The past month BTSC boards have been filled with the negatives of the 2018 season since the Pittsburgh Steelers were eliminated from playoff contention. What could have been, what should have been, who is to blame and who should get the axe, has filled the boards and articles. It is time to quit moping and mourning and focus on the positive aspects of the 2018 season.
JuJu Smith-Schuster was the most electrifying offensive weapon the Steelers had in 2018. Who can forget his 97-yard touchdown reception and scamper against the Denver Broncos? The score put the Steelers up by seven and brought Steeler Nation to its collective feet waving those Terrible Towels. Smith-Schuster ended up leading the team in both receptions (111) and receiving yards. Both impressive feats considering he plays opposite of the great Antonio Brown. His reception totals are almost double his reception total from his rookie season and over 500 yards more. The budding star is only 22 and maybe the receiving focal point in 2019. The sky’s the limit for this young man from USC.
On the opposite side of the ball, there is the younger brother of J.J. Watt, T.J. Watt. While the older Watt garners the national headlines, it is the younger Watt who has Steelers fans buzzing. Watt had Steelers fans high fiving each other with his three-sack and 10 tackle performance during Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns. He had three quarterback hits and four tackles for losses. Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan felt Watt’s presence all game long. Three sacks to go along with six quarterback hits had the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback off his game all day long. For the season, Watt tallied 13 sacks, 21 quarterback hits, six forced fumbles and 68 tackles. Not too shabby for only his second year in the league. Will the national media in 2019 compare J.J. to T.J. instead of the other way around?
Alejandro Villanueva has been manning the left tackle position for the Steelers since 2015 and in 2018 he was recognized for his solid play with his second straight Pro Bowl selection. What fan in Steeler Nation was not on their feet when kicker Chris Boswell passed the ball to AV on the fake field goal in Denver for the touchdown? Villanueva manning an ageing Ben Roethlisberger’s blindside gives comfort to Steeler Nation that their franchise quarterback is in the good hands with the former Army Ranger.
For two seasons the BTSC boards have pummeled Steelers safety, Sean Davis. The Maryland product just could not acclimate to the speed and complexity of the NFL. That ended with him switching safety positions in 2018. The game slowed down for the third year player. His missed tackles were down and he seemed to be in the right place at the right time more often. While some may say his interception and five-tackle performance against the New Orleans Saints was the highlight game of the year, fans should look back at his nine-tackle performance against the Baltimore Ravens during Week 9. Davis seemed to be all over the field making one tackle after another. His presence helped limit the Ravens and their second-ranked run offense to 61 yards.
Nose tackle Javon Hargrave took a major leap forward in his third season with the Steelers. He may get overshadowed by Stephon Tuitt and Cam Heyward on the defensive line but Steelers fans took notice of his prowess getting after quarterbacks in 2018. The 25-year-old out of South Carolina State came into the season with four career sacks — he sauntered out of the season with an additional six besides eight quarterback hits. Unfortunately, an aspect of Gravedigger’s game that does not get enough attention is his ability to stop the run. Looking back at the 2018 tape focus on his run stopping ability and no doubt you will come away impressed.
While the “fire everyone” crew stews in their own juices along with the “get rid of that bum” mob, the rest of BTSC has moved on. They are focusing on what will be, not what could or should have been. There are so many positives to take out of the season and so many of those positives were because of budding superstars grabbing the limelight or others slugging it out in the trenches. Move aside Debbie Downers and the hoard who wants to lament about the 2018 season — the future is now and the future is ablaze with hope.
If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future.