5 Smoldering Questions on the Pittsburgh Steelers: The Return of Hombre Edition
by Hombre de Acero
We’ve seen a lot from the 2016 Pittsburgh Steelers since I departed for my month-long road trip (which limited me to seeing 2 of the 4 Steelers games), and during that time the Steelers seem to have “found” their proverbial identify only to create far more questions in week six than they seemingly answered weeks 1-5 by getting Drowned by the Dolphins.
To add injury to the (self-inficted) insult the Steelers suffered in Miami, Ben Roethlisberger tore his meniscus leaving Landry Jones to start against the New England Patriots….. With that uplifting thought, we now turn our attention to this week’s edition of the 5 Smoldering Questions beginning with a trip to a more pleasant alternate reality from Steelers-Dolphins past.
1. Everyone who registers a pulse in Steelers Nation knows the Steelers should have drafted Dan Marino in 1983. However, had they done that, is it safe to assume that One for the Thumb would have followed much sooner, as Bryan DeArdo once argued, or is it more complicated, as yours truly countered?
OK, we ease back to reality with another hypothetical, albeit one that’s much more current….
2. News that Ben Roethlisberger would be unavailable vs. the Patriots immediately sparked recommendations that Mike Tomlin should play and perhaps even start Zach Mettenberger. Do you really think that Mettenberger belongs in the conversation?
3. After the game Antonio Brown explained:
I just couldn’t make much of a difference today. We didn’t get it in my hands a lot and we’ve got to find a way to win games, especially games we should win I don’t call the plays. I just run the plays. We didn’t get it done. No excuses.
Given the importance of maintaining unity in the locker room, do you see any red or perhaps yellow flags in Brown’s comments?
4. Getting now to the nitty gritty of what has to be one of the worst performances of the Steelers in the Tomlin era (didn’t we just say that a few weeks ago?), there’s been a lot of venting on the internet, but on Jim Wexell’s Steel City Insider site, Matt C. Steel has produced the most thought provoking one to date. I strongly encourage you to read his long form essay in full, but this passage suffices to communicate his basic point:
It all seems like decisions are made to keep the $100 million QB happy. And this loss starts with Roethlisberger. We see far too many people who live in world of comforting beliefs rather than facts. Never is that more apparent in society than during election season. Roethlisberger is no different. He “believes” he can do exactly what Tom Brady does. But he can’t. Because for whatever reason the facts are that there are 2-4 games a year when Ben looks like a completely different human being out there. He never has shown that he ever will be that consistent when it’s all on him. Most games he hums along beautifully, but then out of nowhere come games of erratic passing and decision-making. Ben doesn’t want to “believe” he never has nor ever will be as consistent as Brady. So he’s pushed and pushed to change the foundation with which this franchise built six championships. Meanwhile if seems like Todd Haley and Mike Tomlin don’t want to rock the boat of a guy who makes nearly a hundred million more than they do.
Do you think that one explanation for the Steelers continued tanking in these trap games lies with the extended autonomy Ben Roethlisberger has in the Steelers offense?
5. Back in January 2006, when the Indianapolis Colts had been anointed “The Team of Destiny” I penned an email to my cousin in Pittsburgh, explaining why “I like our chances against the Colts,” and outlined my reasons why. She politely ignored my message, and out of sympathy told me that many in Pittsburghers assumed the Steelers would lose, but didn’t mind since Dungy was a Pittsburgh guy who’d just tragically lost his son….
Monday morning she wrote to offer her congratulations and bragging rights.
As I sit here today, I can’t honestly outline a similar scenario that for victory this Sunday that doesn’t include New England suffering a rash of injuries to stars like Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski , but I wholeheartedly invite you to if you can.
There you go folks. This is an emotional time so don’t hold back. But remember, emotion must be backed by equal parts of reason.