I am not a fan of ripping the team after losses. It seems a lot of people want to scream bloody murder and demand the head of Mike Tomlin when the team loses. I don't like it because, up until this point, it was either too early to panic or we were still in the playoffs despite our recent losses. But now things are different. Now we are on the outside looking in, and need to win out just to make the playoffs. Now is the time for panic, and now is the time to demand better from the Steelers. I'm going to call out players who need to play better. It's not personal, and I'm not saying we should automatically cut or fire them if they don't meet these expectations. All I'm saying is that these guys NEED to step up or else the Steelers will not be holding another Lombardi Trophy any time soon.
It starts with the head coach. To think otherwise would be to ignore the impact a head coach has on his team. Tomlin is known as a players' coach, but its time he turn that around. It's time he attack his players for stupid mistakes. This team needs to play smarter, from not taking bad sacks, to fumbling in the 4th quarter, to running out of bounds when you need to keep the clock running, and to not maintaining their assignments on defense. Tomlin should be angry that this team is 7-7, and its time he take that anger out on his players.
For the second time this year, Brown lost a fumble when the team had the lead in the 4th quarter. For that reason alone, he has blown any chance of earning his contract extension this year. He also had a bad drop that nearly led to an interception early in the 1st quarter. Not only that, running out of bounds in the 4th quarter has to be one of the stupidest decisions on a football field I've seen in years. I was astonished that neither Tomlin nor Ben nor Haley took Brown aside and publicly humiliated him for giving the Cowboys an extra timeout with the game on the line. If Brown wants to earn his contract, he needs to stop costing the team games.
Ben is having the best season of his career, even though the team is only 7-7. He has carried the team to this point thus far. Now its time to take the team further. Ben has always prided himself on being a winner at the expense of being known as one of the best passers of his era. But if he wants to extend his legacy and really be thought of as a quarterback of Brady-Manning caliber, he needs to transcend what he has around him. An injury riddled offensive line, receivers who routinely take a step back as soon as they take one forward, and a running game that is consistently inconsistent, Ben can't be bogged down by those around him. I don't want to hear excuses about a play call he doesn't agree with. He must step up and make everyone around him better or he will be watching the Super Bowl from home.
Dwyer is perhaps the one player on this list who's job depends on his performance through the rest of this season. He needs to play every snap like it could be his last, because it very well could be. He's been given every opportunity these past few weeks to take hold of the starting spot, and while he hasn't quite squandered his opportunity, he hasn't seized it either. Like Haley said, he can't give the coaches any reason to bench him.
Both players have battled injuries this year, but I'm kind of tired of hearing that as an excuse for them. Both played the full game yesterday, and both did nothing. The way I see it, if they're on the field they need to make plays. No excuses, no exceptions. I kept waiting through the game for one of them, well anyone really, to make a splash play. Needless to say it didn't come. If their injuries are preventing them from making plays, then they need to get off the field.
LeBeau supporters, I'm sorry, but the man is not beyond reproach. I'm as big a fan of Coach Dad as there is, and I am still astounded sometimes at what he is able to do with his players. However, in the past 2 years LeBeau has failed to correct this defense's biggest flaw: the lack of splash plays. His philosophy is that if you play technically sound, fundamental defense, the turnovers will come. I've come to the conclusion that this cannot be further from the truth. Defenses now MUST attack the ball, which is something this defense just doesn't do. Rarely have I seen defensive backs turn and look for the ball when covering downfield, and rarely have I seen players try to strip a ball that isn't completely uncovered. To see how a good defense attacks the ball, go watch how the Bears and 49ers attack the ball every time they try to make a tackle. It seems this defense is taught to attack the guy holding the ball, not the ball itself.
Now, I hope you don't see this as some random fan spewing off why the team isn't good enough or who needs to be fired. That is not what this post is about. The team has played poorly enough that their playoffs now start 2 weeks early. All I'm saying is that these are the men who can lead this team to another Super Bowl, and if they don't step up, we will not get there.