5 Smoldering Questions: Bengals at Steelers Edition


Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo

As noted last week, Hombre is unavailable for an indefinite amount of time, rather like Ladarius Green. Unlike Green, he can come back before six weeks are up, but may or may not, depending on how his fingers are doing and whether he is still having headaches. Or not, depending on who you ask…

My attempt is not to replace him, because like Heath Miller, you can’t hope to do so. You can only hope to keep things going and throw a few good blocks in the process.

1. Is there a solution to the refereeing issues we’ve been seeing in the past few seasons in particular? Is it full-time referees, like pretty much every other professional sport has, or fines for poor performance? Or do we just have to accept that they are human beings who can’t catch everything?

2. Ben Roethlisberger called Sammie Coates out after the interception last Sunday in which Coates stopped running, allowing Dre Kirkpatrick to get the ball instead. Coates responded with some great catches. Ben did the same thing with Martavis Bryant last season, with similar results. I just read that Sammy Watkins in Buffalo is prone to inconsistent effort as well. Is there something in the mental makeup of tall, quick receivers which causes this, or is this merely coincidence?

3. What was your favorite play (or aspect) of Sunday’s game?

4. Are you concerned that the low sack totals (you could argue that the Steelers don’t have a single one yet) and high yardage given up is going to be inconsistent with winning efforts in the games to come? Do you think it is likely to change for the better?

5. Who is the player who is, for you, the most pleasant surprise so far? Who is the player in whom you are most disappointed?

You know the drill. Show your work, feel free to look at other people’s answers, and be sure to color in the little circles completely with a No. 2 pencil.


  • 1. I think full time refs would benefit the most. This would facilitate better training and ownership of the role. They are human beings and they will make mistakes, but a missed call here or there does not equate to a poor performance.

    2. That is a good question. Tall receivers like them probably never really had to fight for the ball throughout their pre-NFL careers. It seems like something that can be taught, but real game experience is probably the best tool.

    3. The Grimble (Calling him Gimbels from now on. My nana worked there and I believe made terrible towels there in the late 70’s.) Catch and TD. What an effort!

    4. Not concerned yet since the D has only allowed field goals, except in garbage time. The offense should be able to carry the team pretty far this year as well. If the lack of sacks and yardage start to turn into touchdowns and wins for our opponents, then I will start to worry.

    5. Hard to say. I think it is still too early in the season.


  • 1. I guess the gist of the question is whether there can be more of an element of professionalism in officiating, and I am not so sure that an industry that is as interested, or even more, in entertainment values rather than the integrity of the sport isn’t getting exactly what it wants. Not exclusive to football either. Michael Jordan never fouled anyone or traveled because it conflicted with the entertainment demands of displaying his play. And, btw, least we not forget, Morelli’s crew was the one who incorrectly overturned Polamalu’s interception in the 2005 playoff game against the Colts. Almost cost Pittsburgh the season.

    2. I am with mtsnot on this one.

    3. Hargrave showed me why he is the first rookie defensive lineman to start in forever. Maybe, just maybe, he might eventually be the Shazier of the D line.

    4. What the really good news is, if they stay healthy is that this season really isn’t any different from all the others. The defense, the team in general will get better with time. It just that this season, so far anyway, they won’t have to devote so much of their energy to playing catch up. I am expecting them to get better as they get more comfortable playing together and they are able to get more sophisticated and take more chances.

    5. I wasn’t expecting anything from Grimble. And getting more from Burns and Davis than I thought this early in the season, particularly given the time Burns was down in the preseason due to injury. I was tempted to say I was a little disappointed in Coates inconsistency, but I think more generally I am surprised by what I would feel is a reversal of what I would have expected in that I thought the offense would have the hot hand early and would carry the team while the defense struggled with consistency. I think it has been the opposite. The fun thing is that I believe that the return of Bell and Wheaton will almost certainly cure whatever might ail the offense. And as mentioned before, the defenses best days are still ahead of it as well, its just that it is beginning at a higher level than most of us could have imagined. I really like what this team may be capable of.


  • Toronto Steeler Fan

    1. I would go with Bill Cowher’s recommendation and get full time referees.

    2. If Coates and Bryant were good route runners, fought for the ball, and had decent hands, then they would be early first-round picks. They have holes in their game that may or may not be fixed over time, like pretty much everyone in college football, and so they drop into the 3rd/4th round.

    3. I’ll pick an odd one here. With the Steelers running the ball a lot early and with AB showing up as the punt returner on the 2nd punt (to try to get a breakaway return), it looked to me like the Steelers coaching staff decided early on that this was going to be a field position battle, and they played/called the game accordingly.

    4. They will have to show that they can play defense in multiple ways and one of those ways is to bring sustained pressure on the QB. I’m not so hung up on sacks as a stat, but pressure overall is important. Otherwise, this defense becomes one-dimensional and can be exploited by good offensive coordinators and QBs.

    5. Tight ends as a group, especially as it pertains to blocking. They’re not great at this, but they are better than I had hoped.


  • 1) Throwing money at a perceived problem is never guaranteed to solve anything. These guys already get big bucks and spent plenty of time preparing. Making them full-time would have, at best, a minimum effect. It might even make it harder to get rid of poorly performing officials.

    2) There may be a greater distance between the brain, heart, and hands of a very tall person, but I don’t believe that has anything to do with their mental make-up. Their physical stature makes them play long and loping….which magnifies things when they slow down and stop hustling. This is a very interesting question, though, because it IS so often the tall guys who seem to quit on those plays.

    3) Hargrave chasing a scatback from the Cincy 5 to the Cincy 30 before catching him (with a horse collar tackle). Nose tackles are not supposed to be able to do that. What a way to introduce yourself to the NFL! I also loved how everybody expected Boswell to nail a 49-yarder in the rain, which he did. And how D-Will caught a TD pass to give them a two TD advantage. sort of like that Le’Veon who guy used to do. There was a lot to like, but it was Hargrave that impressed me the most.

    4) Stats are for fantasy freaks. They’ve played eight back – in part to protect the two rookie DB’s. And they’ve concentrated on denying the big play. As they progress, there will be more opportunity to gamble. You may even see the rookies blitz from nowhere and get some of the bug sacks. Don’t worry at all about the yardage given up. But until they actually do get some timely sacks, I will have that gnawing feeling that they can’t get to the QB.

    5) Tight End. Outlaw and X-man. Thought this would be a weakness, but has been a strong point so far. Still worried about Outlaw’s consistency as a blocker and X-man’s consistency holding on to passes, but, wow, they’ve been great. Been most disappointed that the headache that has been Landarius Green’s headache…and bad ankle….and seasonal allergies….and whatever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In re #5, I expect you’re not nearly as disappointed as the Steelers are…


    • I agree totally with Hargrave’s tackle. My first thought watching that play is that there is nobody close by a DL…..that running back is going to run a LONG way. BUT, here comes Hargrave motoring along like it’s no big deal and takes him down. I even forgive the horse collar because that was probably yardage saved if he’s not making that play however he can.


  • Does anyone have a replay of Hargrave’s tackle? I can’t find it and my feed for the game kept screwing up so i missed it.


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