What more can be said about the 2015 Pittsburgh Steelers? They entered the season facing the prospects of the NFL's toughest schedule on paper, two very key suspensions, an injured Pro Bowl center, an injured placekicker and what many feared would be one of the worst defenses in the league.
Not only have the Steelers (4-2) been in every match-up this season, they've won games with three different quarterbacks and a kicker off the streets that has contributed significantly in two of them.
As for that horrible defense, it has performed way above the line for what was expected of it. In-fact, both Sean Spence and Vince Williams have played so well at inside linebacker in-place of an injured Ryan Shazier, who has missed the past four games with a shoulder ailment, it's easy to forget that the 2014 first round pick might actually be the team's most explosive defensive player.
What about that secondary? It has held its own, despite injuries and a lack of high-end talent. Speaking of injuries, can Will Allen play this week with his injured ankle? Or will Robert Golden get his second start at safety in-place of Allen, who was inserted into the lineup earlier in the year in-place of a struggling Shamarko Thomas, who came into the season as the heir apparent to the legendary Troy Polamalu?
Also, thanks to the season-ending ACL tear suffered by left tackle Kelvin Beachum, the 2012 seventh round pick and inexplicable success story, the Steelers are now down 40 percent of their original offensive line (Maurkice Pouncey may miss the rest of the year thanks to an infection in his broken ankle that has already forced him to miss the first six games). Pittsburgh will now have to rely on Alejandro Villanueva, a decorated war hero who served multiple tours in Afghanistan and started his NFL career as a tight end, to fill Beachum's spot and play perhaps the most important position along the offensive line the rest of the way. Villanueva's story is already so good, I'm surprised he doesn't have Hollywood producers filling up his voicemail, but just wait and see what happens if he does go ahead and fill that void--he might have to change his number or hire an agent (the movie kind).
Then, of course, there's Chris Boswell, the kicker from nowhere, who has not only made all five of kicks since signing with the Steelers two weeks (the only ones he's attempted in the NFL, by the way), four of them have been from 47-plus yards away.
Did I mention the Steelers have gone through three quarterbacks already?
Yes, that's really what I wanted to talk about. Of all the inexplicable stories to the first six weeks of the Steelers 2015 season, how about the two-quarter chapter Landry Jones penned at Heinz Field on Sunday, when he entered the game against the Cardinals with 10:21 left in the third quarter and proceeded to lead the offense to 19 points and a 25-13 victory?
One minute you're a third-string quarterback standing on the sidelines of Heinz Field, a player very few believed in; about an hour later, after passing for 168 yards and two touchdowns, you're a football hero. In-fact, your performance is so good, not only does it seem ludicrous to not start you in-place of an injured and very ineffective Mike Vick against the Chiefs the following week; the confidence in you is now so high, resting Ben Roethlisberger and his healing left MCL for seven more days while you do your thing seems quite logical.
I'll be perfectly honest, I didn't believe in Jones at all. I thought he was a wasted fourth round pick in 2013 and that the Steelers should have used their drafting resources on more urgent needs. But I'm firmly on-board the Jones bandwagon right now, and I want to see what he can do with a whole week of preparation and first team reps under his belt.
Jones' moment in the sun on Sunday--his emergence from afterthought at 1 p.m. to the top story and a seat in front of reporters at about 4:30 p.m.--is why sports is the best reality TV there is.
There are a lot of conspiracy theorists out there who insist that games are fixed and outcomes are predetermined. It is true that, like any other television show, the top stars usually make the plays and become the heroes (or goats, in some cases). But every once and a while, a story will emerge that leaves you reeling and totally changes your outlook on a player, his abilities and, yes, even his star potential.
Speaking of reeling, how about Jones' disposition when he sat there on Sunday at the post-game press conference and answered those questions from those reporters?
"I still can't believe I got in the game and to play. I'm still kind of reeling from it." You know that feeling when something unexpected and wonderful happens to you out of nowhere? That's how Jones looked as he spoke of his sudden thrust into the NFL spotlight. His honest reaction to what just happened to him was simply priceless and endearing.
No matter how Jones' career plays out moving forward, if the Steelers make a deep run in the playoffs this year and even reach the ultimate game and claim the ultimate prize, his little chapter on Sunday will certainly be looked upon as important.
And if Jones goes on to become the Danny White to Roethlisberger's Roger Staubach or the Aaron Rodgers to his Brett Favre, I can always say I remember where I was when an unexpected NFL superstar was born.
I can't wait to see what these Steelers have in store for me this week in Kansas City. Will Jones star again? Will Markus Wheaton post 200 receiving yards? Will Bud Dupree record four sacks?
You can have your Dance Moms. I'll take sports for my reality TV fix.