5 Smoldering On the Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 6

RIP Adrian Robinson

by Hombre de Acero

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ improbable victory over Pittsburgh West, aka the Arizona Cardinals, further galvanized Mike Tomlin’s “Next Man Up” philosophy. But before we can turn our attention to the Black and Gold’s upcoming encounter at Arrowhead Stadium, Steelers Nation must first struggle with these 5 Smoldering Questions on the Steelers….

1. When it looked like he would start against the Chargers, the speculators questioned if Martavis Bryant’s insertion into the offense might boost Mike Vick’s fortunes the way Eric Green once boosted Bubby Brister’s. Bryant did provide a big time boost, but Landry Jones was the beneficiary.

While our overall data set is small, what light does Antonio Browns frustration without Ben Roethlisberger vs. Bryant’s stunning success with the backups shed on the age-old question of how much a receiver can make a quarterback look good vs. a quarterback making a receiver look good?

2. Speaking of Landry Jones…. When Jones saw his first preseason action in 2013, our own Ivan Cole emailed me and wondered aloud if it Charlie Batch wouldn’t be back by opening day. The Steelers kept Jones on the roster, despite increasingly vocal protests from the fan base, as the tweet below indicates:

If we can agree that less than two quarters of NFL action is hardly a representative sample, what does Jones’ performance on Sunday tell you about the player development in the NFL?

3. At his weekly press conference Mike Tomlin indicated, given the relative health statuses of Ben Roethlsiberger, Michael Vick, and Landry Jones, Jones was the likely starter vs. Kansas City. However…. should Roethisberger be unable to go and should Vick be back at full health, who do you start?

4. In 2012 an undrafted rookie free agent caught the eyes of the coaches sufficiently that he earned snaps in Dick LeBeau’s defense.  We didn’t see much of him on defense during 2013 and 2014, but this last week Robert Golden got his first start at safety. How do you assess his performance?

5. This week’s 5 Smoldering’s must, by necessity, close on a sobering note. Last week an autopsy confirmed that that former Steelers linebacker Adrian Robinson was suffering from CTE when he committed suicide last May.

Steelers Nation is of course no stranger to CTE, which afflicted Mike Webster, Terry Long, and Justin Strzelczyk. Yet unlike those three, Robinson was only 25 and had appeared in all of 22 games. In that light, what does Adrian Robinson’s CTE diagnosis tell you?

There you go folks. Have at it!


  • 1. Not much. It says a lot about a QB who can’t get the ball to the best receiver in the NFL. Vick has been atrocious and his inability to get the ball to AB in any meaningful way is Exhibit A.

    2. It shows what I’ve long suspected: even the most savvy fan has absolutely no idea of the level of a player’s development, unless that player has played meaningful time in a regular season game. The “unexpected” development of so many Steeler provides ample evidence: Gilbert, Beechum, Gay, Mitchell, Cam Thomas (yes, Cam Thomas), Shazier, Jarvis Jones and now, perhaps Landry Jones. All of these players have been written off by more than a few uber-vocal fans as busts.

    3. Jones. Vick has shown nothing more than a barely adequate ability to manage a game and not lose it (though if he makes the throw on 4th and 1 to AB, we win that one too). Landry Jones had a great game. While he probably have a more difficult time against KC, I don’t live in my fears, especially from my living room. Jones plays until he convinces me that Vick is an upgrade.

    4. I’m no authority on safety play, but I saw no glaring goofs against a high powered offense. I’d say he did pretty darn good.

    5. It tells me what I already knew and the NFL has spend years hiding and ignoring: playing in the NFL is a very dangerous occupation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ” All of these players have been written off by more than a few uber-vocal fans as busts. ”

      I don’t comment much, but I read a bunch of sites daily. One thing I have noticed is that fans will make a snap judgement on a poor game or rookie preseason games, and nothing (and I mean nothing) will change that judgement. William Gay has been a solid CB at worst and above average most of the time, but it is still easy to find comments that “Gay sucks.”

      Landry Jones was playing fairly well most of the preseason. Bear in mind that he was mostly throwing to and being protected by guys who are now bagging groceries. But some people will never see that he has improved.

