Nation Of Unrest
A dark cloud has settled over Steeler Nation in what has become the worst start to the season in recent memory. Knee jerk reactions abound with talk of firing this guy, releasing that guy, and there’s still eight games remaining before the season officially ends. Then of course there are those ardent Yinzers who think they can strap it on and win at least seven of the remaining eight, 9-7 would surely be good enough for a wild card spot. Well, the realty is the benchmark of matching last years disappointing record of 8-8 will be a stretch. After victories against the Jets and Rat-Birds, respectively, it certainly did appear as if they had rectified their woes and could start winning on a consistent basis. However, after Oakland held them to 18 points and Tom Terrific put his historic stamp on us, it’s clear this team will struggle moving forward and here’s why. Three of the upcoming games are against playoff caliber teams including Detroit, Cincinnati, and Green Bay. Stafford to Calvin Johnson, Rogers to Jordy Nelson, Dalton to A.J. Green, all these quarterback to receiver combinations are a mismatch that will be an additional 3 loses. I’ll say we split with the Browns and loose to Big Joe and the Rat-Birds on the second meeting. I’m going give us a win this week against the Bills, but a lose to the Dolphins, as their defense is very stout. That would bring us to 4-12, and also place us high in the 2014 draft with the potential to finally draft some quality players at some key positions. The Super Bowl will not go through Pittsburgh this year.
There’s a myriad of reasons why an NFL Team is not good, just as there are specific reasons why a Team is great. In this age of parody, free agency, and injury plagued rosters, one has to wonder whether there will even be a Dynasty in this decade. Since 2001 three quarterbacks predominately have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl, Peyton Manning (2), Ben Roethlisberger (3), and Tom Brady (5). Joe Flacco won it all last year, but doesn’t look to be making a strong push for a repeat anytime soon. Baltimore has become depleted in a similar fashion as the Steelers, the loss of veteran players, salary cap issues, and of course the rash of injuries that effect every teams roster. The Steelers have managed to stay consistently good due to sound ownership, stability in the coaching ranks, and a quality and concept that was developed in the 1970’s and has remained in tact over four decades. However, those trademarks seem to be vanishing as this team moves into a new era.
It is a quandary indeed, when I picked the outcome of this season after reviewing the schedule, my best guess was 11-5, or worst 10-6. Of course that was assuming Big Ben stayed healthy, and quite frankly I’m surprised he’s lasted this long without injury. Big Ben has been sacked 35 times over an 8 game stretch The interesting thing being is they’ve stayed in the games and have fought to the final gun, with the exception to the blow-out in New England, and rightfully should’ve won a couple of them. Of course close is not quite good enough, a missed play here, a missed assignment, turn-overs, all equal sloppy football.
Who’s In Charge?
And that’s where the metal meets the road with any organization, of course it always starts with ownership, and up until now that’s been the strength of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s only been a few short years now since Dan Rooney handed the reigns over to his son, Art #2. Along with the responsibilities that come along with being Ambassador of Ireland, as well as simply the lifestyle that goes with being a man in his advanced years, it’s safe to say Dan doesn’t have much say when it comes to operations and decision making these days. The first thing that struck me as odd was how the situation with Hines Ward was handled, mid to late season in his final year he was benched, only used very sparingly even though he showed no signs of his skills diminishing or his impact any less important. The Steelers have never been shy about showing marque veterans the door, starting with Franco Harris back in 1983. The release of outside linebacker James Harrison was also another move shrouded in a bit of mystery other than the X’s and O’s and number crunching. He’d certainly be making a bigger impact by staying one more year in Pittsburgh than the production he’s having in Cincinnati one would like to think. Then there was the way in which Bruce Arians was released, the organization issuing a statement that Arians was retiring, when in fact he’s now the Head Coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
The top story this week is the prospective trade of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in the off season, Art #2 issued a statement during the Buffalo Bills game, albeit in the form of a graphic overlay on the screen, that the rumors are false and unfounded. After the game Big Ben vehemently denied the story and was believable in doing so. Then again the story resurfaced this week during the half time show of the NFL networks Thursday night game, only five days after it had been denied by the organization and Big Ben himself. My first reaction was that Ben would seek a trade, after 10 years of mostly winning seasons and championships, he has accomplished the dubious distinction of being the most sacked quarterback in NFL history. There is a big difference between being a renegade 22 year old gunslinger and a early 30’s married man with 2 kids. Who could blame Big Ben for wanting to get out of this current mess, with the revolving underachieving personal on the front line, there doesn’t seem to be much hope of improvement anytime soon. And the odd thing is the plan was to draft talented lineman, which they did, bring in a talented running back and hand the ball off more, which they did. Yet there’s still trouble in paradise for a team and a city that counts on the annual play-off run as much as they do Christmas. You’ve got to wonder, who really is running the show these days.