Truthful Tuesday is a meme on Tumblr where on Tuesdays people share some of their most private thoughts/fears/details of their life with 400 relatively random strangers on the internet, instead of their closest friends and families. Don't worry, this won't be that. I will only be sharing below some Steeler/NFL related thoughts that have been rolling around in my head. I just thought the title was catchy. And yes, I know it's not Tuesday.
AFC North and wild card teams
Every division plays 40 games against teams not in their division. Last year the AFC North won 26.5 (1 tie) games, more than any other division. The NFC West, you know the division that sent the Seahawks to the Super Bowl, only won 25 of those games. And four of the other divisions won a measly 20-23 games last year.
By contrast, the AFC South, whom the AFC North played last year, won only 13 games of their 40 non-division games. The Colts and Texans accounted for 10 of those games with the other 2 teams winning a total of 5 games. The NFC South, whom the AFC North also played, won a mere 10.5 of those 40 games. Wow. Just wow. In other words, the Steelers played divisions that were not good in 2014. At all.
Partly because of the strength of the teams in our division and partly because of the easy schedule, the AFC North last year sent three teams to the playoffs utilizing both the AFC's wild-card spots. Even the Cleveland Browns, the perennial Ringo Stars of the division, were in playoff contention up until the last few weeks of the season! In fact, the AFC North has claimed 6 of the 8 available AFC wild card spots in the last 4 seasons.
Due to strength of schedule, there may be no wild card teams from the AFC North this year. I believe the Steelers will need to win the division to ensure they make it to the playoffs in 2015.
Speaking of Shawn Lemon...
Almost nobody is talking about Shawn Lemon though it was nice to see a Jeff Hartman article about him. When listing Steeler OLBs, his name is often left off of the list as if he became invisible. Some minimize his accomplishments because he played in the CFL. While CFL players may not be as good as NFL players, they are still a giant leap above college players. There is less variance in abilities between CFL players than college players and they have proven they have the drive and dedication required to play professional football.
It looks like Lemon is quick off of the snap and has some good moves. He could be the best pass rusher on the team come September. Dupree's ceiling may be higher but I believe Lemon's floor is higher than Dupree's right now and probably will be Week 1. I hope Lemon does well and makes the team. I have a feeling if he is put on the practice squad, another team will immediately claim him.
A plethora of OLBs
Back in January who knew that come July there would be so many viable OLBs on the squad? I'm guessing that Keith Butler did, but out here in fandom we were scared. Now there's enough that not all of them will make the team, though I think they will keep an extra one around just to be prepared in case this is James Harrison's last year playing. Not that anyone is suggesting to Harrison's face that this is his last year, but the Steelers' personnel folk are paid to be prepared for the future.
With all of those OLBs I'd like to see some sub-packages this fall on passing downs that have 3 OLBs on the field at the same time. That would be fun, wouldn't it? You wouldn't have to have all 3 rush the passer, maybe drop 1 or 2 into coverage and blitz an ILB or safety. Or sometimes send all 3 in. If this "wrinkle" worked at times, the additional week day game-planning it would create for opposing offenses would be worth it just for that.
You probably wouldn't want to use it against some teams/quarterbacks, but it could create additional pressures/hurries on QBs. And with those additional hurries it appears it would be advantageous to have some "ball hawk" corners and safeties on the field too. Hmmm....
Drive-by swipe at Cleveland for no particular reason other than it's fun
I'm old so I remember the Steelers-Browns rivalry well. Even during the 70s the Browns weren't very good but they always played the Steelers as if it were their Super Bowl. As a result they had to be taken seriously. Maybe someday soon they will get better than terrible. I may not like Browns fans and I do enjoy taking the occasional jab about them because, Cleveland, but I do respect them. They are true football fans and did not deserve to have their team ripped away from them. They also deserve a better group of folk making personnel decisions. That said, Johnny Football. BWAHAHAHA! *wipes tears of laughter from eyes*
Steelers Urban Legend
The general consensus is that often after the Steelers play a tough opponent well, they then lose to an easy opponent the following week. I don't know if this is cherry-picking of anecdotal evidence or not. (Hint, hint: Somebody who is not me please examine the last few years and write a post about it.) But I suspect it is true. If so then I believe the fault for that lies squarely on Tomlin's shoulders.
Coaches are always reporting on what players need to do to improve their game. If this Steelers urban legend is indeed true, then I say to Coach Tomlin: "Step up your game on this. Make sure your players never take a week off mentally. After all, there are only 16 guaranteed weeks per year. Make a plan to eliminate this issue and then execute it. Thank you."
Well that's most of my thoughts for now. Any opinions/comments/criticisms you have are most welcome and I hope you all do your own versions of "Truthful Tuesday."