Sometimes we all need a little nudge to get us headed in the right direction. The Pittsburgh Steelers coaching staff are no different. Coaches often feel more comfortable with the security of the known, rather than relying on the uncertainty of the unknown. It is easier to keep your head down and play it safe, instead of sticking your neck out and risk getting your head cut off. Problem is, nothing great is ever accomplished without accepting a certain amount of risk.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are staring such a scenario right in the face. What are they to do with Anthony Chickillo? Everyone is innocent till proven guilty, but this situation is far from optimal, for the Steelers or the NFL, and there promises to be a lengthy investigation.
This is a disturbing development for a team desperately trying to distance themselves from the drama of the past couple of seasons. The Steelers have been forced thus far this season to endure a barrage of injuries to established starters, the uneven and unpredictable performances of young newcomers, and the sting of coming up just short in a slew of close games. Thankfully off-the-field drama hasn't been part of the problem, until now.
I trust the Steelers organization to make the correct decisions moving forward concerning Chickillo and his legal issues. There are always two sides to every story, and we truthfully know very little at the moment. Best to withhold judgement until all the facts are on the table.
In the meantime, let's examine how Chick's possible absence might affect the Steelers franchise on the field. Truthfully, based on his career performance thus far, I would assume his absence would impact the Steelers very little. Actually it may just prove to be a blessing in disguise.
It is never optimal to lose a trusted backup, especially a proven special teams standout. Chickillo was dependable, and could be trusted to know his responsibilities when he was giving the starters a breather for a few snaps each game. Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler appears to trust ‘Chick’ to not make those back breaking mistakes that can change the outcome of a game. The only problem is Chickillo never seems to make any meaningful plays during his limited moments of game action. At this point of Chick's career, the Steelers are more than aware of his ceiling, and of his floor. What you have seen is all you are going to get.
Now for the good news.
The same can't be said about Olasunkanmi 'Ola' Adeniyi. The former Toledo Rockets product is currently one of the youngest defenders on the roster, even with this being his second season, after last year turned out to be a NFL 'redshirt' season. He gained invaluable experience last season playing in the preseason, where he performed well enough to make the roster, and learning from established veterans each day at practice. Ola received a crash course in the level of commitment and maturity necessary to be a professional football player. He appears to be a quick learner, seeing how he yet again was a training camp and preseason standout for the Steelers.
Ola Adeniyi oozes of untapped potential. His low center of gravity and powerful build allows him to set the edge effectively against the run, and gain leverage against taller opponents as a pass rusher. His athleticism was called into question as a draft prospect, and he is not considered a quick twitch athlete. However, he is a high energy player who seems to have a knack for winning one-on-one matchups.
Nobody truthfully knows Adeniyi's ceiling, but early returns would suggest that the sky's the limit for this diamond in the rough. You can't help but have flashbacks to a former Defensive Player of the Year, Super Bowl hero who also wore No. 92 for the Pittsburgh Steelers while watching Adeniyi perform on the field. Obviously, we are talking about James Harrison.
Funny how watching current Steelers players can bring back fond, and not so fond, memories of the past. Watching Chickillo walk around sans helmet I can't help but think, "Looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane!" I used to love the old Tarzan movies as a child. Big fan of Tarzan. Chickillo, not so much.
Watching Ola Adeniyi I can't help but recall the exploits of a man called Deebo. I believe the time has come for the Steelers to turn Ola loose on the football field, and allow Steelers Nation the opportunity to make new memories as he establishes his role on the next dominant Steelers defense.
Although Anthony Chickillo has proven to be a solid backup, Ola Adeniyi may just prove to be something special.