We've been waiting over eight days for the opportunity to see if the Steeelers could help us erase the tragic memory of last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. Perhaps not coincidentally, this has been one of our more loquacious weeks on BTSC in quite some time. Coaching decisions, roster tweakings (or at least the ones we see fit from our omnipresent and all-knowing armchairs), the truly offensive offensive line To mix things up, you know, to change the atmosphere around here from being morgue-like 24/7, there was ample praise heaped on the defense for the amazing job they did keeping the team in the game despite how horrendous the offense was. And of course, we reminded ourselves we're not Browns or Bengals fans. Nothing quite changes the mood in even the darkest hour of a Steelers lifer.
Whatever the subject, we either talked ourself off the proverbial ledge or vented our frustrations more spiritedly following last week's loss than in quite some time. Not sure what that means, but I'll give it a stab.
The writing's on the wall this next two weeks and we know it. We got out butts kicked last week. No two ways about it. Knowing what we do about this organization, and many of the individuals on the team, you can rest assured that they were eager to get to work this week to prepare for whatever Baltimore has in store for them tonight. But more importantly, I bet that guys like Hines Ward, James Harrison and Farrior, et al are going to make sure the Steelers are the team who comes out swinging. We saw it last year against Baltimore. You know what I mean, and what we saw last week was the antithesis of what setting the tone physically is.
Tonight, we have to prove we can stop the blitz. You know Baltimore's bringing it until we prove it an overly risky strategy. Tonight, we have to find a way to run the ball successfully, at least some of the time, even though we'll be relying on a rookie RB making his first NFL start, and even though we've have had next to no success in recent year's doing so against this Baltimore defense. And we have to show we're capable of winning the line of scrimmage on defense without Casey Hampton and Brett Keisel. We managed last week masking the Diesel's absence. Doing the same for both is a much taller order.
Bruce Arians has to prove his apologetic words for last week were more than just words. I'm eager to see what he has in store for a defense that likely will be taking some big chances early on at getting after Ben. I'm eager to see if there will be any unexpected roster maneuverings. Max Starks's turn?
(I'd say something else about the defense but that'd be disingenous. They've been too damn good to raise a peep about their performance).
We know there are some issues with the team. That's a somewhat dissapointing reality, but remember, there are teams with fewer glaring flaws that don't have the same upside we do. When the team's on, like they were against Houston on offense and against Philadelphia on defense in the second half, it's as good as anyone in this year's league. And because there is not a dominant team in the league this year it's anyone's game (not only is there no truly dominant team as Dallas proved yesterday, even the better teams have serious flaws).
But before resigning ourselves to any one particular fate, or said differently and more directly...before concluding definitively that our offensive line will be our demise this year, we still have the chance, starting tonight, to be a good offensive line for the rest of the year. What will it take for that to happen, you ask, as you try to clean up the beverage you just spewed from your mouth and nose all over your keyboard and TPS reports after reading such an absurd statement? Well, it'd have to take a shakeup of the lineup, in my humble opinion, but since we all know that that's not happening before the BYE week in two weeks (at the earliest), we can only hope that Coach Z and his boys, as well as Big Ben, all worked their asses off in the film room trying to figure out what in the sam hell happened.
It was astutely pointed out this past week that the quarterback has a large role in calling out blocking assignments based on what he sees at the line of scrimmage. If you've seen Peyton Manning and the Colts play, you've seen all the spastic things he does at the line of scrimmage. The hand gestures. The audibles. The fake audibles. 85% of it may be to perpetuate his own legend for endorsement purposes, but the other 15%, the critcal part, is either figuring out what the defense has in store for him, OR, getting the defense to second guess itself later in the game.
Anyway, it's on Big Ben too, and I don't think we've emphasized that enough. I know there is nobody better than Ben Roethlisberger at standing by his teamates, particularly his linemen. That's very important, but it's more important they're spending as much time as possible together trying new things to communicate more effectively during the games. If we're not going to change the lineups, we better be trying to substantially alter our communication and practice technique during the week.
And of course, Bruce Arians can help in this regard, as we've discussed. As good, loyal Steelers fans, we give the man tabula rasa to get the job done. Who knows how many more duds we'll lay before Arians is truly on the hot-seat, but it's safe to say he's not there yet. And since he's not there, we can hope for nothing but better, more consistent play-calling. We've had some clunkers in the past 21 games since he took over, but we've had some gems too. We know what the team can do against the Texans, Browns, Rams, of the league. It's time to start stringing together some solid offensive performances together against more quality defenses.
But above all else, there must never be such embarassing performances like the one we saw last Sunday. No one is perfect but the extremes (at least the extremely bad) have to go. Even if you don't have the juicy, plump lemons to make delicious lemonade, you 've got good enough fruit to make something that doesn't taste like a mixture of toilet water, Lake Erie and prune juice.
As the Dali Lama Willie Colon once famously said:
"If we do not make changes, we are going to have problems," right tackle Willie Colon said. "If we do not get on the same page, these things are going to continue to happen."
Wrap your head around that one.
I dare ya.
Forget all that though. I can handle falling short later in the year, if need be. We're playing the fuc*&ng Ravens tonight with first place at stake.. We better come to play and look like Super Bowl Champions, even if just for tonight.
This is our open thread for the game but jump on in to the mix with thoughts about the game, season, TPS reports, whether or not you've seen the movie Celtic Pride and if you think we could pull of a similar stunt with some of our own players along the line. Whatever the subject, let it be known here. Let's have some fun watching the Steelers reclaim first place in their throwbacks!