Welcome to the latest edition of the Steelers Stock Report of the 2020 NFL season: Cincinnati Bengals edition. I have been granted the distinguished opportunity to attempt to determine which direction individual players, or units, are trending after each weekly matchup, to the best of my ability. I will attempt to make each determination without the use of my Black-and-Gold glasses, but admittedly I can make no promises.
Let’s get started...
Steelers stock trending up: T.J. Watt
TJ Watt is having an outstanding 2020 NFL season, one worthy of DPOY consideration. He was named to the Pro Bowl for the third consecutive season on Monday, and will almost assuredly be selected first team All Pro for the second year in a row. He is the best edge defender in the league must be accounted for on every play by the opposition.
Although the Steelers suffered their most embarrassing and devastating loss in the Roethlisberger era against the Cincinnati Bengals in primetime on Monday Night Football, TJ Watt was hardly to blame. On the night he was credited with 4 tackles, with 3 of those of the for loss variety, and he added yet another QB sack to his league leading total. He now has 13 sacks on the season, and his 22 tackles for loss also sets the pace for the NFL by a large margin. He is a true superstar player in the prime of his career, and he is going to cash in on his mind boggling production in the near future.
That kind of talent draws plenty of attention, and Watt has found himself increasingly becoming the main focus of every opponents game plans. That means plenty of chip blocks, double teams, and misdirection plays. Anything to exploit his natural aggressiveness and limit his impact on the game. He has definitely earned the distinction and the recognition. His distinguished teammates have to take full advantage of all the extra attention being paid to him and make their opponents pay the price for the favorable matchups if the Steelers defense is to remain elite moving forward.
Steelers stock trending down: Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger is the most important player on the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the unquestionable face of the franchise. He is the central figure that drives the Steelers offensive success, and the unit was lost last season without him. No matter how talented the individual player may be, everybody needs more than a little help from their friends. In the Steelers previous two losses; their first such outcomes the season, Ben's teammates were unable to uphold their end of the bargain. Sadly to say; during Monday night's devastating loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, a team that the Steelers have for all intents and purposes owned during Ben's illustrious career, Roethlisberger failed to live up to the standards he has set for himself.
This has to be considered the worst performance of his career by a wide margin. Some may suggest that the 5 interception game in 2017 against the Jacksonville Jaguars should be taken into consideration, but it's not even close in my opinion. That Jaguars team was a playoff participant who possessed the best defense in the NFL that year. No matter how you try to sling it, this year's Bengals team is presently one of the worst teams in the NFL and have been relatively uncompetitive since their number one overall selection QB Joe Burrow was lost for the season due to a knee injury. That really didn't change on Monday Night, as the Bengals really didn't win the game as much as the Steelers went out of their way to lose the game. The outcome falls squarely at the feet of Ben Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger is the captain of the ship and where he leads the team will follow. That's why established quarterbacks are the highest paid players in the NFL, especially franchise QBs who have won Super Bowls. They willingly accept blame for any offensive shortcomings even if it is unwarranted, as Ben has often done in his HOF worthy career. After his subpar performance against the Bengals, Ben was finally able to assume responsibility honestly.
Roethlisberger has displayed impressive improvement as a leader over the years after a rocky start to his career, regularly choosing his words and actions carefully. After WR Diontae Johnson was relegated to the bench after two early drops in the first half of the loss to the Buffalo Bills, Ben reached out to his talented young pass catcher. He asked Johnson if he still wanted to play the game. Short, simple, and straight to the point. Based on Johnson's performance on Monday night, zero drops and a few tough catches, the direct approach apparently worked wonders. Now he needs to ask himself the same question.
When the rewards are no longer worth the risks, when the task required is all work and no play, and the passionate desire to compete has diminished significantly: it's time to take stock of one's priorities. When the joy is gone, it's time to walk away. No player can be successful in the rigorous demands of the NFL landscape without being fully committed.
Roethlisberger seems to be suffering from some sort of lower body discomfort since around the midway point of the season, starting when he was knocked from the game temporarily against the Dallas Cowboys with damage to both knees.
Although he hasn't missed any game time since then and he adamantly denies any issues with his knees, his performances have steadily declined as his throwing motion and fundamentals apparently have been affected. I plan on writing an article about some not so subtle changes to his throwing motion since that game, but that will be a discussion for a later date. Whatever the truth maybe, Ben needs to take a look in the mirror and ask himself some tough questions. Just keeping it real, because the Steelers future depends on the answers.
Steelers stock currently heartbroken: The Steelers Nation family
When I first seen a Facebook post from the Auburn Athletic Department stating that Steelers legend Kevin Greene had passed away at just 58 years of age, I was stunned to say the least. Then I read multiple comments calling the report fake news and I was temporarily relieved. Sadly, the report turned out to be true and further confirmation started popping up all over social media. To be totally honest, I was not my normal enthusiastic self during what turned out to be an all around sucky day. The unfathomable loss to the pitiful Cincinnati Bengals franchise didn't really seem to register in my mind, or matter all that much in the big scheme of things.
Kevin Greene was a Hall of Fame player, and person. He teamed with All Pro teammate Greg Lloyd to form the greatest edge tandem in Steelers history. Yes I said the greatest, even better than James Harrison/Lamar Woodley and TJ Watt/Bud Dupree. The only compliant from myself and the rest of Steelers Nation it was over far too soon. Now the same statement could be made about his influential life.
Based on countless testimonials of personal encounters, Greene was a true gentleman who never seemed to meet a stranger. A man's man, he never let stardom go to his head but instead remained true to his value system and upbringing. Gone far too soon, my thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. He will forever be a beloved Steelers legend.