On Second Thought—Some Inconvenient Truths About the Steelers at Chiefs Game…
by Ivan Cole
As much as I have tried, I can’t get totally bummed about this loss. A missed opportunity? Yes. A disaster? Hardly. Just a reminder of certain truths about the game.
1. “The Standard is the Standard.”
This phrase has its uses and has been employed to great benefit by Mike Tomlin, but on the other hand, there is a reason some players are starters or stars and others are not. The reasons why are a story in and of itself. The practical takeaway in viewing yesterdays’s game is the margin for error is much narrower. Enough things didn’t go right and just enough went wrong to result in a loss.
2. Landry Jones.
That great talent that Steelers Nation has for myopia as it relates to talent should experience a reality adjustment in the coming hours.
Why did we waste the time and money in investing in Michael Vick? You got your answer.
Is Jones as bad as many have contended in the past, prior to last Sunday’s game? No. We’re Steelers fans. We traffic in exaggeration, especially with players that we have decided to not like (like Jones previously, and now Vick). Landry is a good third string quarterback who may soon become a pretty good second string quarterback, who may be in some unforeseeable future scenario become a serviceable starter. He is not Charlie Batch, who was a more than a serviceable starting quarterback masquerading as a third string quarterback. Nor is Jones even at the same level as Vick, who has forgotten more about winning at this level than Jones has yet to learn.
So, Landry did okay for a normal third string quarterback. But some of us were most likely hoping, maybe even expecting something more, shall we say, Batch-like. Which would make you, what’s the word I’m looking for here…I got it. Crazy. A better template might be Mike Kruczek from the 1976 team. His assignment was to do as little as possible while two 1,000 yard rushers were produced in Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier, and the defense literally was pitching shutouts. This year’s defense isn’t quite that good yet. And in the NFL’s 21st century form, the idea of an offense without a prominently featured and robust passing game is some sort of obscenity. Never mind that Le’Veon Bell was rather effective.
3. The Blame Game:
But let’s be clear, this wasn’t all Landry’s doing. One of the three turnovers was on him. But DeAngelo Williams dropped a pass that he shouldn’t and it likely cost a touchdown. While you can’t rely on having good luck, you certainly don’t need bad luck, which is what the other interception was about. And let’s not forget that in addition to a touchdown, Martavis Bryant is to be credited with a pass (interception) defensed.
The absence of other players was felt. Cam Thomas was a poor substitute for Stephon Tuitt. This was most deeply felt in a pass rush that lacked much of an inside push, and in some softness on the goal line that led to a Kansas City touchdown. [It’s also worth adding that during the fourth quarter Antwan Blake was out for part of it doing the concussion check and William Gay was knocked out with a shoulder injury. I can’t even think who they would have put in. Boykin, maybe? I see he had two tackles. But it’s beginning to look like the Steelers are dangerously thin in the secondary…]
Alejandro Villaneuva had a solid game, but that last fumble was on him. Cody Wallace also missed a stunt that led to a sack.
4. Positive developments:
- Did you notice that Daniel McCullers was credited with defensing a pass?
- Bryant has scored three touchdowns in two games.
- Kansas City had the reputation of shutting down some of the best running backs in the league. Not Bell though.
- Nice to see Shazier back.
- The kicking game was just fine as Boswell and Berry are allowing us to not miss Shaun Suisham and Brad Wing at all.
- And as fans were pointing out where I was watching, Boswell is cheaper. One man’s misfortune. Tough business.
- Landry can be credited for helping Antonio Brown getting some of his mojo back.
Unfortunately, he is also credited for killing Heath Miller’s consecutive game reception streak.
So Ben’s time out (and is there anymore conversation about him not coming back next week? Didn’t think so…) will be a push win/loss wise. He’s got the weapons, and the team’s fate is largely still in their own hands. The Bengals would have to stumble at least once, but that’s not an unreasonable hope.
It’s been an interesting October.