5 Smoldering Questions On the Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 11

via USA Today

by Hombre de Acero

The Steelers are coming out of their bye week and headed to Seattle where they’ll take on the defending AFC Champion Seattle Seawhawks. But before we can see if the Steelers are able to shake their “West of the Mississippi Jinx” twice in one season, Steelers Nation must first resolve these 5 Smoldering Questions.

1. In the spirit of Thanksgiving leftovers, our first question is a left over from the Cleveland game. During the Browns game, Neal Coolong observed this:

While Neal’s logic is hard to argue with, if you’re a Steelers defensive coach, do you ever instruct a defender NOT to intercept the ball?

2. When the Steelers last played the Seahawks in September 2011, they were still smarting from the Debacle in Baltimore, and rebounded with a 24-0 win. How would you described the journey this Pittsburgh team has been on since that day?

3. Looking forward to the Steelers final six games, which six Steelers do you think need to step it up the most for Pittsburgh to make the playoffs?

4. If you haven’t read it yet, please go and read Ivan Cole’s Steelers All Bust Offense and Steelers All Bust Defense, which notes players who were prematurely written off as “busts” by fans, the media and even coaches. Now let’s turn the tables. Name some of your favorite Steelers who were regaled by either fans, the media or the press as saviors and superstars who didn’t live up to the label?

5. Finally, starting in 2009, yours truly decided to pick a current Pittsburgh Steeler each Thanksgiving who gave Steelers Nation reason to give thanks. For example, last year it was Le’Veon Bell and in 2013 it was Cameron Heyward. Which Steeler would win your “Reason to Give Thanks” award for 2015? You’re limited to one choice. Defend it.

Just because the holidays are upon us does not mean that 5 Smoldering Question quiz rules get relaxed. No multiple choice answers. You must show your work to get full credit. Consulting outside sources and looking at your neighbors paper is not only allowed, but encouraged.

Have at it and Happy Thanksgiving!


  • 3. Stephon Tuitt – hopefully ready to return to pre-injury form. Bud Dupree – time to get after the QB even more often. He’s off to a good start. Blake – probably the most important guy who needs to improve. Stop giving up so many big plays. This could really be the key to finishing 6-0 or 5-1.

    The last three are easy. Ben, AB and Deangelo. Mercy, mercy . . .just stay healthy. You all are so good. We need these three to play all six games. That alone will make us at least competitive in each one.

    5. Ben. No defense needed. He’s become that good.


  • 1. On fourth down, if you’re toe-tapping the out of bounds marker — or if you are deep in the red zone and you are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN you can safely bat the ball to the ground or out of bounds, take the incompletion and the field position that comes with it.

    2. It’s been a while. We’ve all gotten older, and some of us have gotten fatter and lost some of our hairlines. Ben’s gotten hurt about a million times. We’ve won some. We’ve lost some. We’re actually a lot younger now than we were then. And have a much better long-term future with all our young guys.

    3. Tuitt, Dupree, Shazier, Ben, AB, and D-Will. Three on O. Three on D.

    4. Sadly, the final year or years of Troy and Franco. They were so great for so long. But Father Time will eventually have his way with us, and it was hard to admit they had lost a step – or more. Not that we still don’t love them.

    5. Ben. He’s the glue that holds it all together. And, if we figure out what’s been holding HIM together, we need to patent it and sell it on QVC. We’ll all be millionaires. Billionaires, with plenty of pairs of underwear. Bernie Sanders will hate us and tax us to death. The system is rigged. Happy Thanksgiving, one and all.


  • 1. Not me. Try to imagine the trail of logic required to decide you shouldn’t catch it, and then override all your instincts telling you to catch it. I’d much rather have the poorer field position and the sure turnover…

    2. Definitely up and down, more down than up at first, and now more up than down. And the main thing is Homer’s point that the team is way younger now, instead of aging rapidly and not particularly gracefully.

    3. Marcus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant – for heavens sakes, catch the catchable ones. Jarvis Jones—don’t give them a reason to give your playing time to the old man. Corners—love them making plays for the ball, but don’t forget to tackle for starters…

    4. This is what fans do. So take David DeCastro. We were all incredibly excited about getting him, and forgot that it would time and consistency on the line for the talent to mature.

