The Pittsburgh Steelers are proud of fostering an environment within their organization in which players feel free to express themselves and to grow and develop, and to maintain contacts and relationship with the team long after their retirement. This is why they have a rich alumni tradition, and why you see many former Steelers players, for example, enter the world of broadcasting.
Of course, it comes with a double-edged sword, because it leaves your team open for criticism when things are not going well, and even though the Steelers are 11-3 right now, they are riding an embarrassing three-game losing streak that includes defeat at the hands of two opponents who have losing records, neither of whom are starting the quarterback they began the season with.
Really, things can’t be much bleaker for a team that is eight games over .500 and is already locked in for a playoff berth, barring even more severe injuries. They do, at least, still have Ben Roethlisberger and T.J. Watt and the like, after all. But there’s a reason we’re hearing the frustration from the alumni, and Ryan Clark held back least of all.
“You tell me, who can they beat?”, the former Super Bowl-winning safety asked on ESPN after Monday’s loss. “Can they beat the Colts? No. Can they beat the Tennessee Titans in the playoffs? No. Can they beat the Cleveland Browns? We know they can’t beat the Kansas City Chiefs. We know they can’t beat the Buffalo Bills. We look at this team play offense, they are playing at such a deficit each game, there’s no way that they’ll win”.
He called the Steelers’ 11-0 start “fool’s gold” and pointed out that they are now losing players on defense, including some important pieces like Bud Dupree and Devin Bush that they are not going to be getting back at any point this season. “As a Pittsburgh Steeler fan, as an alum, I am sad because I don’t see them winning a game in the playoffs”, he said.
“You couldn’t convert third-and-ones, fourth-and-ones. The pass game was inefficient”, he said. “There weren’t drops but there were the incompletions, the were passes that were blown up, the interceptions by the Cincinnati Bengals. They made the Cincinnati Bengals look like an All-Pro, Pro Bowl–caliber defense and they haven’t been that all year”.
Of course, the only way to stop the negative talk is to strap up and play better. Their first opportunity to do that comes Monday in that may be their final game at Heinz Field this season if they don’t manage to win at least one of their next two games.