5 Smoldering Questions:AFC Championship Edition
by Hombre de Acero
The Steelers 2016 mystery ride came to a screeching halt to the tune of a 36 to 17 loss to the Patriots in yet another AFC Championship game. The Steelers now face another long off season where they must make decisions on several high-profile free agents.
But before we shift focus to the 2017 off season, this corner of Steelers Nation must first resolve these 5 Smoldering Questions on the 2016 Steelers season.
1. All season long we’ve asked questions about the man in the No. 2 wide receiver spot opposite Antonio Brown. To their credit, Cobi Hamilton and Eli Rogers did well during the regular season and early in the playoffs, but after that Patriots game, Ben Roethlisberger questioned whether they were ready for such a big stage.
Do you agree with Ben’s assessment, and do you think it was appropriate for him to express it so publicly?
2. It’s been clear for quite some time that the Steelers were planning, for better or for worse, to ride Le’Veon Bell as deep has he could take them into the playoffs. Given that he broke back-to-back Steelers playoff records going into the Patriots game, one could hardly dispute such logic.
However, we now know that both Bell and the coaching staff knew he was nursing some sort of a groin injury during the season. With that knowledge in mind, do you think the team’s reliance on Bell was wise?
3. Mike Tomlin has as much admitted that he and his coaches considered adopting a man-coverage scheme but rejected the idea because they didn’t have personnel to execute it. Several of the more intelligent commentators have validated that conclusion.
Given that Tom Brady has thrown 19 touchdown passes and zero interceptions against the Steelers in regular season games during the Mike Tomlin era, do you think the Steelers would be wise to adjust their personnel acquisition philosophy with an eye towards beating Brady?
4. Mike Tomlin explained the Steelers’ loss as a failure to execute. The “Fire Everyone” crowd is of course responding by bringing up any number of data points which contradict this, some of which are legit, some of which are not.
Honestly speaking, do you think the Steelers could have done anything on the field or off it to make this game a serious contest?
5. The conventional wisdom that is that Ben Roethlisberger will be back in 2017, despite his statements to the contrary. Still, what does Ben publicly mentioning his private discussions represent, and how should the Steelers react?