It might be crazy, but I vowed last week that I wouldn't give up on playoff hopes for this year until the Steelers had 8 losses, if we reach that point. The AFC North is probably the second worst division in football right now after the NFC Least. I think a team could easily win the division at 9-7, and even more importantly, we're only 2 games back. If each of our rivals, or even just some of them, lose their game this week, we can begin to catch up by beating the Jets.
I've said for 2 weeks now that I thought we'd come out of the Bye week strong. The team needs to get their heads right and hopefully there will be enough work and motivational speeches this week to get them where they need to be. Bell and Heath will get healthier and will be able to improve, along with David Johnson who has been steadily improving. Also, hopefully Cortez gets back to 100% because he screwed up on a number of plays where he could have prevented points or a 1st down.
Hopefully if Bell starts to break off some big runs other teams will be forced to respect the run and take a little pressure off our O-line, not that Adams could handle that anyways. If Foster comes back healthy then maybe Beachum can take over for Adams until he gets right. There were a number of plays where he just kept shuffling after Jared Allen had gotten by him and he didn't even try to push Allen past Ben. A block in the back would be way better than Ben getting creamed over and over.
I think the biggest issue facing our team right now is our swagger. It might sound silly, but no one respects the Steelers anymore. Yes, we're sitting at 0-4, but our defense used to be feared for their ferocity and now they look tame. Our offense was known for smashing tacklers, Colon sometimes moreso than is recommended (See the beatdown on Burfict last year), and some of the blocks this year have been horrid. WR blocks have been majorly lacking on numerous plays. Bell trucked one defender on sunday, but Jones and Dwyer hadn't been putting any fear into the defense.
We have to come out of the Bye with a winning mentality. It doesn't matter that we're 0-4, the season starts now. Every game is ours and every stadium is our stadium. You might be the home team, but we're going to embarrass you and make this our house. That's the kind of thought process we had a couple years back. Even if you have to fake it til you make it, I think the Steelers have to start projecting that image. Get that swagger back, then back it up. Prove to everyone that we're a contender that can overcome losing a leader on offense and a leader on defense. Show everyone that we still play Steelers' football. We might not run it all the time right down your throats, but we will beat you up on offense and defense until you want to quit.
Only one team has started 0-4 and made the playoffs in the last 20 years. I say the Steelers have the talent to be the second, they just have to live up to their potential.