It's too late in the week to devote too much additional time to last Sunday's 28-20 victory by the Pittsburgh Steelers over the Detroit Lions, but a couple last things have been on my mind from that game and I wanted to get them down before any more time passed, even if only disjointedly.
First of all, Daunte Culpepper needs to start the rest of the season for Detroit. He's healthy again - healthier than he's been in years. We saw that when he scampered for 32 yards against the Steelers defense in the 1st quarter. Pundits would like you to believe that Matthew Stafford is the future and should play now. True, he is the future. But here's the deal. The Detroit Lions are in a little bit different situation than most teams that have a young quarterback waiting in the wings and little chance at making a playoff run in the immediate future. How are they different? They're desperate for wins. Now. Not down the road. Immediately. Losing as much as they have can derail and counterfeit all the hard work that those guys up in Detroit are undeniably putting in. It's a whole lot easier to get players to buy in to a new program under Jim Schwartz if they're able to win 4 or 5 games rather than just 1-2. There's absolutely NO doubt in my mind that Culpepper gives them an exponentially greater chance at doing that.
Let's see what happens this week when the Steelers offense plays a shoddy rush defense for the second consecutive week, but following in the wake of his outstanding game plan against the Chargers, we were treated to the 'old' Bruce Arians last Sunday. Said differently, there was a somewhat disappointing resurfacing of the offensive coordinator who has a tendency to get overly pass happy, abandon the run, get too predictable in certain situations, etc. All I might say to Bruce if I were to watch the tape with him is: 'don't overthink things! The running game was going just fine, use it, then bury them with through the air when the time's right. A 2:3 rush to pass ratio when you're feature back is averaging over 5 yards per pop is hard to understand. Anyway, just because we haven't been a physical bruising team since Arians arrived doesn't mean the team should refuse to act the part when they're finally having success doing so. That brand of football may not work against the upper crust rush defenses, but the Steelers offensive line has proven they're capable of winning the battle in the trenches against lesser defenses. Cleveland would qualify. I know it's tempting to go for the homerun when you have a quarterback playing as well as Ben Roethlisberger, but Arians needs to check his ego at the door and more frequently take what's given to him during the normal ebbs and flows of individual games.
- It's funny - if you listen to the national media, you'd think the Steelers are a middle of the pack team. Peter King had nothing nice to say about them in his MMQ column:
I don't like dropping the Steelers four spots after a road win. I understand it's not fair. But the Lions drove to the Steelers 21 in the final minutes and were a big Daunte Culpepper pass from pulling a ridiculous upset. I need to see a little more from the Steelers.