You know how I know the Steelers (1-1) are in a different era, an era that probably won't include a Super Bowl trophy this season or maybe even for the next several? It's because of the familiar phrases and headlines I've been hearing and reading the past 10 days or so since they were systematically dismantled on Thursday Night Football by Baltimore in Week 2.
These phrases, while not the cause of Pittsburgh's troubles, are clearly symptoms of a once-dominant juggernaut that's searching for answers and a way to turn back time.
Join me as I unveil the Top-6 quotes you hear or read when the Pittsburgh Steelers are struggling:
"For the Steelers, it's no time to panic"
Is this not a time to panic about the plight of the Steelers? In terms of the standings, you'd say, "heck no!" They do have a 1-1 record after two weeks and, when it comes to that, they're no different than 16 other NFL franchises right now.
But if someone is saying it's not time to panic, like our very own John Phillips in this piece which is filled with optimism and hope--and quite frankly, has me excited for Pittsburgh's Week 3 tilt against the Panthers on Sunday Night Football--there's probably a good chance that panicking might be something to think about.
If this was 2008, and Hines Ward was telling Bob Pompeani that it's not time to panic as they co-hosted his old TV show that used to air at 11:35 p.m., Saturday evenings on KDKA, I would feel more relieved. If this was 2010, and James Harrison and James Farrior were telling fans not to panic as they played each other in a game of ping-pong on a Thursday afternoon after practice, I'd feel much better about things.
But this isn't 2008 or 2010. Ward is now triathlete or something and, last I checked, most of the Steelers aren't allowed to play ping-pong anymore because none of them are James Harrison or James Farrior.
"The Steelers just have to get back to basics"
The Steelers are stressing the basics (or fundamentals) this week, according to our very own Dale Grdnic in this story from Monday.
In the article, Brett Keisel, the very popular and outspoken veteran defensive end, said, among many other things, the Steelers need to tackle better and start doing the "little things" once again. Ah yes, when you start to read quotes like "back to basics," "fundamentals," and/or "the little things," you know your team might be in a bit of trouble, and the defense might be getting gashed on the ground and through the air.
Should the Steelers get back to basics and stress fundamentals on things such as tackling? My guess is they already are. The defensive coaching staff comprises a Hall of Famer in Dick LeBeau; Keith Butler, a linebacker coach who has worked with Harrison, Farrior, Larry Foote, LaMarr Woodley, etc. and, oh yes, Joey Porter and Carnell Lake, two former players who combined for 1201 tackles during their remarkable careers.
Safe to say, tackling has probably been stressed a time or two since late July.
My guess is that guys like Joe Thomas and Alex Mack, two Pro Bowl offensive linemen the Steelers have faced already, probably have something to do with why the defense has yielded 170 rushing yards per game through two weeks.
"The Steelers need balance on offense"
This is a phrase often uttered by Steelers fans when the offense is really struggling, like it has during the last six quarters, compiling only three field goals and zero touchdowns. But don't be fooled by this whole balance theory (at least when it's voiced by my fellow Steelers fans), because it's generally code for "Get back to smash mouth football and run it down their freakin throats for 42 minutes!"
If you do want a return to "balance," perhaps you felt vindicated when Le'Veon Bell, the Steelers' second-year running back, told the Post Gazette on Thursday the offense needed exactly that. Yeah right. Again, don't be fooled. A running back saying his offense needs to establish the run is like me saying I deserve a raise and a company car.
Mr. Bell may be a bit biased.
"I put this loss on the coaches for not having these guys ready to play"
Stuff like this is never said by a player; that would be career suicide, but the fans sure love to say it all the time. Obviously, a loss rarely has anything to do with the talent-level of a team and everything to do with heart, desire, motivation and, of course, coaching.
Back when Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin had Casey Hampton dominating opposing centers and 27-year-old Troy Polamalu causing sleepless nights for opposing quarterbacks, he was a great motivator. Now that Steve McLendon (a 2009 UDFA) is failing to maneuver past Pro Bowl centers like the one in Cleveland and Polamalu is approaching his mid-30s, Tomlin has become a very poor motivator and communicator.
Maybe Coach Peezy can lead one of those "Who ride? We ride!" pre-game chants.
"They just need to get back to playing Pittsburgh Steelers football"
I don't even know what that is, but I do know that anytime I hear it or read it, it's probably not a good thing for the home team. How do we know they haven't already been playing "Pittsburgh Steelers football" for the past three years?
I'm starting to panic a little. Hopefully, Tomlin has done a better job of preparing his team for the Panthers this week than he did prior to Weeks 1 and 2. And that all starts with playing Pittsburgh Steelers football, which I believe has to do with running the ball more and tackling better.
No, it's not time to panic. It's time to win another Lombardi Trophy. After all.................................................
"I truly believe the Steelers have as much talent as any team in the NFL"