5 Smoldering Questions on the Play-off Bound Pittsburgh Steelers

Kordell_Stewart_Pittsburgh_Steelers_rookie_cardby Hombre de Acero

To quote our own Homer J, Pittsburgh got a first hand view of the Lazarus effect this week as the Steelers Beat the Browns to clinch a playoff spot with an assist for Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills.

Just as they did in 2005, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ quest for their next Lombardi Trophy begins on the road, at Paul Brown Stadium. But before the Black and Gold can battle in the Queen City, this corner of Steelers Nation must first resolve these 5 Smoldering Questions on the Pittsburgh Steelers.

1. A few weeks ago we asked you about the Steelers depth, or lack thereof, behind DeAngelo Williams. We won’t revisit that question, but we will pose one that was being tossed around on Twitter Monday morning:

Clearly the Steelers aren’t making this move, but should they have considered it?

2. OK, we lied. A few weeks ago we asked about Ben Roethlisberger’s return to throwing careless interceptions. Since then he’s now had 3 straight multiple interception games for that first time in his career, most of them looking down right Kordell Stewartish (and this is from someone who defended Kordell.)

Are you worried?

3. The Steelers sack total jumped from 33 in 2014 to 47 in 2015, yet only 11 of those came from the Steelers outside linebacking corps. Do you think this is due to a shift in the defensive strategy, or do you think this is an example of Keith Butler bringing pressure from other areas to cover up a deficiency?

4. For over a month now, everyone has been saying the Steelers are the team that “no one wants to play” in the playoffs. Given the way the Steelers have played over these last two weeks, do you agree or disagree?

5. I watched Sunday’s game on tape delay. My wife and I rented a car (yes, you can live w/o owning a car in Buenos Aires) and wanted to take advantage and…
…well, the Steelers have done well on tape delay recently.

Come Saturday I’ll watch with the same Terrible Towel I’ve twirled in big Steelers games since my mother bought it for me in the Mercy Hospital in 1994 after my Grandfather passed way. Were I at home, I’d be wearing the Steelers knit hat I wore when they were winning Super Bowls XIII and XIV.

What Steelers superstitions will you indulge in to put the Black and Gold over the top?

17 comments

  • #1. No. I work in the criminal justice system, and fully believe in rehabilitation and the need for second chances in our country. However, Ray Rice’s second chance should no be with our team. He likely has very little that he can bring to the table other than a media storm and controversy.

    #2. Not worried about Ben. For years, we have lived and died by his right arm. We love when he’s Ben being Ben, and hate when he’s Ben being Ben. I would rather have him out there doing what he does than try to keep him contained. Ever notice how when you try really hard to do something, like try to get the paper ball into the trash can across the room, you can’t? I’d rather he be foot loose and fancy free on Sat. I think that is what will hurt the Bengals the most.

    #3. I think Butler has just been doing what he thinks is best for the defense. If that means less sack by the linebackers, and more for everyone else, so be it. I don’t think that the defense has been nearly as bad as we all feared it would. September was a long time ago, and they have come a really long way in my opinion.

    #4. I do agree that we are a team that nobody wants to play right now. We are relatively healthy going into the post season. Most of the players that we lost were lost many games ago. Their replacements have had plenty of time to adapt and be brought along. I think that Wallace has been more than serviceable, Al V has played extremely well, and D-Will’s body of work speaks for itself. I think that we have enough moving forward that we will be able to sufficiently compete with any of the remaining teams.

    #5. Let’s put it this way: I was cocky enough not to have my terrible towel with me on the couch, not to wear my lucky underwear, not to wear my lucky Steelers T-Shirt that I always wear under my Troy Polamalu jersey, and not to wear said jersey the week that we lost to the Ravens. My wife even asked what I was doing not wearing my usual attire. I told her that it was too hot in the house for that stuff, and that I thought we’d be fine in that game without me being superstitious. Needless to say, I have already ensure that the underwear and T-Shirt are washed and ready to wear (I only spot clean the jersey after the season is over), the jersey is hanging in my closet alongside my T-Shirt, and my stack of Terrible Towels are still in their spot in the closet. All items will be filling their appropriate roles on Saturday. We’re not losing another game because of me!

    Liked by 1 person

  • 1. Jeez, Hombre, I just got over Mike Vick.

