5 Smoldering Questions: Post-Dolphins Pre-Chiefs


Via Steelers.com

By Hombre de Acero

The Pittsburgh Steelers opened the 2016 playoffs with a Wild Card win as the Killer Bees stung the Miami Dolphins to the tune of 30 to 12. The AFC divisional round will bring the Steelers to Arrowhead Stadium, where the Steelers hold a 10-7 edge but are 0-1 in the playoffs.

But before we can get to that, this corner of Steelers Nation must wrestle with these 5 Smoldering Questions on the Steelers.

1. By his own admission, Ben Roethlisberger didn’t play as well as he should have after the Steelers took the lead. My friend and sometimes Spanish language Steelers scribe Gustavo Vallegos, aka El Dr. de Acero, suggested that perhaps the fact that Le’Veon Bell was getting so many carries kept Ben from getting into a rhythm. 

Do you see any validity to this suggestion? If so is it a problem or a good problem to have?

2. Le’Veon Bell broke the Steelers single game playoff rushing record against Miami. Consider that for a second – in his very first playoff game, Le’Veon Bell outperformed the best efforts of Willie Parker, Jerome Bettis, Franco Harris or Rocky Bleier’s collective 58 playoff games.

What does that say about number 26?

3. News reports of Joey Porter’s arrest have typically come with a laundry list of off the field incidents, ranging from his getting shot outside a night club, to his bouncing a check, charges being dropped for a somewhat similar incident a few years ago. ESPN even cited his being on the field last year in the Cincinnati game.

However, the arresting officer Paul Abel also has a “checkered past” as well. Pittsburgh City Paper reporter Charlie Deitch pointed out that most of the coverage of the incident cited Porter’s previous history, but not Abel’s, and suggested they should.

Where do you come down?

4. Everyone remembers the 1993 Steelers loss at Arrowhead Stadium for Bill Cowher blowing up at Mark Royals for a blocked punt that wasn’t his fault and for that special teams disaster for opening the door to yet another Joe Montana comeback. 

Fair enough.

But that was also the last Pittsburgh Steelers game to field a defensive line that wasn’t coached by Johnny Mitchell. What do you think this 23=year tenure says about both Mitchell and the organization, and what do you think Mitchell’s greatest contribution to the franchise has been?

5. Speaking of special teams disasters, the Steelers special teams have had more than their share of hiccups in the last month and Mike Tomlin didn’t pull any punches when asked about it at his press conference.

 Do you think that there is something that can be done about the situation, or will this just need to be something the Steelers have to try to compensate for on offense and defense?


  • 1. Ben gets hot. Ben gets cold. Sometimes there’s a reason. Sometimes not. But his only consistency is inconsistency. As far as his dropoff after the first two drives Sunday, Miami stopped selling out to stop the run and maybe that had something to do with it. Also, had he gotten any hotter, he would have been in danger of melting, and we didn’t want that.

    2. Bell is special, and it also says a lot about the blocking he gets. He has an amazing ability to see a play develop and wait for the blocking to develop and the hitting the hole at just the right split-second. He and his offensive linemen (and his fullback) seem to finish each others sentences, and do so with an exclamation point. We’ve never seen anything like it.

    3. Abel’s past record puts into serious question his judgement and veracity. Porter’s past record of behavior puts a lot of things into question. There are apparently conflicting witnesses with conflicting stories. The news stories should briefly mention Abel’s past problems (the shooting of an innocent man in a case of mistaken identity and the resultant lawsuit and settlement) and leave it at that. We should all wait and see and withhold judgement on the legal matters in this case. We absolutely, positively don’t know what happened or who to believe. But Peezy put himself and the team in a bad situation. He should know better.

    4.Coach Mitch is one of the keepers of the torch. He’s a great judge of talent and a great teacher, but he’s been another Coach Dad to five generations of defensive linemen. He demands respect, earns it, and his room is where the team leaders come from. When you saw how Aaron Smith and Brett Kiesel taught Cam Heyward, and now how Cam – while injured – is working with this year’s rookie class, that shows Mitch’s greatest contribution. He has created and fostered a team first environment in his room, which allows the Steelers to pass the torch from generation to generation. Roll Tide, Coach Mitch! Roll Tide.

