5 Smoldering Questions: Post-Thanksgiving, Pre-Giants
by Hombre de Acero
For the first time in 66 years the Steelers snapped their Thanksgiving curse. They did so in authoritative fashion, to the tune of a 28 to 7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Two convincing wins in five days, albeit over struggling teams, has led some to suggest that the Steelers have turned a corner, an important one.
The New York Giants figure to offer stiffer test this week at Heinz Field. But before taking on that challenge, this corner of Steelers Nation must first answer 5 Smoldering Questions on the Steelers. 1. Prior to the Patriot’s game, Steel City Insider’s Jim Wexell authored a column titled “Do. Your. Job.” He was drawing upon the words of Todd Haley, who reiterated that the coaches needed the players to execute their assigned tasks, and not try to be Super Heroes. Following the Colts game, both James Harrison and Ryan Shazier have argued that the Steelers new found success is because players are finally doing just that.
Is this new-found discipline a sign of successful coaching, or is that achievement mitigated by the Steelers’ collective delay in reaching this point?
2. As Ivan Cole (and many others) have noted, the Steelers’ need to platoon Eli Rogers and Cobi Hamilton opposite Antonio Brown has hamstrung the offense at times. Yet in his third appearance of the season, Ladarius Green made what Mike Tomlin describes as “field-flipping plays.”
Are you ready to declare that the threat of Ladarius Green going deep is strong enough to give the offense the complement that Antonio Brown needs to excel?
3. Mike Tomlin has declared that Bud Dupree and James Harrison will lead the Steelers depth chart at outside linebacker, while the trio of Anthony Chickillo, Arthur Moats and Jarvis Jones will vie for two spots in the second rotation.
Do you think Bud Dupree has shown enough in two games for Mike Tomlin to make this declaration?
4. On the day he retired, Dick Hoak reminded us that NFL assistant coaches are “Hired to be fired.” Often times that is true. With that in mind, the Steelers special teams have had a number of high profile foul ups, ranging from on-sides kicks, to giving up long returns, to blocked punts and being caught flat footed of fake punts.
Many “fans” would love nothing more than for Danny Smith to pay for these mistakes.
Understanding that season is still in progress, do you think criticism of Danny Smith is fair at this point in the season? [Note from Rebecca—in yesterday’s press conference Mike Tomlin specifically referenced the lack of both Shamarko Thomas and Darrius Heyward-Bey, who he described as important members of special teams. Does this mean he doesn’t feel “The Standard is the Standard” in this instance?]
5. In looking to the Giants game, I am struck by how much has changed since the last meeting against New York in 2012. In that game, a .571 (4-3) Steelers team managed a convincing road win against the defending Super Bowl Champions. (The Giants were 6-2 at the time.) Isaac Redman ran for nearly 150 yards. Mike Wallace took a 51 yard pass to the house. Willie Colon looked to be settling in as a quality, if not dominant, NFL guard.
Today only Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger, Marcus Gilbert, Ramon Foster and Maurkice Pouncey remain from that offense.
Four years later, a .545 (6-5) Steelers team will face the Giants at Heinz Field. The Steelers have changed a lot since then. But do you think have they progressed?