5 Smoldering Questions: The Division Champions Edition

img_0587By Hombre de Acero

Wow, perhaps the only thing missing from Pittsburgh Steelers 31-24 victory over the Baltimore Ravens is the fact that Father Time has will rob future generations of hearing it narrated by voice of NFL Films legend John Facenda.

The Steelers victory was dramatic, drawing as much from contributions from the lower ends of the depth chart as it did from its stars. It earned the Steelers the number 3 seed in the AFC playoffs, which the Ravens will watch from home.

But before the Steelers can test their mettle in the post season they must finish with 2016 with a visit from the Cleveland Browns. And before that this corner of Steelers Nation must wrestle with these 5 Smoldering Questions on the Steelers. 

1. Can anyone attempt to offer any insight into how Ben Roethlisberger went from throwing two God-awful interceptions in the third quarter to playing some of the best football of his life in the 4th quarter?

2. The Steelers won this game with Eli Rogers, Cobi Hamilton playing below Antonio Brown and by starting L.T. Walton and an injured Ricardo Mathews on the defensive line. What does that tell you?

3. In the not too distant past, we asked the community here what was necessary to heal the open sore that defines Terry Bradshaw’s relationship with the franchise and the fan base. Perhaps Homer J. put it best  when he declared:

Terry will probably never make a true homecoming. And, even if he wanted to, it would be difficult because of his Sunday duties on Fox. He’d need to come to Pittsburgh and be on the sidelines for a Monday night game, or he’d need to come to Canton for the next Steeler HOF induction. Or he’d need to come to Pittsburgh to help out a major local charity event. There’s a light in the window and the door is unlocked. But it’s up to him, and I don’t think – for whatever reasons – that’s he’d be comfortable. He’s not coming.

With that in mind however, what is the appropriate response to Terry Bradshaw’s attack on Mike Tomlin?

4. Mike Tomlin has already signaled his plan to sit a number of starters for this game, reminding everyone that Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell have never played in the post season together. Fair enough.

On the flip side, the Steelers have a number of players who’ve been nursing injuries, such as Sammie Coates, DeAngelo Williams and Darrius Heyward-Bey. 

Should Steelers make sure to get those men some live fire snaps or would they be better off by let the healing process continue until the playoffs?

5. Given that the Steelers decided to deactivate Jarvis Jones for the Ravens game and the fact that James Harrison is 38 going on 39, do you think the Steelers should try to work in Anthony Chickillo at right outside linebacker during the Browns game?

There you have it folks. Just because we’re in the holiday season doesn’t change the rules. You must show your work to get full credit, but looking at your neighbor’s paper isn’t simply allowed, its encouraged.

 

8 comments

  • 1. No insight. Just Ben being Ben.

    2. It tells me that we have a deep very talented team. That said, it remains to be seen how far we can go without Heyward, Wheaton, Bryant and perhaps Tuitt. The return of Green and a healthy Sammie may be enough on offense. At minimum, I think Tuitt’s return is a must to go deep into the playoffs.

    3. Turn off the light. He’s already started me thinking about locking the door.

    4. I think the WRs would benefit from some snaps, but I would keep my insurance policy Deangelo, in a safe place..

    5. Whether it’s Chickillo or Moats, it’s for auditions on the right side. it’s pretty clear that Jones is toast unless he’s re-signed at a very small number. Even then, he’s a long shot to start. I rarely give up on a player, but it’s hard to see Jarvis as anything but an ex-Steeler

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  • Good questions. Here’s Homer’s take:

    1. It just happens. Ben can be streaky, and sometimes it takes one play – one pass – to turn things around. That, and going to no huddle, pass-first, when the situation demands. Also, the Ravens defense had been stout but they’d taken a physical beating by the fourth quarter. They weren’t as fresh as they had been.

    2.The bottom of the Steelers’ roster is perhaps the best in the NFL. As Coach says, “football is a game of attrition.” And, from the organized team activities in the spring, the emphasis is on finding the best guys to fill the bottom of the roster – guys who can step in and contribute when injuries strike. Loser teams spend big bucks and big attention on high-priced free agents. The Steelers spread it around. That way, even when you lose your 2,3,4, and 5 wide receivers, you can still have an Eli Rogers, Cobi Hamilton and DeMarcus Ayers contributing BIG TIME on the biggest game-winning drive in years. The bottom of the roster and next man up may be the best story of the year. (PS: I see they just added Mercyhurst back to the PS! Yay!)

    3. The light that was on in the window for Bradshaw? It’s not there any more. I am convinced by the response of the Steeler organization and team that they’ve had it with him. His being in nearby Washington, PA but skipping Chuck Noll’s funeral and not meeting with Marianne was still a very sore wound for many. And now this. He’s worn out his welcome. Period. He’ll have to come back on his hands and knees, begging for forgiveness. And that might not even work. Terry who? TERRY WHO???

    4.Well, they’ll have to have 11 guys out there on every play, so some of those guys are gonna have to play. And it would be good to let them have their reps. My concern, as always, with Landry Jones at QB is that he throws soft and high, and guys who stretch out to catch those throws get killed. I want to see me some Zach Mittenberger handing off to D’Will and Fitz, and taking the full 40 seconds between plays. Anybody who goes out of bounds gets fined two dollars. Run the clock and pray for no injuries.

