to the two biggest lightweights.
Yes…it’s the kickers, stupid.
There is no way there won’t be untimely fumbles, painful sacks, costly interceptions and disappointments throughout. In the end, probably the last few minutes, there will be a skinny guy prancing onto the field, shadow kicking the air, and mentally preparing to send a pigskin through the uprights.
Who will be celebrating and gesturing tauntingly at the end? Who will be shoulders and heads down, slumping off the field?
Guess we’ve gotta watch.