As you might imagine following a third-straight defeat—this one coming at the hands of the less-than-mighty and totally compromised 2-10-1 Bengals on Monday Night Football—the Steelers are getting it from all the barrels. That’s right, not just both barrels, every single barrel.
People want coaches to be held accountable, which is code for #fired. The fans and media are sort of blaming receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster for riling up the other teams by dancing on their logos. There’s the talk about bringing in Sam Darnold/Carson Wentz next season and cutting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his $41 million salary—forget the fact that it would leave a ton of dead cap money behind.
Lot’s of talk about next year, in fact, including the 2021 NFL Draft and which position the team should address first with its first number-one draft pick since 2019.
Next year? Why talk about next year? I’ll tell you why, the Steelers “this year” looks pretty darn horrible, right now. That team that took the field on Monday at Paul Brown Stadium was a very bad one, and I’m not sure if it’s a good team that’s just playing bad at the moment or one that is actually bad with no hope of recovery.
To be out-coached, out-schemed and out-physicaled by an opponent whose players were likely already looking ahead to the offseason was inexcusable. When that happens on national television in front of an audience made up of many people who were seriously questioning your credentials before you even lost your first game, you deserve all the slings and arrows that come your way. You deserve the irrational and illogical discussions about dancing on logos and bringing in Marcus Mariota—he’s also part of the formerly drafted quarterbacks Steeler fan wish-list.
The Steelers are going to continue to face these slings and arrows until they can pull themselves out of this current funk. Can they? It doesn’t look like it, right now.
If you're in the habit of defending the Steelers at all cost, you might point to the overall record. Don't. The 11-3 record doesn’t matter. The entire body of work is immaterial. What matters is the recent performance of this football team, and the recent performance would suggest that you should remove one of the 1’s from its record. In other words, Pittsburgh is a 1-3 football team. Averaged out over 16 games, that’s a 4-12 record and a really-high first-round draft pick, next spring. They won't get one, of course. Instead, they'll get a playoff game in a few weeks. Yay....right?
Roethlisberger is either too old, too scared, too hurried or too injured to be the quarterback the Steelers need him to be. Whether you want to place the blame on him, the offensive coordinator or the offensive line is open for discussion, but it doesn’t seem like they will find the answer over the next few days.
Maybe they will. I hope they will. I hope I’ll be able to spend that week before their first playoff game talking about all the things the Steelers will do to their opponent and not all the things their opponent will do to them.
I hope to delay all that draft talk until at least late-January. I hope to not get into any arguments with those #FireTomlin folks because they will instead be converted Tomlin supporters thanks to #SeventhHeaven.
I want this offense to be able to pull its own weight again. I want this defense to become legendary.
But I’m just not getting that vibe, right now, babe.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have left the door wide open for any criticism that will come flying their way, and there really isn’t any place for them to hide.