(Editor’s Note: Urban Dictionary defines a ‘simp’ as someone who does way too much for a person they like.)
It’s become a new thing for guys like me, average-looking Joes (even if I do have a nice jawline and interesting cheekbones), to be called simps when we agree with and/or defend beautiful women on social media.
“Hey, why do you stick up for that woman when I incessantly go into her DMs and insult her?” they’ll ask. Actually, most guys who do things like that don’t know the definition of incessantly, and they certainly don’t know how to spell it. “Why are you simping for her, bro?” is what they’ll actually say, complete with the laughing emoji and a comment about my receding hairline.
Hey, you got me, I’m a simp, but at least I’m defending pretty girls. Unfortunately for Steelers fans who like to stick up for the defense on social media, well, there hasn’t been anything pretty about it in 2022.
Why are you simping for this defense, bro?
Much like the pretty girls I simp for on Twitter, Pittsburgh’s defense has shown very little appreciation for your support this season.
Sure, it sometimes does okay in the points department, as evidenced by the 16 it allowed in a two-point loss to the Ravens at Acrisure Stadium on Sunday, but it's also had its fair share of problems situationally.
Those weightier moments, as head coach Mike Tomlin likes to call them.
Take the closing moments of Sunday’s game vs. Baltimore. Pittsburgh had just closed the gap to 16-14 on a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mitch Trubisky to tight end Pat Freiermuth with 2:30 remaining. Pittsburgh still had two timeouts and the two-minute warning and would have plenty of time to try and win the game, provided the defense came through in that weighty moment by forcing a quick three-and-out on a Ravens offense that was down to its third-string quarterback and had no intentions of passing.
Unfortunately, the Ravens picked up the game-clinching first down with little resistance from a defense that was supposed to carry the load in 2022.
If the defense’s performance in that weighty moment looked familiar to you, it was because it was similar to how it responded over the final six minutes of a game against the Patriots in Week 2. Pittsburgh trailed by three points, and the defense needed to get the ball back for the offense one final time.
The Steelers never got the ball back; instead, New England’s offensive line imposed its will on Pittsburgh’s front seven until it had enough first downs to secure a win.
It may have been fashionable to defend the defense back then because of the absence of T.J. Watt, who had just been placed on IR with a pectoral injury. However, Watt has now been back for a month, and this Steelers defense, the highest-paid in the entire NFL, still looks blah, average, okay, etc.
Sacks are down. Takeaways are below the line.
The defense is ranked 22nd in yards allowed—including 24th against the pass. After doing such a bang-up job against the run for most of the year—something it tragically struggled with in 2021—the rush defense has regressed to the 15th-best in the NFL. That’s what happens when you allow one-dimensional teams to gash you on the ground in back-to-back games. That’s right, after allowing the one-dimensional Falcons to rush for 146 yards a week earlier, Pittsburgh’s defense gave up 215 rushing yards on Sunday to a Baltimore offense that, again, was very limited in the passing department.
Trubisky, who played most of the game in place of a concussed Kenny Pickett, has taken the brunt of the blame for Sunday’s loss; this is the result of his failures in a few weighty moments, mainly three interceptions that occurred right when Pittsburgh looked primed to score points and take control of the game.
That’s understandable and goes with the territory when it comes to being a quarterback in the NFL. They usually get paid a lot of money and will hear about it if they don’t come through when it matters. A quarterback can post 400 passing yards and four touchdowns, but if he throws a critical interception that loses the game, that’s all people will focus on.
Why can’t it be that way for this Steelers' defense, especially one that is highly compensated and was expected to be much more dominant in 2022?
Why is it that we just look at the big picture when it comes to the defense’s performance in a game—“If you only give up 16 points, you’ve done enough to win!”—but people still can’t let go of Todd Haley’s decision to run Le’Veon Bell wide on a fourth-and-one play (twice, if memory serves) in that divisional-round loss to the Jaguars after the 2017 regular season? (BTW, the Steelers scored 42 points in that game, which should be enough to win, right?)
The Steelers' offense has been a mess in 2022, and it would be foolish to say otherwise.
But it’s also foolish to continue to simp for a Steelers defense that’s been a huge disappointment this year.
Please stop doing that, bro. This Steelers defense is pathetic, and it hasn’t done anything for you. (Insert a laughing emoji and comment about your receding hairline here.)