    2. Well, I’m not worried he’ll play like Koredell being Kordell, but maybe I’m a wee bit concerned.

    3. I think 47 sacks is 47 sacks. I don’t care who tackles the QB, just so he goes down.

    4. Given the way they played, they’re not real scary. But anyone who WANTS to play us is nuts.

    5. I will wear my Lambert jersey. This is the first year I wore the same jersey for each game. I will have my TD beat w/the Steelers hoodie and my terrible towel. If the game is on the line in the waning minutes, LD and I will stand until time expires.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Toronto Steeler Fan

    1. Nope. The character issues aside, he had already lost it before he left football.

    2. Yes. I’m hoping that this can be explained by the flu. PLEASE let it be explained by the flu.

    3. Butler is making up by scheme and matchup for what he does not have in talent and experience. It was a great way to get the most out of the mess he had on his hands coming out of pre-season (remember how bad the defense looked back then?).

    4. After the Denver game they were the team that Nobody wanted to play. And then a bunch of Nobodies in Ravens uniforms played them and won. After these last two games, they look very beatable. Imagine how a QB like Brady* or Rodgers would have dismantled them these past two weeks….

    5. I wait until half time to decide whether to invoke my superstitions or not. If the game is going fine, then don’t change anything AT ALL. Otherwise…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • in re 4. Well, Brady* has a high ankle sprain, and the Packers have looked very un-Packer-like. I think as fans we tend to remember our own at their worst and good teams at their best, unless we just played them. If you had said “Seattle” that would be another story, unfortunately. Frankly, I think THEY are the team nobody wants to play just now.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Honestly, I agree with your basic point, but Butler has more talent to work with on the Steelers defense than I think is generally acknowledged, at least in the front seven. Mitchell has been good this year and so has Allen.

      Like

  • 1. Nope. Agree totally with Toronto Steeler Fan.
    2. Perhaps you shouldn’t have asked about Ben’s return to throwing careless interceptions. Just sayin’ (in line with question 5) I’m hoping the pic I put at top of Kordell will exorcise the careless question : )
    3. I think Butler is probably a genius. I couldn’t care less where the sacks are coming from, as long as they are coming. I think the main reason Dick LeBeau is gone is that he was unwilling or unable to adapt his scheme to the players he actually had. In fact, I feel an article coming on…
    5. Well, I will tell you this, my youngest son will not be allowed to watch any games the rest of this season. The Steelers have lost every time he watches (in real time, naturally. He is welcome to watch them after the game is over.) This includes the second Ravens debacle. Sorry, Edmund…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Totally agree with you on LeBeau appearing to not be willing to change up even when things weren’t working. We have had several great second half adjustments this year, and that just didn’t feel to be the same last year with LeBeau calling the shots. Obviously, LeBeau’s pinky nail knows more about defense than I do, but I do remember watching games the last few years wondering why they team wasn’t making very successful in-game adjustments.

      Like

    • First, I will simply was not in favor of LeBeau going (in fact, as fate would have it I wrote a long article arguing his case, and learned hey’d “resigned” just before publishing it…)

      With that said, the strongest and best argument for a chance was that his system was too complex and therefore took rookies too long to play. I think there’s some truth to that. After LeBeau left the first time in 1997, Bill Cowher first charged Jim Haslett and then Tim Lewis with coming in and running the system in place.

      And, while its not available on the internet, I remember an article written about Tim Lewis when he was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2000. Lewis of course had joined as secondary coach in 1995 after two years of coaching at Pitt.

      In the article, Lewis admitted that he didn’t really understand LeBeau’s system until the Steelers reached the Super Bowl at the end of his first season of coaching — this is after playing in the NFL during the 80’s and coaching in the college ranks since 1987.

      Like

    • Toronto Steeler Fan

      Re Why Lebeau is gone….

      If you’re looking for things to poke into here (:-)) it may also be worth considering how the Steelers have been drafting and development on defense recently. Going back to 2009, there hasn’t been a lot of success here, at least compared with the offense. A couple of early round hits like Heyward and Tuitt, some highly unremarkable early round picks like Hood and Worilds, and very little of note from the 5th round down to UDFAs. That’s a long stretch of mediocre drafting and development on one side of the ball.

      This is just my back-of-the-envelope analysis. And come to think of it, most of the guys that formed the Super Bowl defenses of the 00’s were drafted before Lebeau came back in 2004, correct?

      Assuming that Lebeau has a high degree of input into the drafting process, this may be a big reason why he’s gone (as opposed to what actually ended up on the field the past couple of seasons).

      Like

      • This is a good point, but it is hard to really pinpoint an answer because we don’t know how much impact the coaches have on draft decisions. We do know, based on statements from coaches like Carnell Lake that in Pittsburgh coaches do have some input (he contrasted this to his experience in Green Bay, where he said coaches got what they got.)

        But we don’t know how far that influence extents to assistant coaches.

        Jim Wexell has mentioned that Bruce Arians had no interest in rebuilding the offensive line, but that was one sentence in an article unrelated to drafting.

