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After Week 4, the Steelers aren’t ‘fixed’, they just beat a bad Bengals team

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BTSC writers Tony Defeo and Bryan Anthony Davis offer differing opinions on whether or not the Steelers win over the Bengals was a turning point for the good or a win against an awful team.

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Steelers are no longer winless after defeating an equally embattled team in the form of the Cincinnati Bengals. Some fans are saying that the hard times are now behind the Steelers, well others are treating the win as a bandaid on a shark bite. BTSC’s resident heels, The Steelers Hangover’s Tony Defeo and Bryan Anthony Davis, have differing viewpoints on this particular subject. Read them as they slug it out in text below.


The Steelers aren’t fixed, they just beat a bad Cincy team.

Bryan Anthony Davis’ Point

Let me start out with this. I loved the fact that the Steelers made mentions of “The Jungle” back home in the Queen City seem ghostly-pale in comparison to “The Blast Furnace” on Monday Night Football. Who Dey? Well, the answer is instead of “Big Bad Bengals”, the Steelers reduced them to a decrepit Tony The Tiger drowning in a soggy bowl of Frosted Flakes. Sure it was awesome to get the September monkey of of their black-and-gold backs, but I still wonder if they can sustain it.

The bigger question is...Just how good was the competition from Ohio. Answer: the opponents were pretty atrocious. I’m not saying that the victory was any less satisfying, cause it wasn’t. I just worry that the Ravens and Chargers (up next) are going to be competition stiffer than a Paul Brown Stadium pretzel. Sure the Steelers defense looked dominant with eight sacks from six different players, but I’ve seen brothels that were harder to get into than the Cincinnati backfield. The line was so patchwork, that a hobo would feel more superior about his wardrobe. As for the offense, it was a satisfying watch from my couch. I was pleased with the innovation presented by Randy Fichtner, but the gimmickry just can’t be relied upon week-after-week in the National League. It’s like when my ex-wife came home smelling of Aqua Velva and flop sweat...I eventually figured it out. The Baltimore Ravens and every other team will surely prepare themselves for this new wrinkle in the offense and find a way to negate it.

There were some good things to rave about like the accuracy of Mason Rudolph, the innovation of the Wildcat offense, the emergence of Diontae Johnson and the reintroduction to Pittsburgh lexicon of the coverage sack thanks to Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Joe Haden, Mike Hilton and Steven Nelson shutting down Andy Dalton’s receiving targets. But there’s still a rub to each rave. There’s always a rub.

I’m wondering how much Mike Tomlin, Fichtner and Coach Ben Roethlisberger trust Mason Rudolph. He has had success airing the ball out in a limited Steeler sample size. He was fourth in the nation his final year of college completing the long ball in a fashion similar to the 2018 No. 1 overall, Baker Mayfield. Would it be a bad thing to let Mason air it out to keep defenses honest? I don’t think it would. I’m not suggesting to give up, but fan can not live on dink-and-dunk...just like you wouldn’t let your children live solely on Dunkin’ Donuts.

The Diontae Johnson experience is nice, but JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington desperately need to get open for long gains. JuJu is allegedly the WR1, we need proof of it. As for James Washington, we need proof of life. He and Rudolph thrived together at Oklahoma State and should continue to do so as Steel Cowboys. Please tell me this isn’t a “Weekend At Bernie’s” situation.

Speaking of proof of life, the offensive line is somewhat less offensive. But I’m still not nominating them to protect Trump. But then again...Hahahahaha. Relax. You know I’m not one to get political. It’s a joke. But seriously, before the WC was unveiled...the running game and line looked like the usual suspect and Im not talking Kevin Spacey, Benicio del Toro and one of the million Baldwin bros. They really didn’t look overly impressive in a normal offensive set.

As for the defense, I’m cautiously optimistic that they’ve turned a corner. But I’ve seen this particular movie before and subsequently bought the t-shirt...only to get saddled with Dumb and Dumber Too (When Harry Met Lloyd). But I was impressed thoroughly with what I saw on MNF, but I can’t help worrying about the bottom falling out once again. But I’m trying.

Look, I desperately want to believe that this is a sea change and not just a blip on the radar. And I think I’ve conducted myself on this blog site over the past five years with the high-level of optimism of a high school sophomore with a oval-shaped indentation in his wallet on Prom Night. In fact, I’ve been accused of being way too much of a homer. However, I still can’t stop thinking that Cincy is a dumpster fire in Hell in Indian Summer. If they penetrate the O-line of the Baltimore Ravens and put up pinball-type points...I’ll be more convinced and ready to rave.


Tony Defeo’s Counterpoint

Bryan Anthony Davis, I can’t believe we share the same podcast (The Steelers Hangover, which can be seen and heard live on YouTube the day after every Steelers game). I think after reading your little rant, I’m going to petition Lance Williams and ask to be the co-host on his podcast. We can change the name to, “Yeah, I said it.” “Yeah, well, I’m offended.”

