Many of us, myself included, were guilty of bashing fans who posted that the Steelers were doomed to fail this year.
They were criticized for being critical of the lack of turnovers. They were right.
They were complained about for complaining about the underachieving offense. They were right.
They were questioned for questioning the lack of leadership and drive of the team in general. They were right.
Unfortunately, the time has come for me to make amends for directing my anguish and criticism toward the individuals posting their opinions, rather than placing it where it belonged: squarely on the shoulders of the players responsible for inspiring those posts in the first place.
Throughout the year, I always found a reason to believe that the Steelers would still be playing football in February. I wouldn't even entertain the blasphemy that we would miss out on January as well. Here's a look back at some of my personal shortcomings in judging the potential of certain individuals, and therefore the team, to succeed, whether it was through downplaying the severity of a shortcoming, underestimating that shortcoming's impact on the team, or overestimating the rest of the team's ability to succeed. Most of these misperceptions resulted in an attitude that I and others displayed when others correctly identified them and called players out.
Without further delay, here are some of my Forgettable Football Fallacies for 2012:
Ben Roethlisberger is good enough to carry the team, no matter what
Whoops. I understand that he was hurt. I get that. I also understand that the offensive line was, at best, inconsistent once the injury monster bit Willy Colon for the third straight year. However, neither of those things came into play when Ben was errantly firing passes late in games that cost us at least a chance of winning. I'm specifically looking at week 1, week 15, and week 16. Doubters that called out Ben for making poor decisions at critical moments were right. I still think that he's an excellent quarterback, but he needs to realize that maybe, just maybe, he was very lucky at the end of Super Bowl 43 and that he doesn't always have the talent to force the ball in crucial situations.
Our stable of running backs is a strength of the team, even with the occasional bad game
After week 3's Eagles game, I was convinced that Mendenhall would be getting a big, juicy contract this year. The biggest problem I saw was of an embarrassment of riches. How would we manage to get all of the studs in our backfield enough touches to take full advantage of each of their strengths? What is the optimal running back mix to ensure that we're getting the maximum horsepower out of our stable? As the year dragged on and people complained about the backfield, they were proven right as the offensive philosophy switched from optimizing their strengths to mitigating their weaknesses.
The Young Money trio is the best group of receivers in the league
Sure, Mike Wallace held out, but don't his numbers justify a bigger contract? Yeah, we paid AB a lot of money in that new contract, but he earned it, right? And Manny is going to have a huge year after being hurt most of last season. Anyone who doesn't agree is just looking to stir the pot. The receivers will be fine.
Huge drops in critical moments, bigger fumbles in bigger moments. Counterfeit money? You bet.
The #1 ranked defense in the NFL doesn't need turnovers to be dominant
This might be my biggest mistake of the year. The YPG allowed stat is a lot like GDP and unemployment numbers; It's a made up statistic that has no bearing on reality. Sure, the fancy statistics might make you feel better, but it just doesn't pass the smell test when you're giving up big third down plays, failing to generate pressure at crucial moments, and not getting turnovers when you need them. A few certain games excepted, this is something that needs to be fixed. Maybe they can start working out with Cortez. That's my only suggestion.
We don't have a leadership problem, especially not with Tomlin
Hines Ward didn't lead the team in receptions. James Farrior didn't lead the team in tackles. What became apparent, however, is that both led their sides of the ball in leadership. At this point, I really don't care if Ben hates Todd Haley. I don't care if Ben loves Todd Haley. You don't say another word to the media about it, period. Insubordination is unacceptable. Criticizing a coach or his play calling to make yourself look like you're a big enough man to say it, or that you're too important to get in trouble for it doesn't make you look like an alpha male or a leader, it is an unnecessary distraction and it makes you look like a douche. Mendenhall - you're the longest tenured back on the team. Show up for work. Tomlin - I'm not suggesting that we replace him or anything insane like that. I think he's a top 5 coach of the league, even to go .500 with the kind of injuries we had this year. That being said, you need to get your players mindset right. Whatever juice he served up for the second Ravens game needs to be bottled and stored. If next year's team motto isn't "tough team" then something went wrong.
Again, my apologies for tinting my glasses a shade too dark of black and gold this year and calling others out for not drinking the kool aid. Please feel free to let me know where I went wrong in the comments. God knows I haven't been shy about it for others.