Panic in Pittsburgh?
I have always said that if the Steelers (or any other team) go 3-1 for each quarter of the season at worst, the season should be viewed as a positive one. No matter how the wins play out, nobody in their right mind would stress over going 12-4 unless the four losses came consecutively.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are now 0-1-1. How ugly is that to look at? Tying the “rejuvenated” Cleveland Browns to open up the season and getting lit up by Chiefs young emerging pocket passer Patrick Mahomes at home at Heinz Field, probably has the most dedicated Ravens fan scratching their head.
Understand that we’re talking about the Pittsburgh Steelers, the franchise that holds the league’s most Lombardi Trophies (6), a franchise that once won a Super Bowl with the youngest quarterback to do so (Roethlisberger), the franchise to win a Super Bowl with the youngest head coach in Mike Tomlin and a team that has enjoyed an embarrassment of riches on offense that marquees Big Ben, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell.
We’re talking about a franchise whose culture has played into the media’s hands as of late, and has gradually shifted from textbook league bully’s, to egotistical personalities.
But how can a group full of this much emotion, excitement and personality be bad for any franchise you ask? Well, ask Rex Ryan and Pete Carrol how their media driven teams have played out in the past. Sure guys love to play for them, and I’m sure love it even more when a majority of them feel/felt entitled to being a team’s spokesman…but at what point should the show have ended? A question that has to be surfacing around Pittsburgh for Mike Tomlin and the Steelers.
Flashback to last year’s sideline feud between Antonio Brown, and now Browns offensive coordinator, Todd Haley and fast forwarding to this afternoons sideline spat between Brown and Steelers offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner, signals to me, that Mike Tomlin, now in his eleventh year, has allowed a culture of “me guys” instead of “we guys.”
Could it be that Tomlin, the “players coach” has lost control of the team? Maybe the lack of discipline is finally surfacing to the public? It could be both, along with a number of other things, but I make those suggestions confidently, considering AB’s captured tantrums (don’t forget the postgame playoff Facebook Live post from 2017), Bell’s ongoing contract drama, the league’s substance abuse programs familiar faces (Bell, Blount and Bryant) and everything else in between, which seems to come to surface between losses. The bottom line is, there too many issues that aren’t football related, contributing to the narrative of this football team.
Is that a reason to panic this early in the season? Damn right it is. On top of that, Roethlisberger started the season with three interceptions, AB only has 18 receptions on 33 targets, although solid, Bell’s backup is simply a game manager versus a game changer and the defense looks as discombobulated as it did in 2013. The standard of business in the NFL is simply, you cannot play as porous as the defense did and expect to come out with a win, playing from behind or not, no matter how much talent there is on offense.
It’s frustrating to see Fichtner (who is “nice” to Roethlisberger) struggle tremendously with effective offensive play-calling and the fact that defensive coordinator Keith Butler has allowed the defense to give up 63 points in two games, leads me to think he couldn’t draw up a play to stop pedestrians from crossing into oncoming traffic.
It’s been an egregious start to the season from offense and defense to coaching and game planning, but there are however a couple reasons not to panic.
Monday concludes just week two of NFL football…it’s not college football, no loss is detrimental this early in the season, and a couple losses doesn’t drop you from any significant ranking or playoff relevance. The offense is without it’s foundational run support in Bell, Ben can’t shake and take like he used to, there’s nothing that screams height outside of Jessie James for Ben to throw to on the regular and the defense is without their top defensive dog in Shazier…of course there are going to be slow adjustments but when it’s this early, it’s all about finding that rhythm and stride.
I’d like to think the Steelers still run the AFC North, will at worst win 10 games and make the playoffs in good health.
Yes, all the negatives that surround this team play a part into why Steeler Nation has the right to be frustrated, but following the game, respected defensive end Cam Heyward on behalf of the defense and team, vowed to get to work starting in practice while Big Ben said they’d put it behind them. Assurance and relief?
Makes me feel good, but I personally like results. Although the season is just beginning, unless major adjustments are made across the board, this drama plagued Steelers team may be playing through the beginning to an end.