You guys, meaning the media, are always trying to stir the pot. You’re always trying to start stuff. I’m guessing you were one of those people that had the Bengals game circled on your calendar as your typical Tomlin loss to a bad team, and you had your red pen ready to give him a grade of F (as in, “You’re Fired!”) when you turned in your grades article Tuesday morning.

But now that the Steelers, in atypical fashion, demolished a bad team on national television, you’re saying you weren’t impressed? You’re still waiting for the other shoe (or shoes) to drop?

What was not to like about that game? A dominant performance on defense by a unit that finally figured out how to go for the jugular? A very efficient performance by an offense manned by a second-year quarterback, two young running backs and a receiving corps still trying to figure things out?

For what it’s worth, this is a very new football team, right now. This is a new world. And what you saw on Monday Night Football may have actually been the equivalent of the mysterious Roy Hobbs knocking the cover off the ball in the movie, The Natural.

You guys, you’re always knocking new things.

Let’s talk about the Steelers new wonder boy. I’m referring, of course, to young quarterback Mason Rudolph. For all of his obvious inexperience and the fact that the team is clearly trying to mask that by devising game plans to protect him—using plenty of short passes in his two starts, employing Jaylen Samuels as the quarterback in the wildcat formation this past Monday night, etc.—he’s still managed to throw six touchdowns to just two interceptions in his 10 quarters as Pittsburgh’s primary passer.

That’s not a horrible start to one’s NFL career.

You mentioned the wildcat formation and that it’s quite gimmicky. Yes, yes, it is. But, right now, it’s quite necessary. Aren’t we always complaining about schemes, and that the Steelers don’t design ones to fit their personnel? Monday night was a perfect example of them utilizing a strategy that played to the strengths of their running backs. It helped shorten the game. It took the onus off of the shoulders of Rudolph.

More than anything, however, the wildcat was just another way for the Steelers to flow their offense through their running backs. Along with Samuels, James Conner, with 125 total yards and a touchdown, played a huge role in Monday’s victory. As we’ve mentioned many times over the past two-plus years, when the the Steelers make their running backs the focal point of their offense, their offense thrives.

The Steelers offense thrived on Monday, and wildcat or not, if they make their running backs the main cogs moving forward, they will probably be okay.

Will Rudolph?

He’s already evolved so much over his 10 quarters. No, this isn’t enough for you, Bryan, and so many others from the microwave generation, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

As for the receivers, there’s certainly cause for concern, but there are also flashes of brilliance, namely the 76-yard catch-and-run touchdown by JuJu Smith-Schuster two weeks ago. How about the two long touchdowns by rookie Diontae Johnson, and the fact that a cute little bromance connection between him and Rudolph may be blossoming before our very eyes?

You also mentioned the defense and all of the pressure and mayhem it unleashed on Andy Dalton’s person. Hasn’t that come to be expected, this pressure? If it’s one thing the Steelers defense knows how to do, it’s get after the quarterback. So when it comes to that, Monday night was hardly an aberration. The only question is can the defense continue to close out games?

I believe it can get better at that. You’ve seen it display little flashes of brilliance this season, even before Monday night. You’ve seen it terrorize Russell Wilson in Week 2. You’ve seen it totally shut down the 49ers for a half in Week 3. It just needs to get better at doing those things for four quarters.

But this defense is young and talented, just like most of the team as a whole.

The Steelers came close to victory in Week 2. They suffered another frustrating loss a week later.

This tells me that we’re seeing a young team and brand new football team that’s on the rise and on the cusp of making some serious noise.

When I was driving to my uncle’s house to watch the game on Monday, a song by the legendary band, Styx, came on my car radio, and I knew it would be a good night. You know which song I’m talking about? That’s right, Mr. Roboto.

Mr. Roboto was a smash hit from the 1983 album, Kilroy Was Here. It was a concept album and signified a musical shift for the band. It may not have been old Styx, but it was effective at the time.

The Steelers are a new team, and they’re finding new ways to win. It might not seem familiar, but if it’s effective for now, the Steelers can and will have a great 2019.


Bryan Anthony Davis Counter-Counterpoint

Tony, you are a lot like the Bengals. I’ve beaten you in the poll three straight weeks and you may go 0-4 this week after this nonsense. Oh by the way, another top hit from the great Styx concept album that you mentioned was “Don’t Let It End”. I’m going to hope for that when it comes to the Steelers reawakening that you predicted here. But that No. 8 smash also is the antithesis of how I feel about your rant...just let it end. As for me, another song from that very album is “Just Get Me Through This Night”. If you go back and read my part of this piece...I just want to get past Baltimore before I relax.


Poll

Do you agree more with Tony Defeo or Bryan Anthony Davis on whether or not the Steelers are fixed, they just beat a bad Cincy team.

This poll is closed.

  • 53%
    I agree with BAD...It’s way too early to call the Steelers fixed.
    (240 votes)
  • 46%
    TonDef is right here. The Steelers have turned the corner.
    (212 votes)
452 votes total Vote Now