For starters I apologize for ragging in advance. This isn’t doom and gloom. It is what I see from my perspective being a student of the game and the Pittsburgh Steelers since 12/23/72 the first game I remember…The Immaculate Reception game. If you are looking for sunny skies and a positive post on our beloved Steelers you are forewarned to look elsewhere.
If you missed Steeler football in the 1980s this is what it looked like. Ben Roethlisberger as "Off The Mark" Malone. Isaac Redman as Sidney "The Thundering Bull/The Fumbling Fool" Thornton. Marcus Gilbert recreating rag doll O lineman Tom Ricketts, being thrown around the field like a Raggedy Andy doll. Derrick Moye reprising Weegie Thompson. David Paulson as Wayne Capers. Jerricho "Calvin Sweeney" Cotchery. Felix Jones as Earnest Jackson. Woodley and Jarvis Jones as Merriweather & Bryan Hinkle. Consistent but without splash plays.
The Steelers simply aren’t good enough. Bill Cowher’s players have gotten old, rode off into the sunset or retired. The team of Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert have failed to replenish the talent by drafting players that either are scrap or are playing for other franchises. Tomlin also seems to have no answers and very little intensity. Oh, don’t get me wrong. He looked like he was seething on the sidelines late in the 4th quarter of an 11th loss in his last 13 games dating to last year and including preseason. But when caught on camera earlier in the evening he appeared jovial and at one point smiling while talking to a player on the sideline. I don’t think I saw Chuck Noll smile one time during the 80s. Bill Cowher would have been seething since last Tuesday after the Titan debacle. As is the case the team mirrors the coach. Cowher’s teams frothed with intensity. Tomlin’s team seems to lack discipline and desire.
I love the Steelers and will continue to watch and root for them each week this season. I hope that Tomlin has something deep down to help the inept Haley breathe life into the offense, game plan and right this ship. It just doesn’t appear so right now. We can only hope the Steelers rewind to the 80s only lasts long enough to can Haley and draft some good solid playmakers in the next draft class. They will surely be picking at the top of the heap. The last Steelers 1980 team lasted 12 years. Savor the Super Bowl’s of 2005 and 2008 because it might be awhile.
- · Watching the above average play of Center Fernando Velasco last night I couldn’t help but wonder if the Steelers wasted a #1 pick on Maurkice Pouncey. Pouncey is a solid player but how much talent did they pass on in that draft to get a Center like Pouncey? Especially when a very serviceable Center like Velasco was available off the waiver wire. And Pouncey is seemingly hurt every year and missed the most important game of his career (Super Bowl XLV) with an injury. What kind of playmaker could they have had for the offense or defense with that Pouncey pick?
- · Sticking with the Steelers draft misfortune, the Colbert/Tomlin era was on display in full force last night. Picking before the Bengals in last year’s draft, the Steelers selected Jarvis Jones and Le’Veon Bell. While Jones looks like he could be a solid player, he has about 4 tackles in 2 games. 0 sacks or splash plays. Bell was injured on the 4th carry of the preseason. The Bengals got TE Effert who caught a 61 yard pass to set up a score and the RB Bernard who scored 2 TDs…LAST NIGHT.
- · The Bengals repeatedly ran down the throats of the middle of the Steeler defense missing Larry Foote. 6th round draft pick Vince Williams seemed to struggle mightily albeit in his first game.
- · Last week the Steelers had a 2-0 lead and were driving for a score and a 9-0 lead when Redman "The Fumbling Fool" fumbles through the end zone for a touch back. This week with a 3-0 lead Paulson gains 40 yards on a splash pass play inside the red zone and fumbles away a chance at a 6-0 lead. This is so 80s.
- · After Paulson’s catch and fumble how do the Steelers not hustle to the line and snap the ball before Marv Lewis throws the challenge flag? By lollygagging and substituting players Haley and Roethlisberger allowed the Bengals to challenge and take the Steelers momentum. Inexcusable. Manning, Brees or Brady or any elite OB/Offense would have gotten a play off and kept the ball.
- · I know the rules of football are different but the Steeler defense doesn’t swarm to the ball like they used to. When a pass is tipped the defense doesn’t show a sense of urgency to catch the tip. 1 sack and 0 turnovers in 2 weeks is so 80s. We used to joke about 80s D lineman Aaron Jones who got no pressure. One day he unexpectedly pressured a QB and one of the Crew stated "he must have been still rushing from the last play!" Unfortunately, this is what the Steelers D look like.
- · I was no BA fan. His Offense had no rhyme or reason. It was a chuck it deep offense. It worked with Mike Wallace but failed to control clock and protect Ben. It tired our defense and allowed teams to claw back with late scores against a weary defense. Haley has no O line or running game. So it is difficult to have a proper game plan. That said, in the first quarter he took out Sanders and A Brown and then ran an end around to decrepit Jerricho Cotchery. Really? How about run that play to the young speedster Wheaton? And why target Cotchery 10 times? I am running out of patience with Todd Haley. He is reprising Joe Walton.
- · Gilbert had a right to complain about the phantom tripping call that negated a HUGE gain by A Brown. That said, bad players get bad calls. Gilbert claimed he was "finishing a block" in a newspaper interview. Really? Finishing a block while laying on your back after getting thrown down like a rag doll? O linemen I see finishing blocks are usually driving a defensive player to the ground and laying on top of them not spread eagle on their rear end on the turf. Here is a clue Marcus…Be a 300 LB offense lineman. Stay on your feet. Don’t get thrown to the ground and you won’t get a tripping call. If I’m Haley I play Beachum at RT and bench Gilbert before he blows out another lineman’s ACL like last year. Beachum has shown me a lot more promise.
- · The Steelers of the 80s would blow a big play with a drop pass or a penalty. Take a sack. Punt. Give up a score. 14 point swings were the usual. Sound familiar?
- · The Steelers of the 80s always were better at the end of the season than at the beginning. They would improve week to week. This team also shows improvement. They scored 10 points instead of 9 from week 1. They gave up 2 sacks instead of 5. They rushed for 44 yards instead of 32. Hopefully Tomlin keeps them improving and they win a couple games this year. I will be watching and rooting every week.
- · A lot of indigestion and sleepless nights in the 80s. Seems like it’s another 80s flashback weekend.
- · Guess I’m going to listen to my Thompson Twins, Psychedelic Furs and Billy Idol CDs this week.