      I doubt that the cries of Mitchell sucks will be quieted because of his plays against the Cardinals.

      Liked by 2 people

  • 1. – Although it can say a lot with some qb/wr matchups, I don’t think this is the case in Ben/Brown. Though they do have an amazing rapport, Vick couldn’t get the ball to anyone and didn’t seem to see AB at all. We shall see this week how much AB gets the ball with Landry behind center and a full playbook (or at least much more extensive than with Vick) at his disposal.

    2. – As poorly as Jones played in all of the preseason games we have seen him in, this past weekend was a big surprise to many fans. Obviously, the coaches saw more and something different than what the fans saw. Hopefully it lasts for at least one more week and he turns into a backup as reliable as, if not more so than Charlie Batch.

    3. – Jones all the way. Give him a chance. Vick has shown his ineptitude in spades. Let Jones prove his worth.

    4. – To mirror roxannafirehall, there were no glaring goofs. Also, the defense as a whole only allowed 13 points from a very high powered offense and the backend of the defense only allowed 1 play to reach the endzone. I would say that was a success.

    5. – That football is a dangerous sport, though we all knew that.


  • 1 – WRs always get more credit than they likely should, but it should be broken down on case-by-case basis. A guy like AB should get more credit because he does amazing things after the catch — he isn’t just running deep and catching it in stride right at the goal-line. AB is a great receiver, but Big Ben is an HOFer. However, bringing out AB’s greatness requires more work from the QB. An average or worse QB doesn’t have the ability to use the tool (AB) properly. Brown is a precision instrument. A scalpel in the hands of a master surgeon like Big Ben. Vick couldn’t use a scalpel. He’s limited to sledgehammers and other blunt instruments. Landry Jones is the same way. Martavis Bryant is taller, faster, and easier to find. He’s an easier tool to use.
    So the fact that AB does better with Big Ben isn’t necessarily a knock on AB…but a testament to how well Big Ben uses the tools at his disposal.

    2 – It says that practice cannot approximate live game reps. And that preseason games don’t always give a good reading on regular season games. It also accentuates the importance of chemistry, knowledge of a system, and time. Landry Jones did not look good in preseason…especially compared to Big Ben, Grad, or anyone who has been in the offense. But he’s light years ahead of any one who hasn’t been around.

    3 – It is one thing to not consider taking Vick out during the game, because you didn’t really have any proof that Landry Jones could do better. But now you do know. So there’s no reason to have Vick start. Vick has not done anything this season to warrant keeping his starting job automatically.

    4 – He played well. He took advantage of his opportunity. Much like Jones, he stepped up when needed.

    5 – It reinforces my belief that full contact football at the youth level should be curtailed. Repeated blows to the head add up..and it is more likely that those guys going pro now have been playing in full pads since they were 7-8 years old. I graduated high school in 1999, and it was common for a lot of the kids in school to never have played in pads until 7th or 8th grade. Now many kids are playing in pads before they’ve graduated from reading Dr. Seuss books, and being coached by adults trying to be Lombardi. I think you can teach a kid the game of football without the hitting — seriously — and perhaps that should be considered more by parents. Or..you know…just wait til they are older. The hits a kid receives at age 8 aren’t discounted just because the kid is younger. I’m painting with a broad brush..and maybe Robinson didn’t play at the youth levels… but it certainly shows that CTE isn’t a disease of the old, long-time NFL players… but one of long-time players.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That a good point on kids and hitting.
      I watched my nefew take a shot which clearly concussed him.
      The coaches pulled him and sat him for awhile, but that’s one for him and he was 10 or 11 at the time.
      That one would have never happened in flag.


    • Reinforcing your point on #5. I don’t know what the actual impact is, but it would be prudent to stop full contact football before high school. First the general athletic arms race has generally gotten out of hand. Most kids don’t need to be taking sports but so seriously prior to puberty which often creates or wipes out advantages that previous years of athletic participation might create. And even in youth biased field like ballet, a Missy Copeland can confound expectations about necessary age of participation and body type.

