If there is one thing that fans hate more than their team losing—or winning while not playing particularly well—it’s hearing excuses for performance deficiencies, or seeming denials of said deficiencies. Fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be particularly good at pointing this out, but then again, my exposure to Steelers fans is far greater than my exposure to fans of other teams.
With that said, it is a fact that the team has had an unconventional past few weeks in terms of scheduling, and it is also a fact that they have never had a full and proper bye week this year. At least they have a known extra day for their next game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night.
“We’ve been thrown a curveball”, Cameron Heyward said about their scheduling oddities in recent weeks. “Usually, we have our padded practice on a Wednesday, but these past three weeks have been kind of—get the practice in if you can, let’s move forward, but we’re not gonna try and weigh anybody down”.
“This is the first week we’ve actually been allowed a full allotment of time for guys to get their bodies right, practice on a Wednesday, and we actually have an extra day”, he added. “I don’t know what we’re gonna do, that’s Coach’s decision, but we have to make sure we’re ready for every situation, whether it’s goal line, just being able to hit guys off the line of scrimmage, we’ve got to be able to impose our will”.
How much of a difference will this ‘extra’ time make to the Steelers’ ability to be successful on the field? Will an extra day of rest, following multiple games on which they had to play on short weeks, truly be beneficial, giving guys’ bodies more opportunity to get right?
Heyward’s comment also seems to imply that they have had some lighter practices than they might normally have in order to accommodate for the fact that they have been operating on a truncated schedule for the past couple of games.
One thing to consider is the fact that the Steelers have had a lot of injuries lately, and that has required people to step in that ordinarily wouldn’t be playing, or to take on larger roles. It’s even more important for players like that to have the typical amount of time to get their work in and to prepare for their roles.
It also means that guys like T.J. Watt have to play even more because there are fewer bodies to go around at the position, and when you add in a shortened work week with less healing time, it could have an accumulative effect. In other words, they had better make the most of this one extra day.