Before everyone has a freaking coronary, allow me to explain. Last years playoff run was no fluke. The defense was by far the best in the league. Big Ben was his usual self and came up big in that final drive. Santonio played out of his mind and special teams did not allow the big play in kickoff coverage. Are you starting to get my drift? I'll break itt down for you one by one.
While the defense is still exceptional, and the drop off from last year has not been significant, the season is just past the halfway point and the lack of depth is bound to take it's toll. Smith is gone, Timmons is dinged up, and Troy cannot be counted on to finish the season, his knee is clearly a bigger problem than anyone on the Steelers cares to admit. The defense has pride and it has heart, and it has Dick LeBeau. But it's another year older and lacking depth. There are brutal games on the horizon and I just don't see them holding up well enough to make a serious run through the playoffs. One more major injury and they might not even see the playoffs.
Big Ben is not his usual self. I mentioned this in another post and it was pooh poohed by the faithful. I'm going to say it again and if you can't see it you are clearly in a state of denial. Big Ben isn't right in the head for all the obvious reasons. He's a future hall of famer and 2 time Super Bowl champ, I love the guy and expect amazing things from him in the future. But I am not so foolish to think that anyone having been accused, falsely or otherwise, of a heinous crime who is currently awaiting trial could have his head completely in anything, especially the pressure packed, fast paced, highly cerebral job of a winning NFL QB. As much as I dislike Bruce Arians playcalling, there were plays to be made yesterday, everyone gets a little blame, but Ben was not sharp and it's not the first time this year that he was obviously out of sorts.
Holmes. He's made some big plays this year. And he has left some bigger plays on the field. Hines is Hines and you can expect 100% from him every Sunday, but Hines 100% is not what it used to be and Santonio needs to step it up. It wasn't well documented but he was struggling with a wrist injury or something earlier in the year. I'm not sure that he is completely healthy. Holmes potentially dealing with a nagging injury, Hines dealing with father time, Heath Miller spending too much time in the backfield providing support to an O-line that frankly seems to be a bit over hyped this year (which is to be expected considering what an improvement they have been from last year), add it all up and it's a recipe for disaster.
Just a note on Arians, the league has figured this guy out for the fraud of an offensive coordinator that he is. The offense does it's best work when Ben calls the plays. If you can, please convince me otherwise. And for those of you who think we should be running more, see last comment. Ben calls a balanced attack.
Special Teams. The return unit is definitely improved from last year and IMHO it has everything to do with Stefan Logan. It seems to me that we give no support to this guy at all and yet he continues to put us up around the thirty yard line with consistency. Perhaps that has something to do with the rule changes regarding the wedge, but it's obvious that other teams have made the necessary adjustments, painfully obvious. Some of you have said that Logan is a liability on coverage which negates the field position he gives us with his returns. But when I watch the replays he seems to be the first one down the field on every play, he does get knocked around a bit, but he is relentless and has made some big plays. I think I heard the word scapegoat in another post. If a scapegoat is what we are looking for, Logan is the last place to look.
I think I hear a bus coming down the road, quick, grab Bruce Arians.
I've seen a lot of offensive lineman limp off the field this year and then return to play, could that be because there is no one to replace them and how long can this trend continue?
Positive thinking does not equal positive yardage.
I love Mike Tomlin but we are about to find out just what kind of coach and leader he really is. Should this team falter in the playoffs, or heaven forbid fail to reach the playoffs there are going to be some tough decisions to be made in the off season. Will Coach T make the correct evaluations and proper adjustments, is he willing to let go of a few members of his coaching staff if need be? Time will tell.
OK guys and gals. I've said my piece. Now it's your turn to rake me over the coals. I don't expect to be a very popular guy this week but what the heck, it should be fun getting my ass verbally kicked for the next few days. I can take it. Fire away.