I tried to sit down to write this sooner, but I was too busy freaking out, pacing back and forth in an agitated state, repeating "Woe is me! Woe is me!" for hours on end, preparing for the apocalypse. The only thought that calmed me down was, "Well, maybe we'll get a better draft pick?"
So, here I am in a much calmer state-- which still is far from calm-- bringing you the fourth edition of Chill out or freak out. As usual, I'm only listing three topics, so feel free to chime in with your own reactions.
Josh Scobee: Freak out
Last week I had Scobee as a "Chill Out." As soon as he took to the field on Thursday, I realized that my "Chill Out" rating was delusional. When anything depends on Scobee, my heart starts racing, all of my favorite football food appears unappetizing, and I start fidgeting. That is not the mark of a chilled out person, and given reactions on Twitter, other Steelers fans felt the same way.
More relevant than fans' reactions is coach Mike Tomlin's reaction to his placekicker. In overtime, he opted to go for it on fourth down instead of entrusting the game to the man who has struggled to make both field goals and extra points throughout the season.
It is hard to win football games without a placekicker, so hopefully the Steelers will find a replacement soon. It will be their fourth kicker so far this season, but they need to keep trying until they find someone competent. What's Gary Anderson up to these days?
The Secondary: Chill out
The secondary is performing much better than expected and has made some huge strides so far this regular season. Ross Cockrell was responsible for two turnovers and stepped up in a big way, something the secondary will need to do regularly in Ben Roethlisberger's absence. Antwon Blake has missed a few tackles here and there-- very frustrating to watch-- but for the most part he plays with a controlled aggression that brings about big plays for the defense, and, of equal importance, prevents opposing offenses from making big plays.
The dbacks seem more comfortable with each other and are on the same page with very few exceptions. If you think back to the Patriots game when Rob Gronkowski was left completely uncovered and last-minute communication before the snap belied a complete lack of coordination among the secondary, it is a miracle the defensive backs are performing this well. Or, more likely than a miracle, coaching staff and players have worked hard to remedy some glaring deficiencies and are driven to improve throughout the season.
Run Defense: Freak out
I don't know how many times a person can be fooled into thinking that the Steelers would stop a run on first contact. Sure, it happened a few times, but more often than not, my cheers of "Good stop!!!" turned into wails of desperation and disappointment as the Ravens running backs picked up yardage after the play appeared to be over. Justin Forsette ran for 150 yards on just 27 carries, a devastating average of 5.6 yards per carry.
How bad is the rushing defense? Pittsburgh has allowed 453 yards over four games, an average of 4.0 yards per rushing attempt, and a dismal 113.2 yards per game, a stat that puts them 21st in the league. Compare that to pass defense where after four games the Steelers rank 14th in yards allowed per game at 232.8.
Obviously, this list is not comprehensive. Michael Vick, player injuries, special teams in general, and play calling are all sources of stress. Going into Week 5 against the Chargers away in San Diego, the Steelers have some decisions to make in terms of personnel, and some major adjustments and work to do in other areas. The long week should help matters- we hope.