    5. Yep. Chick has shown a lot of promise this year. He was drafted as a project, changed positions, and his development has been solid. He’s not there yet, and he has positional flexibility and adaptability, which, as Coach says, it a good ability. We don’t know what he’s growing into, but he sure looks like he can contribute as an edge rusher. Hell, he looked like it at Latrobe, when he was kicking butt all over the place in the one-on-ones.

    Happy New Year, everyone!

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  • Toronto Steeler Fan

    1. I think Ben’s accuracy problems are due principally to the fact that he is throwing a lot of footballs to a lot of guys that he has not thrown to before this season – guys like Rogers, Green, Hamilton, etc. (and also due to his knee injury, which may still be bothering him a bit). When you see the interceptions, they are often due to the fact that a receiver turned the wrong way, or got to a spot too late or too early. You almost never see Ben make such throws to Brown or Bell. All the passes he threw to AB in Q4 were deadly accurate. The ones he threw to James and Rogers were not, but still caught.

    2. Next man up is working….

    3. Bradshaw is the kid who never grew up. He is what he is and Tomlin’s response was appropriate.

    4. I’d play as few of the expected playoff starters as I could get away with, and avoid injury at all costs. If Coates and DHB are both ready to play, I’d play them to get them some snaps (esp. Coates, who needs some confidence building). Toussaint is my RB, but maybe DWill gets a few carries in there.

    5. As for the OLBs, I’d play Jarvis Jones to let him audition for a job somewhere next year. Split Moats and Chickillo at the other position. Keep Harrison and Dupree on the sidelines.

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  • 1. As I said yesterday, it kind of reminded me of Ben’s play in the Superbowls. I think he gets a little jittery in big games and has to take a minute to calm down. But when push comes to shove he’s the guy I want behind center bar none.
    2. Yeah, I guess the coach and GM have been doing a pretty good job after all. I don’t hear people talking so much about bad drafts and lack of talent any more.
    3.Bradshaw is the weird uncle of the Steeler nation who says inappropriate things. But we love him anyway. I remember him saying he thought he was going to be booed when he was introduced at a game a while ago, which shows how tenuous his grasp of reality is. Everytime he does the highlights on Fox it’s a highwire act as to exactly how he’ll mess up or blow up. But that’s entertainment, right? I thought Tomlin handled it the way he does everything, with grace, class and sneaky humor.
    4. I trust Tomlin here too. Certainly no Ben, Bell or Brown. Rest anyone who is nicked up at all. But a Coach pointed out, he doesn’t have that big pre-season roster to work with.
    5. Let Jarvis play. Making him inactive would just be rubbing salt into the wound.

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  • 1. You could attribute Ben’s interceptions on Sunday to a variety of causes, effective half-time adjustments by the Ravens and unfamiliar receivers among them. Fact is, though, that Ben has never been particularly careful with the football. As a rookie, I compared him to Favre and Elway, who were also guys who refused to give up on a play and were often brilliant, but also gave away the football at times. He’s a gunslinger not a game manager, and to me the Ravens game is just him showing why that’s both good and bad.

    2. Earlier this year I questioned this team’s grit, against Philly and Miami it seemed like they gave up when the chips were down, like a team that only plays well when they’re ahead. I’m glad to say this week they proved me wrong. Tuitt coming back will be a huge boost to the defense. Green coming back would really lift the offense, but I’m not holding my breath given his history. Having either DHB or Coates (if he can return to his early season form) would help add that vertical dimension to the offense that could be particularly lethal in combination with a running game that is forcing teams to put 8 men in the box.

    Looking beyond this year, it also says that this team should contend next year as well. Keep in mind we essentially have 3 extra high draft picks with Bryant, Gilbert, and Golson potentially contributing next year.

    3. No response is necessary. One doesn’t respond to the media making absurd comments to draw viewers.

    4. I think you definitely want to keep anyone who is injured out of action as much as possible against the Browns. You can prepare in practice, and it’s not like these guys haven’t played football all year. There’s only one way to heal, though, and that’s to rest.

    5. I want to see Chickillo play as much as he can. Jarvis Jones is a 4 year veteran and one more game isn’t going to change any team’s mind about him. I don’t think we owe him the opportunity to raise his FA value because no such opportunity exists. We don’t know exactly what we have in Chickillo yet, though, and I want to see him on the field gaining experience and showing what he can do.

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  • 1. Didn’t get to watch the game, normally his footwork is his undoing.

    2. Coaching. Every team in the league has talent that is roughly as good as our depth. Those guys aren’t future stars by any measure. But ever since Tomlin came here we have had players step up like this. Now we have a lot of position coaches that are doing great work, and we see it more. Tomlin has players believing that they might not be good enough over a season, but today they can do it.

    3. Meh. Rod Woodson was a big part of winning a Super Bowl with the Ravens, Bettis said the team was doing him wrong, Hines Ward threatened to hold out and complained when we drafted receivers. I couldn’t care less about any of that. Terry did his job as a Steeler. Whatever he does after that those Super Bowl wins aren’t tainted or altered. I don’t hold expectations that players will love this team like I do, Terry hasn’t cashed a paycheck from this team in over 30 years, he doesn’t have to love the Steelers, he doesn’t have to be nice to us, or fair or even sane. His legacy is written, it is finished, he can’t tarnish it now.

    4. Scrub Game. I want to see someone pull a Willie Parker and light up the Browns.

    5. More Chickillo! Seriously this is a game we need bodies for, let the young guys go crazy out there and rest everyone we can.

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