Steelers Spin: Tough Times Paying The Bills

The Pittsburgh Steelers 2022 championship plane is struggling to keep in the air as Coach Mike Tomlin’s dreams of proving the fans to be rank amateurs nosedived against the New York Jets by a potentially season-crashing score of 20-24.

At halftime, Tomlin finally relented to the age-old adage that the customers are always right and replaced Mitch Trubisky with local legend and number one draft pick Kenny Pickett.

What happened?

Whelp. The young lad under the encouragement of tens of thousands of “Kenny…Kenny…Kenny” chants proceeded to throw an interception on his first ever National Football League pass.

At that moment, somewhere deep in his inner psyche, Tomlin must have experienced a sensation of “I told you so”. But at a higher level he was surely feeling pure angst at all the fans who made him do it.

How did we the fans respond?

You’ll have to think back on that classic moment in National Lampoon’s Animal House when John Belushi’s character, after demolishing a borrowed car from a freshman frat boy, says to the devasted individual:

“You (messed up). You trusted us.”

But hark…is that where the story turns? Is this where the Legend Of Kenny Pickett ends?

No. It’s just the beginning, friends. A difficult start to our tale at that.

The hard times continue as it’s time to a tough time to pay the bills these days. As in paying a visit to the Buffalo Bills at the most inopportune time imaginable.

Welcome to the Big Leagues, Kid.

How will the Rook do? Will the Steelers season continue to plummet? Let’s give it a Spin.

Tomlin’s Halloween Nightmare

This season hasn’t been particularly kind to Mike Tomlin. Having completed a full coup d’etat following the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger and the exodus of longtime general manager Kevin Colbert and defensive coordinator Keith Butler, this is indubitably Tomlin’s team.

Which means he only has himself to blame for this current mess of a season.

His biggest public relations debacle so far might have been oversharing his favorite slogan to the media, “If you listen to the fans, you’ll end up sitting with them.”

Roll the nightmarish reel after he listened to the fans and put in Kenny Pickett.

You’re in the stands now with us now, Mike, with your Terrible Towel and your nachos. In fact, you’ve got a little cheese on your beard there.

Did you remember to paint the “E” on your bare chest? Good. Now, as soon as Kenny completes a touchdown pass, all of us are lifting up our grossly overpriced autographed authentic NFL jerseys to collectively display, “Steelers’.

Actually. We’ll have to settle for spelling “Stelers” as Dougie couldn’t make it today.

Just then, the nightmare ends when the team’s evening custodian gives him a shake.

“Coach…coach! Wake up. You fell asleep watching those Trubisky tapes.”

Give The Brother A Hand

When it came to proving our case in court, the Steelers fanbase has some justification in suing for malpractice.

Did Kenny Pickett fail us? Or did the team fail him?

It’s true that Kid Kenny tossed three interceptions in just one half of play. That’s projected to be six interceptions in a game for you math scholars.

But do the statistics accurately represent his debut performance?

Absolutely not. The last interception was a desperation toss into the endzone, which frankly one of the Steelers lofting receivers should have at least connected to with one of their paws.

And his first career interception to Chase Claypool? Claypool, who measures in at 6’10” or 7’1”, I can’t remember which, thought a high point catch was when you try to grasp the ball between your knees.

How different would the game’s script have been if Claypool merely lived up to his height and jumping ability?

The second critical interception? At least Pat Freiermuth would admit he could have done something better than play volleyball with the Jets secondary. That was most unfortunate.

The disappointment doesn’t end there. Where was the Steelers vaunted defense when we needed them most? One measly stop on the last Jets drive and we all could have been carrying Pickett on our shoulders through the streets of downtown Pittsburgh.

Perhaps most regrettable were reports that during the ten days prior to the Jets game, Tomlin gave Trubisky all of the meaningful reps in practices. Basically, he went all in on his desperate gamble before going bust.

We messed up. We trusted you.

Nah. Pickett’s Steelers opening act was as dreamy as we could have hoped for, minus his lack of support by his teammates and coaches. He offered much more than a spark. He gave us something to be fired up about, hopefully for the rest of his career.

Pickett’s Last Stand

Speaking of being under fire, one person who benefitted the most from Pickett trotting on the field was Pittsburgh’s highly criticized offensive coordinator Matt Canada.

Fans have been bemoaning that Matt Canada couldn’t call an offensive game even if he was granted use of Bill Belichick’s advanced spying technology.

Picket has already proven balls can be thrown down the middle of the field if you have the courage to stay in the pocket.

He also rediscovered the galloping ghost of George Pickens who showed signs of living up to all the preseason hype with a dominant performance in the second half of the game.

Can you say three times quickly, “Pittsburgh’s Pickett from the pocket, picks Pickens for the post pattern?”

The best thing that happened to Canada’s season is Pickett being handed the number one job. Now without Trubisky to blame, Pickett will be key to Canada keeping his job.

Out Of The Shadows

It’s hard to put any lipstick on the ugly news of 2021 NFL Defensive Player of the Year being on the sideline with an injury.
But it’s hard not to appreciate how much Alex Highsmith has been able to rise up into the limelight during T.J. Watt’s absence.

This isn’t how it should have played out. Highsmith should have suffered from having all of the opposing offensive coaches being able to focus on blocking him out of the game plan while T.J. is nursing his wounds.

Instead, Highsmith has flashed his immense talents and may end up being totally unstoppable when Watt returns to the field and starts drawing away blockers again. This has the makings of one of the best edge rusher tandems in Steelers history.

And that, folks, is saying a lot.

Paying The Bills

The Steelers are heading into the most treacherous branch of their season schedule with the Buffalo Bills, Tamp Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles all lining up with glee in what they surely are expecting to be a turkey shoot.

Yet, recent Steelers historians know, “We’ve got ‘em right where we want ‘em.”

This Steelers team is not talent-deprived, they are merely underperforming from a both a player and coaching perspective.

The Mitch Trubisky saga will be hard to shake, but Pickett will have the opportunity to suddenly turn the lights back on this offense, and the Steelers defensive capabilities are much brighter than it’s currently showcasing.

No coach in the NFL is better when being disrespected by Vegas oddsmakers and this game against the Bills is as underdoggy as a Steelers game has been for quite some time.

Shockingly, the Steelers are only one game out of the limping-along AFC North, with the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns each displaying significant warts of their own.

Keep in mind the Steelers have a division victory in their pocket with the hugely valuable opening season win against the Bengals.

No, National Football League. The Pittsburgh Steelers have you right where they want you.

The Steelers don’t even need to win this game to feel as if they are trending in the right direction. If they can keep this matchup against the Bills to a field goal or a touchdown, seasonal hope will still be on the menu.

And is that T.J. Watt riding his horse slowly toward us on the horizon?

If the Steelers somehow manage to pull off the upset against Buffalo? Their greatest one in recent history?

Then all will be well in the Burgh.

Regardless? With Pickett leading the charge. Football is fun again for Steelers fans. So…let’s ride.

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