    5.The biggest problem with special teams may well be the number of injuries to key players. Shamarko and Hey-Bey were keys to coverage. So the key to making special teams better is to get as many of those guys healthy and with a hat this week as possible. Special teams are a KC strongpoint and the Steelers’ achilles’ heel, so this scares the hell out of Homer.


    Liked by 1 person

  • This right here says a lot about Mitchell…


  • 1) I’m convinced there’s a mechanical issue affecting Roethisberger’s throws. Even when he seems “on”, he’s often high or slightly behind his receivers. The problem with this theory is when he’s “on”, his passes are (to DHB for example) a thing of beauty….maybe it’s not his arm, but his head; throwing into double or triple coverage. At what point do the coaches, and Steeler Nation, consider the “gunslinging” to be reckless?

    2) We are witness to another phenomenal player wearing the Black & Gold. All we need is a competent, serviceable backup QB for those times BR is hurt (or has retired), and one major component of our offense will not miss a beat.

    3) Given the climate in America’s society today, I absolutely support equal reporting and consideration on the performance history of any LEO on any incident. What I found interesting in the Officer’s report was only the adjective “black” was used to describe individuals directly or indirectly involved. We don’t know whether the doorman was White, Asian or Hispanic; we don’t know whether any bystanders were White, Asian or Hispanic; we only know that there were “black” individuals involved.

    4) Talent, professionalism and consistency. That’s Mitchell’s contribution to the organization, and it’s a mirror of the organization. Another “unsung hero” of the history of the Steelers.

    5) Even termination Danny Smith today won’t fix what needs fixing. The Steelers will have to address the coaching of Special Teams after they win in February….but it needs to be fixed.


  • 1. If Ben plays well Pittsburgh will probably win. If Le’Veon plays well the Steelers will definitely win. I think that sums it up.

    2. We are, of course, a very long way from the full story being told, but the potential exists that fifty years from now folks will regale the youngins’ with stories about what it was like to watch the legendary Le’Veon Bell emerge on the scene. If he is fortunate to maintain good health and a decent head then we are blessed to be witnesses to the dawning of true greatness.

    3. Even if he is totally in the right, Joey has to be smarter because he has more to lose. The only question at this point is whether he gets off lucky, just a hit to his reputation, or his career.

    4. I think the Steelers’ staff from Tomlin on down doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves. The downside of an organizational culture of humility. If Pittsburgh makes it to the big game, a lot of credit goes to both Mitchell and tight ends coach James Daniels getting second line level players to the point of being able to successfully compete.

    5. We forget that the key for some people to make the team is the ability to shine in the third phase (special teams) of the game. At various times the Steelers have been without Shamarko Thomas, Hey-Bey, Robert Golden, Rosie Nix, Vince Williams, Sammie Coates and others. If the offense or defense had those number of losses there wouldn’t be any conversation about whether or not the concepts or schemes were at fault.


  • 1. Your buddy is probably wrong about rhythm. Ben’s problem is between his ears. He throws interceptions. He throws quite a lot compared to the other great QB’s playing the game today. This year Ben has 29 TD’s with 13 INT’s. Tom Brady has almost the same number of TD’s ,28 with only 2 INT’s. Yes two! (I hate him) Arron Rodgers has a whopping 40 TD’s with only 7 INT’s. Ben is still a great QB though. He’s the guy I want in there when the pocket breaks down.
    2. Bell has power and vision, and is a supreme talent both running and receiving. He routinely makes something out of nothing. If the defense gives him a little something he can turn that into pure gold. When other backs give you two yards Bell will give you four. What a weapon to have. We better keep him.
    3. Perspective is a funny thing. How about the truth.
    4. The formula works for the head coach so the other coaching positions should be no different.
    5. Let’s hope the guys that have a hat this week play solid on punts. I heard Jarvis Jones is a new addition so that may help. Place the kickoffs in the back of the end zone and the punts out of bounds or close to it. Field position will be a huge factor in this game.


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