      Second, Football is particularly sensitive to issues of physical maturity. Unlike other sports few if any football players are deemed ready for the NFL prior to age 20, and deterioration comes at a faster rate as well. I and most of my peers did not put on a football uniform until 9th grade at the earliest. I don’t think the quality of play or the developmental opportunities of the players suffered. At minimum, and especially until we are clearer of the actual causes, we can restrict participation as a prudent move.

      Liked by 4 people

      • Well said, Ivan. I and I am very sure many other people are struggling with balancing our love of professional football with the damage that is being done. There is no reason in the world to be letting little kids hit. When you read things like Friday Night Lights it makes you wonder if something is really out of whack as a society in our priorities.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Our priorities are driven by gain and gratification. I think many of the problems with football is because it is such a large dollar maker. Not because it is popular, but because anything you want to change butts up against the millions of dollars people are making because of it. This trickles down to the impact it has on young bodies and minds. This is getting a little off track, but the atrocious behaviors of high profile athletes is just as harmful as the physical injuries, however, this is what we are priming our children to admire and emulate. It won’t change as long as it is profitable and as long as we want to enjoy ourselves more that protect others. I care a great deal about these issues, and heck I am watching the next game twirlin’ my towel and making semi-animalistic sounds at my team. Yes. I am that far gone.

          Liked by 1 person

  • 1, 2 and 3. We must, in the final analysis, ask ourselves this question: Steelers Nation, have you no shame? How quickly we forget that were it not for the fact of the best-receiver-in-game-who-now-is-throwing-tantrums dropping a well thrown ball from that waste of human flesh, Michael Vick, we would have likely been spared the heroics of Josh Scobee and sitting pretty at 5-1. Now you want to organize a parade down Liberty Avenue for a guy who three days ago most of us believed should be living (with Scobee) under one of Pittsburgh’s many bridges, sipping cheap wine out of a paper bag and feasting on what unsuspecting rodents might come their way.

    I would compare our player evaluating skills to those of people with special needs, but it would be unforgivably insulting to those with special needs. We (including myself) are ATROCIOUS!!! ‘We were behind you all along Landry!’ And now, of course, this time we think we know what we’re talking about. We do this as we also shed tears for the loss of a player (Kelvin Beachum), whose bleached bones would have resided under that same bridge that housed Jones and Scobee if it had been up to a majority of Steelers fans. Let us keep that in mind as we continue to insist that Dri Archer be invited to dine on roasted squirrel and Ripple, are amazed that the Steelers defense and their good-for-nothing-because-they-lack-the-proper-measurables-or-high-draft-status-secondary confound our sage expectations that they would be terrible (based, like Landry, on their preseason performance) and continue to nurture this bizarre quarterback controversy.

    4. See above.

    5. And speaking of misplaced passions. It will be interesting the contrast between how over the top our musings will be over Ben vs Vick vs Jones, and how flat and detached the conversation will be over Adrian Robinson. That was his name. Went to Temple, my school.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Talking about Adrian Robinson will cause fans to think about the negatives of the sport….something that fans have proven, repeatedly, they never want to do. Especially if that negative was associated with the team they root for.

      The all powerful ‘they knew what they were signing up for’ and ‘they make too much money’ excuses whitewash everything.


      • The real problem is agency. Not as in sports agents (although they probably are a problem as well) but as in how can we tell an over-18 year old anything at all? They have the right to make these choices, frequently the immaturity to not make them thoughtfully, and are helped along by the hypocrisy of the NFL, who is making money twice on the big hits – on the fines and the sale of the videos. I don’t see any good solutions, other than the obvious one of eliminating hitting in youth football. Chris Henry stirred up this same debate, and the only thing which has changed is the NFL taking concussions seriously with the independent evaluators at each game. And I’m sure even that is to cover their butts…


    • repped for the ‘dine on roasted squirrel and ripple’ line, that killed me.

