Having a hard time sleeping again Pittsburgh Steelers fans? Is Bill Belichick in your head as much as he is in Coach Mike Tomlin’s?
That’s to be expected since the New England Patriots have won seven of their last eight games against Pittsburgh, each resulting in a snarling, unbearable jubilance on Belichick’s villainous face.
Some Hollywood casting director needs to place him in a future Batman movie. After all, he’s pretty good at filming as well.
Who REALLY was surprised when Tomlin was on the losing side of the obligatory coaching handshake after yet another disappointing game against Boston’s pride and joy, this time by a score of 14-17?
Don’t be overly discouraged Steelers Nation. After all, nothing cures the Blues more than the Browns.
That’s right. When Cleveland was fairly recently deciding on a new city slogan, one of the popular recommendations was, “Winning Isn’t Everything.”
This woeful National Football League team once again broke the Internet for all of the wrong reasons in the offseason by paying massagonist Deshaun Watson $230 million dollars so he would be able to afford all of those fines and lawsuits he was facing.
Cleveland has the only Front Office that has to spend most of its time hiding in the back closet following all of the questionable moves they continue to make over and over again.
That bad Patriot hangover won’t last long as the hair of the dog pound is just a two-hour bus ride away.
Will this visit to Cleveland be just what the doctor ordered for depressed Steelers fans around the world? Let’s give it a Spin.
Irrational Lack Of Exuberance
What’s with all of the sad faces Steelers Nation?
We’re 1-1. We’re at the Tomlin line and on a clear path to enjoying another regular season without a losing record. It’s all we ask out of our team these days, is it not?
Yet seriously. What’s with all of the sad faces?
We have a team we love. We get riveting entertainment almost every Sunday (with a few sprinklings of Thursdays and Mondays) and even in the worst games we’re given something to dance, shout and cheer about in a weekly respite from reality.
We’re sharing first place in a rather surprisingly underperforming division and the vast majority of our players are fine young men with bright futures and many of our veterans are true pillars of the community.
So cheer up, Buttercups. We play the Cleveland Browns and their uber-talented quarterback is still on his long NFL-enforced timeout.
Tomlin’s Red Hankey
Yet. This doesn’t mean we can’t be disappointed with our favorite team. And some of the decisions of our highly respected and famous head coach.
Coach Tomlin’s record in defying the Steelers fanbase’s collective football IQ is about as successful as his red flag challenges during the games.
At the end of last season, fans were clamoring for Tomlin to make a clean sweep of his coaching staff who all clearly performed far below the bar.
He did acquiesce somewhat by pushing up the date by a few years of Keith Butler’s retirement party, but it was duly and loudly noted he didn’t complete the job.
Somehow struggling Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada missed the firm sweep of the broom.
“Hey, Coach Tomlin…you forgot something. Don’t send the cleaning crew home quite yet.”
As usual, Tomlin reminded all of us that we were incapable of understanding reality at his level of consciousness, basically letting us all know that just like Jack Nicholson once made clear…we couldn’t handle the truth.
In evaluating Canada’s future back in February, Tomlin had this to say:
“You know, I’m optimistic about Matt (Canada) and what he’s capable of doing.”
Rather than replacing Canada, who demonstrated rather emphatically he was over his head last year, and putting in a dynamic new talent in the role, we’re left with another wasted offseason of preparing the team for a Kindergarten level offense.
When Tomlin boasts about his ability and that of his team’s to be able to “block out the noise” let’s be clear about the roles we play in his play.
We’re the noise.
One of the benefits of having a longtime Rooney family-owned franchise with a history of issuing patience and having appreciation for continuity is you can have head coaches like Chuck Noll, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin who are given the opportunity to fully realize their long visions for the team.
One of the downsides of having a longtime Rooney family-owned franchise with a history of issuing patience and having appreciation for continuity is that head coaches can make themselves feel too much at home.
When you work for a team where the coaching chair is more throne than hot seat, you’re able to really spread your wings and build a locker room full of players and coaches who you thoroughly enjoy hanging out with both on and off the field.
