It’s official. The 2019 version of the Pittsburgh Steelers are mediocre. They now have a record of 5-5 and every ounce of “meh-ness” expressed in that math is a rightful representation of who they are so far this year as a team.
Can they be a spoiler? Can they be part of the biggest Cinderella story in the history of the National Football League?
But, this is not a dominant team. This is not a collection of 53 ready for primetime football stars.
This was succinctly proven with their extraordinarily disappointing loss to the flailing and one breath away from completely self-destructing Cleveland Browns by a score of 21-7.
Sadly. It was not even that close.
The Steelers offense was so uncompetitive, anemic and helpless against their counterparts that it brought painful flashbacks of the days of Mark Malone, Mike Tomzcak, Bubby Brister and Kent Graham.
But that defense of the Steelers? Even know it wasn’t their best performance of the year, they still showcased their clear ascent to team preeminence.
Which means the front office and coaching staff of the Steelers have failed at the game of Whack-A-Mole.
After investing many first and second round draft picks on defenders, and then trading the great unknown future for Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Black and Gold has FINALLY whacked down the mole of years of an underperforming defense.
The defense is back in Pittsburgh. That mole has been whacked.
But, wouldn’t you know it…just as that mole is beaten down…what pops up is the ugliest looking mole of an offense we’ve seen since…well some cowboy named Big Ben rode into town.
Don’t hang up your spurs over all of this Steelers Nation. We can still ride this baby cheerfully into the sunset this year. It’s just going to take a heavy duty Spin this time around.
Rise Of The Defense
Remember about ten years ago what everyone was saying?
That was, the rule changes that were made in favor of quarterbacks and receivers had made defenses irrelevant.
The game had devolved into throw, throw, throw.
Take a good look around the league now. The best teams? They have great defenses.
Isn’t it interesting what you see happening in New England this year? Bill Belichick has been preparing for the inevitable decline and eventual retirement of Tom Brady by quietly building himself a dominant defense.
The Steelers front office got fooled a decade ago into thinking their once great defense wasn’t going to be enough to take them to the Promiseland.
They poured all of their resources into trying to reanimate the Air Coryell version of the 80’s San Diego Chargers and as a result their defense fell into serious disrepair.
Hopefully, that lesson has been learned for all Steelers eternity. Or at least until I start pushing up daisies.
Defenses must always change. But, no championships are won without them.
Let’s hope the Steelers organization never allows their Steel Curtain to rust again.
Even if it means we need to bring Kent Graham out of retirement.
Is Rudolph That Bad?
There is no sugar coating it. Even coming from a once starry-eyed fan of Mason Rudolph myself. He looked really poor against the Browns. I have to admit I’ve lost a little of that loving feeling. However; am I being fair to the young quarterback? And are you?
His offensive line betrayed him in the worst way, letting defenders a free pass to the pocket like they were bearing Willie Wonka’s Golden Ticket. When I saw Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro beating up on Myles Garrett at the end of the game, I was like, Where the heck was that DURING the game.
The running backs did Mason no favor. They couldn’t find a hole in a slice of Swiss cheese that night. Meanwhile, his receivers refused to get open or catch the ball.
And, yes, Juju Smith-Schuster went down to injury, but it’s not like he’s been exactly putting fear and loathing into the hearts of the NFL defensive coordinators this year.
So is Mason Rudolph any good? How in the world would we know?
And if you’re waiting for Ben Roethlisberger to ride in on his horse anytime soon to save the day, you might be forgetting what he looked like against the New England Patriots in the first game of the season.
No…this offense is unquestionably weak and it really shouldn’t be. There is enough talent on this team to convert 3rd and 2’s in the big leagues. And this isn’t, by any means, exclusively a Mason Rudolph problem.
So what gives? Just the facts. This…is a very, poorly coached unit right now.
Why is it that this offensive line can’t move the pile? There is a large investment in the veteran players on this squad and the payoff has been disappointing.
When you’re pouring this much of your cap into an interior line like this, you ought to be able to open a hole where even Rich Eisen can scratch a few yards.
And what about once promising players like Chukwuma Okorafor? Why isn’t he taking the next step up in his career? And why does it look like Alejandro Villanueva is taking a step back?
This isn’t rocket science. The team has desperately missed the genius of Mike Munchak.
Now…hold it you say. Munchak went to Denver and since the Broncos aren’t Super Bowl bound that must mean he’s a bum.
That dog won’t hunt. It won’t fetch. It won’t even eat a freshly uncanned bowl of Alpo.
All of us were mortified upon hearing that Munchak was leaving the team and unfortunately all of our worst fears came true.
Worse Than Assault
It was bad enough that Myles Garrett decided to use a helmet as a lethal weapon on live national television. Usually, if you’re going to assault someone you should do it without millions of witnesses. Criminal. And stupid.
But, that wasn’t the worst crime. The idea that he would accuse Rudolph of using the “word that shouldn’t be spoken” was sinking even lower than I thought he could go.
I HATE the “word that shouldn’t be spoken”. So much so, I don’t like to hear it to come out of anyone’s mouth, regardless of their color of skin.
In elementary and middle school I was a year and half younger than my classmates, which meant I was a scrawny, freckled faced, red headed kid that spent a lot of time running down hallways getting my milk money stolen. I know A LITTLE about people being treated poorly because of the way they look. (Fortunately, I did end up being a full grown man in high school and was able to exact revenge.)
I’ve always hated hate. I DESPISE that when I criticize Mike Tomlin as a coach in this column, that some IDIOT will accuse me of being racist. I also DESPISE when in that same article some IDIOT from the other side of Moronsville starts rambling about the Rooney Rule. Just take your garbage elsewhere, please.
Steelers Nation knows no race, nor religion. We are family. I believe the NFL should be a place where we all gather together without any of that idiocy.
I firmly believe that if anyone utters the “word that shouldn’t be spoken” they should be banished from the National Football League, or at least get a very lengthy suspension.
Equally so, I think anyone that falsely accuses another of using that word, should get the same treatment. Garrett’s embarrassing claim has now permanently attached a Scarlett Letter to Rudolph’s career. Garrett should be held accountable for that.
At Least There Is This
The Cleveland Browns have been so bad and so boring for so many years, it really hasn’t been enjoyable to play them. They called it a rivalry and we were like, “Yeah…right.”
But, no longer.
Will there be a more meaningful game than the rematch coming up at Heinz Field a week from now?
Bring it on Brownies.
Oh Yeah…There’s A Game This Weekend
The floundering Pittsburgh Steelers versus the 0-10 Cincinnati Bengals. Now there’s a game in dire need of a lot of lipstick.
Yet, with Tomlin heading up the team, these 0-10 games are always an adventure.
Injuries. Bad officiating. Blah…blah..blah.
This Steelers defense is strong enough to completely take over the game against the Bengals and they must.
There is enough talent in the offense to get things moving back in the right direction.
Are you for real this year’s Pittsburgh Steelers? Then show us your stripes against the woeful Bengals.
And please. Convert some third downs.