      Liked by 2 people

  • 1 and 2. As a fan, I was not impressed with Jones at camp last year or even at the start of this year. But I started to see him in a different light as he took snap after snap in the pre-game. He began to have a confidence and a rhythm that he was lacking in all that time.
    3. Landry Jones. Should have been put in sooner, as he has demonstrated the ability to read the field and anticipate the way our offense needs him to. The other QB does not demonstrate that confidence or insight.
    4. Super impressed with Golden.
    5. (a) Playing a sport that involves slamming physically into several large oncoming masses is dangerous and foolish to the extreme. (b) Our understanding of recognition, treatment, and rehabilitation of concussion and head injuries is woefully inadequate.


    • “Our understanding of recognition, treatment, and rehabilitation of concussion and head injuries is woefully inadequate.” Totally agree. I do think the effort is being made, because anybody who can figure out how to stop or reverse the damage is going to make a whole lot of money, just for starters.


  • 1. I think it highlights that you can’t create the connection Ben and AB have in a few weeks, and so much of their game is predicated on that. I think he will get more balls thrown his way by Jones, because Jones can actually see him. But I’m guessing that the plays for AB in the playbook are mostly much more sophisticated than the ones for Bryant, and that means Bryant is an easier “read” for Jones, until the defense decides to focus on him. Then maybe Brown will be the beneficiary. But if I was AB I would be lobbying the coaches to line me up on Jones’ right…

    2. I have so much to say about this, I think I’m going to write an article.

    3 It’s hard to see how there can be two opinions. It’s Jones’ job to lose. And I sincerely hope he plays well enough to keep it until Ben comes back, because things are going to get pretty awkward. I gather young Tyler Murphy is running the scout team this week…

    4. I didn’t hear his name – always a good sign for a DB.

    5. I just hope his death can mean something, and pray that his family can help to see that it does. A lot to ask of grieving parents, I know…

    Liked by 1 person

  • #3 Have to start Jones in my opinion. He deserves it.


  • 1. Agreed with Rebecca. I think this is indicative of chemistry between certain players. The plays that work out for Ben, may not work for Vick or Landry, so you need to adjust.

    2. When I saw this question, I immediately thought of my favorite “Tomlinism”: It’s not what you’re capable of, it’s what you’re willing to do.

    3. Landry. I’m not frothing at the mouth like a lot of people because we still haven’t seen him play a full 60 minutes when games actually matter, but I think we were all getting a little frustrated with the sub par performances Vick was putting on. I’m cautiously optimistic.

    4. He’s been solid, and that’s all that can be asked of him.

    5. I echo with many sentiments on here. It’s an absolute tragedy, and I hope that something good can come out of this.


  • 5 Blazing Answers

    1. I don’t think there is a WR out there that can make Vick look good, he is done. AB’s connection with BR is about timing and trust, IMO, they make each other look good. It is really nice having two WR’s who can be superstars on the same roster, with a franchise QB I believe we finally reach Seaven this season.

    2. The problem with LJ going back to his college days is lack of consistency. He can have good plays and good games but they are often followed by bad plays and bad games. But to heck with all that, choo choo, if you haven’t jumped on the LJ train you are missing out on a lot of fun. As far as NFL development and Landry Jones, I don’t think a half of good play answer’s anything.

    3. 96% of Steeler’s fans at the “other site” answered a poll question with Landry Jones. I agree. In fair disclosure, I wrote the poll and have changed my signature to I LOVE LANDRY JONES for the entirety of this week. The previous signature will be back in place next week but after all the grief I have given LJ I thought it was only fair to give the guy some love.

    4. It was good enough that I can break out one of my favorite nicknames again. Long live the Golden Hammer!

    5. I don’t know. CTE is very scary, a lot of research needs to be done. IMO, they should get rid of the modern helmets and padding and replace them with less padding and old leather helmets. Then players would play a little more under control. It would be interesting to see a comparison of injury rates then versus now but before Rebecca goes into research mode I am not sure they kept very good statistics on injuries back then.


  • 1. Vick looked tentative a lot of the time. Execute the play that is called then the chemistry will follow.
    2.It shows that the little things in life determine the big things.
    3. Jones
    4. agree with everyone’s assessment
    5. Hopefully the research they are doing sheds some light on the problem. With all of our brightest scientists and in depth research we still know very little about the brain.


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