    5. Boy, this is so tough. Fortunately I had already decided to do something similar in tomorrow’s post, so I’ll just let that speak for me…


  • 1. I have seen enough footballs go off or through people’s hands and to the other team that I would always tell them to catch it if they can.
    2. I think that their journey since 2011 has been inevitable, in that they had so much higher priced players who were past their prime that unfortunately, these guys had to retire in order for them to become highly competitive again.
    3. I would say Bryant (even though he’s been good, he can be so much better), Wheaton, and Jordan Todman (because he may well have to spell Williams at some point) on offense, and Shazier, Jarvis Jones, and Blake on defense.
    4. Mark Malone would have to be one of my favorite players (if he only could have consistently played the way he did in a few of his better games). Other than him, maybe Santonio and Mike Wallace, as good as they were, they could have had much better careers in Pittsburgh than they did.
    5. I would say Mike Mitchell. I have really seen him cover a lot of ground in the deep secondary and make some great TD-saving tackles. Especially after all the criticism he received last year, it is great that he hung in there and has become so efficient this year. I think he is the reason that the Steelers have given up so many yards and so few point this year.


  • 1. Coaches can tell them until they’re blue in the face just to bat it away in certain situations, but instinct will always kick in if a ball is right in front of you. You’ll almost always WANT to catch it.

    2. It’s been a roller coaster, but outside of the constant injuries, I’d say the team has done pretty well!

    3. Cody Wallace, AV, Williams on offense. Blake, Jarvis Jones, and Shazier on defense.

    4. In recent memory, it has to be Chris Rainey. He had some brilliant moments and I think he could have done some good things, but unfortunately his off the field issues got the better of him.

    5. I think the easy answer would be Ben for obvious reasons, but I’m going to go with De’Angelo Williams. He came in this offseason with a positive mindset, and has had HUGE shoes to fill with the absence of Bell. He’s done a pretty good job, for a RB his age.


  • 1. I agree with those who said no. And to their reasons, I’ll add this. A lot of athletes use visualization techniques. Practitioners all have their own jargon but my own best coach (a horse whisperer/show jumper coach, by the way) would have called an interception “a roaming unicorn.” Meaning if you had a chance at one, it would be rare, unexpected and unpredictable. To visualize yourself intercepting a football would mean you’d have to create literally hundreds of fantasy interceptions–from all angles, in many situations, in dozens of conditions: weather, uniform colors, bodies around you, grass in front of you. These fantasy visualizations are the frailest that the brain can impose on the body (unlike visualizing, for example, something you do constantly and consistently and want to do perfectly, something you can really practice or watch yourself doing on video), and that’s what it’s all about: setting up the brain to control the body in tiny tiny reflex and muscle firings in situations the brain thinks it already understands because you’ve walked it through the pictures.

    The corresponding rule is to never ever provide your brain with a picture of fantasy failure: “don’t fall” in words or thought can become a brain snapshot of yourself falling and so the body follows through sometimes. So “don’t intercept” even if those words were meant to pertain to a certain situation or moment might provide a conflicting picture for a brain and show up in the body when you don’t want it. Sounds like weird voodoo stuff sometimes, but autistic people have repeatedly proved that the brain does things in pixels some of us don’t see simply because we see in pictures that are bigger and less detailed. My own experience, and I started out as a skeptic, is that it works too well and too often to dismiss.

    2. The natural course of any team in the NFL. The Steelers have probably played better than they were because as someone, probably Rebecca, has pointed out, Tomlin told them they were better than they were and they believed it. The Seahawks have had their own up and downs, but all teams do.

    3. Six? Ben and DeAngelo and Shazier and Boswell and then I’m done.

    4. Pouncey? It may very well be sheer ignorance on my part and while I’m willing to believe the Steelers played better with him than they have without him, I’ve never seen or felt the difference in any way that bowled me over.

    5. DeAngelo. We didn’t expect him to be this good. And he has heart. I believe he’s one of those guys who inspires the people around him, so he’s a lot more than the backup we wish we didn’t need.

    Happy Thanksgiving!



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