        With that said, if you want to look at the quality of the Steelres defensive drafting and developing, I think you’d need to start at 2007 and while the Steelers have had hits and misses, I’m not sure how much of that can be thought of as LeBeau’s “fault.” LeBeau isn’t responsible for LaMarr Woodley fizzing out after starting so strong. And while Keenan Lewis started slowly, he did develop into a good player. Again, LeBeau’s not responsible for the salary cap decisions that kept the Steelers from keeping him.

        At the end of the day, the Steelers intended on keeping LeBeau but were high on Keith Butler, and Butler had said no to coordinator jobs several times. Jim Wexell wrote on Twitter that LeBeau walked into his meeting with Tomlin expecting to get a raise and found out he was done. And its has been more or less confirmed that Butler had an offer and was going to take it, forcing Tomlin to make a decision.

        I wanted to see LeBeau stay, but I’m happy with what Keith Butler has done.

        Like

  • Sorry I am not answering in the standard format. Saw the Ray Rice question from one other site(didnt click on it). I actually think it is quite a silly question to ask in all honesty. Probably just put out there to generate traffic on those sites because it has no other real relevance. Kordell Stewartish….next……Same blueprint for the Steelers. Win the turnover battle and limit them to field goals in the red zone. AJ McCarron should be better prepared but let’s hope nerves from starting his first playoff game cause him to be inaccurate early on. Maybe sail some throws early to our guys. Hoping for more balance in the offense but I don’t expect it. Ben will probably be slingin it everywhere as usual 30-40 times looking for chunk yardage. Be prepared for a couple third and short bombs again, feast or famine I guess, certainly not dink n dunk. The game should be closer this time.

    Like

  • 1. Oh, dear God, no.

    2. Yep. It all started when Bryant and Wheaton both got cases of the dropsies and he started forcing the ball to AB. When you lose confidence in your receivers, the quick passing game goes all to hell. DHB is a huge plus in this situation. If Bryant makes a big play early, everything will turn around. If not, it’s time to sit him and play DHB.

    3. Both. Harrison, Dupree, and Shazier have been uneven all year. And the schemes have changed to take advantage of the freakish abilities of Heyward and Tuitt. There is much more pressure coming from the front three under the new schemes.

    4. Actually, Seattle is the NFC team nobody wants to play. And that 1-5 lousy team that’s won ten in a row in KC is the AFC team that nobody wants to play. But, really, it’s Seattle that’s the wild card team that nobody wants to play.

    Like

  • 1 – No.

    2 – No.

    3 – I think it is a shift in strategy. The 3 guys up front are beastly and should be allowed to rush the QB. If you have talent somewhere, you should use it..and not limit it due to scheme.

    4 – I never agree with that sentiment. Past performance is not indicative of future results. But it helps the fans.

    5 – There’s just a bar I have to avoid (easy now, since it is 2 states away). Steelers record when I watch games at that bar? 0-6.

    Like

  • 1. No. See Ben Tate.

    2. I’m not too worried. More often than not, it seems like his INT’s are being caused by forced throws. If someone isn’t open downfield, throw to the check down receiver or even throw it away.

    3. I would say a shift in strategy, to utilize pressure from other areas. I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s an attempt to “cover up a deficiency” though.

    4. I’m with elpalito on this one.

    5. I wear my Lambert jersey and Steelers socks whenever they’re in the playoffs.

    Like

  • 1) Please, No. He has been out of football for two years. It took the workout warrior, James Harrison, four weeks to get into playing shape after he missed only one training camp. How long did it take Keisel to get into playing shape, and he was still expecting to sign on with someone. This would all be enough, but then you add in that he was pretty well done when he was still playing. I son’t even want to think about all of the other baggage that comes with him.

    2) Not worried at all. This team lives or dies with Ben and Ben will be Ben (add any other cliches you like here…) If he has a good game, the Steelers will win, if he has a bad game, I will be putting my towels away until next year. But I don’t want him to change his playing style.

    3) It’s scheme. The front three are not tying up blockers like they did under LeBeau, so the outside linebackers don’t get as many chances. If I had Tuitt, Heyward and McLendon, all quick guys who can and do bring pressure I would have probably changed the scheme as well. The O-linebackers are dropping into coverage far more than they used to, so the opposing offense doesn’t know who is coming and who is in coverage.

    4) I think every playoff team believes that they can beat all of the other teams. If they didn’t think that way, they never would have made it to the NFL.

    5) I wear Steeler garb, wave my towel and chant “Heeeath, but I don’t believe that it has any outcome on the game. My wife and I will joke around about it but we really aren’t superstitious people.

    Like

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