Life, Death, and Steelers

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Via WMU Football

This year’s training camp has been quite a roller-coaster ride. The hopes of Steeler Nation rise high as we see Ben putting the ball wherever he wants, whether that is in a garbage can, the crosspiece of the goalpost, the stomach of a recalcitrant cameraman*, or to be gently cradled in Antonio Brown’s arms. Then they crash to earth as we look at the list of injured players sitting out practice—a sort of Who’s Who of our best defensive players. Not to mention the League playing Whac-a-Mole with Martavis Bryant and the Steelers, seeming moving the bar every time Bryant thinks he’s hurdled it. (I realize that was a mixed metaphor, but it’s morning, people…) Read more

Maybe They Weren’t Giants: Steelers @ NYG

photo via Steelers.com

The Steelers won their first game of this young (pre-)season. We all know these games are meaningless, or so we’ve been telling ourselves for the past however many years, when the Steelers have lost most of them. It might not mean much, but it’s nice to see them win one, especially under the circumstances.

As we knew going into the game, many of the starters didn’t even see the field, except where their feet might have strayed onto the turf on their way to the sidelines. Those starters on the offensive side included Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones (abdominal strain,) Le’Veon Bell (who of course wasn’t even there,) Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant (who was there but not playing,) James Conner (putative second back,) Maurkice Pouncey, and Alejandro Villanueva (concussion.) Did I miss anyone? Is anyone left? From last year’s starters, at least the majority of the season, the only guys on the field were Marcus Gilbert, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Jesse James, and Eli Rogers (if you considered him a starter.) And of course there were the extras—Xavier Grimble, Cobi Hamilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, et al.

In other words, given they were working against the Giants’ first-team defense (with a few exceptions such as Jason Pierre-Paul) you might think the Steelers’ offense, led by the first rookie quarterback to open the preseason for a very long time, would be overmatched. And of course you would be right, although it might be just as fair to say many of the wounds were self-inflicted.
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Joshua Dobbs, Rocket Scientist with a Rocket Arm

photo via Steelers.com

One of the scenarios which seemed almost a slam-dunk this season was that Joshua Dobbs would be a “camp darling.” After all, the man he’s behind in the depth chart, Landry Jones, has somehow or other not managed to endear himself to the fanbase, despite being about what you would expect from a backup quarterback. After all, guys are generally backups for a reason.
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Training Camp Vignettes No. 2: Tuesday August 8


Via Tribune-Review/ Christopher Tyler Randolph photo

This is a very special edition of TCV, if you will, because I was joined by none other than Homer J and Ivan Cole! We met up at the Ruths Chris Steakhouse—well, okay, it was Eat 'N Park—just east of St. Vincent's to plan our strategy. And as long as we're on the subject, can anyone explain to me why it is "Eat 'N Park" rather than "Park 'N Eat?" It isn't like they visit your car, like Sonics of old. You have to park before you can eat, unless you walk there. The Eat 'N Park in my neighborhood (Squirrel Hill) doesn't actually have a parking lot, so it would be more accurate to characterize it as "look for a long time for a parking spot, then eat." I suppose that's rather long for a sign…

But I digress already. We finished our lunch, headed over to the promised land, and claimed seats. Unlike last week, we didn't get seats in the shade right off, although we were shaded by about halfway through practice. It almost wasn't necessary, though. Mike Tomlin must have been cross, because it was the most perfect day imaginable. There was absolutely nothing to make anyone uncomfortable—beautiful blue skies with scarcely a cloud in them, temperature around 75 degrees, and the gentlest of breezes. It was, in a word, perfect. Read more

Training Camp Vignettes: Wednesday August 2nd

Tuesday was supposed to be my first day at training camp. In fact, I got about a mile from my house in the Mean Green Momma-mobile before I thought to myself, "Wait, aren't the players usually off on Tuesday?" I pulled over, checked the schedule, and the answer was yes, they were.

So yesterday I repacked my cooler bag with St. Vincent's-approved beverages (water, in this case), grabbed my binoculars and a hat and various other necessities, including, for once, a yellow pad and pen, and headed out again. I was rewarded with a beautiful day in Latrobe. It was just the way Mike Tomlin likes it—sunny and hot. Fortunately I got there early enough to snag a seat in the shade, but it was still plenty warm.

As I sat and waited for practice to begin, which it wouldn't for another 45 minutes or so, I observed my fellow thrill-seekers. On my left was a family who had driven up from Atlanta. They were at St. Vincent's primarily because their son, who looked to be eight or so, is a rabid Steelers fan. (He inherited this from his grandfather, a Pittsburgh ex-pat.) His mother said that on the Friday before the Super Bowl the kids at his school were encouraged to wear their jerseys. Apparently the teachers forgot to specify which kind, because the son proudly rocked his Antonio Brown jersey amidst the sea of red. Read more

Training Camp for Fans, Part Two: Don’t Get Trapped


Photo via Steelers.com

By Ivan Cole

This is a continuation of what you might call the inaugural series for our site, way back in 2015. As with Part 1, I’ll do a bit of commenting here and there, but mostly, just marvel in Ivan’s gift for bringing together disparate things to give us a new way of looking at them. I will be bearing all of this in mind as I sit at Latrobe later today – Ed.

Allies

The cruel irony of our situation is that in the midst of an incredible abundance of informational possibilities our ability to benefit has become increasingly more limited. [So true, for everything, not just sports…] Whether you would place the blame on the failures of an educational system producing citizens that lack perspective and understanding of their social environment, the lack of ability to think in a critical fashion, or a television based culture that creates short attention spans and celebrates the superficial and the trivial (including an outsized emphasis on the importance of sports over other concerns), increasingly for many of us it is as though we sit at a full banquet table, starving because we lack hands and a mouth. Read more

Talent vs. Effort vs. Tyler vs. Tomlin

[Photo via Steelers.com]

One of the things which has been said about the 2017 Steelers, at least since the draft was over, is that the depth at inside linebacker is dangerously thin. Ryan Shazier has certainly missed some time in the past, and he missed Games 4-6 last season. (He missed seven games in 2014 and four in 2015, so I guess you could say the arrow is pointed up.) Williams has been remarkably durable. The only season he didn’t play 16 games was his rookie year (2013) and that was the first game of the season, so I’m guessing he just didn’t “get a hat.”

As they say in the financial industry, previous performance is no guarantee of future results. But one thing to consider is just how often both Shazier and Williams will be on the field, because the Steelers have been using sub-packages an awful lot of the time. And Williams won’t be on the field anyhow on third and long. But somebody has to be, and, more to the point, there has to be a backup plan, and a backup to the backup plan. Read more

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