Who needs or wants odd, ill tempered genius offensive coordinators when you can hire ones who are so much more willing to…go with the flow?
Tomlin is a genius himself when it comes to team chemistry and unity. Maybe it’s time for him to challenge his own brilliance by showing he can manage the type of odd fellows who are willing to come in and shake things up for the better.
Maybe even ones who say, “Coach Tomlin, I’ll be managing the offense while I’m here, thank you very much.”
No more Mr. Nice Guys. We need to start winning at chess again.
Other teams coaching staffs have been able to batter Belichick’s defenses and shut down his offenses. We need to be able to do the same.
This is the modern-day National Football League. You can’t win with an offensive strategy that is built around “avoiding mistakes.”
This offense has had training wheels on for years now. Ever since Ben Roethlisberger grimaced as he clasped his elbow a few years back, this offense has been in a high chair with a sippy cup. The only passing game has been an occasional tossing of Cheerios at passerbys.
This might be a useful Minimum Viable Product plan for a team with a historically epic defense, but we do not own that particular model this year.
We have a potentially strong defense that is more than capable of handling their side of the bargain. But they are not good enough to cover for childish play by their counterparts.
Whether this team has had quarterbacks named after a waterfowl, or ones recovering from a fowl elbow, it’s been five-yard passes and three and outs for all too long.
It’s time for Coach Mike Tomlin to cross the Canada border and say, “Let’s see all of your long-promised fireworks against the Browns…or else you’re fired.”
There should be no job too safe. No play too safe from here on out.
When it comes to the Cleveland Browns, their offense definitely isn’t the type you can trust “when it absolutely has to get their overnight”. They aren’t a FedEx offense, but rather they rely on UPS Ground unit.
What can brown do for you?
This is especially true with longtime NFL journeyman Jacoby Brissett wearing the quarterback badge for them. He’s better than Steelers fans may think, but he’s also only keeping a seat warm until the Browns Chosen One returns from his suspension.
But this ground game? It’s awesome. With Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt toting the ball, the Browns can easily claim to have the best one-two punch in the NFL.
After having the Patriots choke the life out the Steelers by running out the game clock with a soul draining 13 plays in the final six minute and thirty-three seconds of the game, the Steelers Achilles Heel of the 2021 season stuck out like a sore ankle.
Can the 2022 version of the Steelers defense stop the run? The early returns against the Cincinnati Bengals in game one appeared to be encouraging.
Yet, after witnessing the Patriots relatively beleaguered offensive line ram the ball down Pittsburgh’s throats in the fourth quarter, the question must be asked and answered again.
What better team to rapidly provide that answer than the Cleveland Browns on Thursday?
Forget about the question of who is going to be the Steelers quarterback moving forward. True. That’s a big, hairy audacious one.
But even more important is the question of whether or not this Steelers defense…the grownup in the team locker room…can stop the run.
If not. You can already throw this season out in the recycling bin.
People are strange. Especially those who decided an NFL game should be played on a Thursday, only a few days after a Sunday match.
This is NFL corporate greed of the worst kind. No professional football players should be asked to perform only a few days after heated battle.
No NFL football fans should be asked to watch their teams play for full price in such diminished form.
It’s bad football. A bad decision by the NFL.
Yet, watch we will. And we will hope our Pittsburgh Steelers can somehow rediscover their Mojo in Cleveland, a place historically healthy for spa treatments for teams currently suffering with ailments.
This will be one of the most pivotal games in recent Steelers history. If Pittsburgh wins emphatically, then Tomlin can continue to block out the noise and at least for a few weeks continue to do things his way. Just like Frank Sinatra.
If they don’t succeed, expect there to be wholesale changes to this team. With the long break between games there will be more than enough time for this team to make a season-shifting pit stop.
The result? Probably a new quarterback. And perhaps even a new offensive coordinator. If they can’t stop the run, it might even result in some major tire changes in approach and personnel on that side of the field as well.
There is SO much on the line this Thursday, on this strangest of days.
This game may not be pretty. But it certainly will be one we shouldn’t take our eyes off of, not even for a moment.