Piling it on: Ivan’s Addenda
By Ivan Cole
Photo of JuJu Smith-Schuster’s TD via Steelers.com
You’re all in luck this week. A couple of wins in a row does seem to have a remarkable effect on our creative juices…
I would highlight in neon and strobe lights Homer’s last two paragraphs. [Here they are, so you don’t have to go look them up:]
We are so damned spoiled that the Steelers can win by 17 points against a very good team with one of the best defenses in the game, and we still carp and moan like the worst bunch of yinzers.
Life is good.
We beat a playoff team by 17 points. The Steelers are 2-0 with, (knock on wood) no serious injuries or distractions. And Steeler Nation is bitching their asses off. We are a textbook case of the decadence and fragility that is the consequence of privilege. Begs the question as to whether we are no longer capable of enjoying ourselves.
Having said that, keep in mind that I am a card carrying citizen of Steeler Nation, and am not immune. Here are some thoughts:
1. We are having a hard time comprehending this concept of September football. The team is not playing at mid season, late season or post season levels. YES!! That is exactly the point. They aren’t, and so far, don’t have to in order to win. That is the nature of the gamble. This is a marathon, not a sprint. When Halloween rolls around no one is going to care how many yards Bell ran for, who caught the passes or how many penalties were amassed. 2-0 is 2-0, and wouldn’t matter whether both games were won 2-0. It’s September, we’re winning and healthy. Relax. Or would you rather be, say, Cincinnati?
2. Rust matters. It mattered that Le’Veon Bell didn’t report to the team until five minutes before kickoff of the first game. It mattered that Martavis Bryant was exiled for an entire season and was forced into limited participation until five minutes before kickoff of the first game. It mattered that the first team offense didn’t play one snap as a complete unit until the first offensive play of the first regular season game. It will take a little more than a minute to remedy that, but that, my friends, is reason for optimism, not panic.
3. Inexperience matters. The defense is so new playing together that name tags would not be inappropriate for each other and the fans. Homer, PaVaSteelers and Bill Steinbach had an interesting interlude during the game trying to figure out who #31 was (Mike Hilton), #21 (Joe Haden), and so on. And a lot of them are young guys as well. Is it possible, like the offense, that once we all realize that 31 isn’t Ross Cockrell, that they may be playing at a higher level? And they ain’t playing all that badly now.
4. Haley. Rebecca was right for the most part about my reaction to one series in particular. [That would be the empty backfield on 3rd and 2.] I didn’t scream though, didn’t have to. There were enough other people around me screaming. Todd’s play calling logic eludes and concerns me at times. Let’s just leave it at that.
5. Martavis. Yes, the Killer Bees are currently under-performing a bit, but as I related to Mike at the time, you could practically hear the Vikings say ‘Okay we’ve accounted for Ben, Bell, Brown..Wait!! Where’s Bryant? NOOOO!!!!’ And then ‘JuJu? What’s a JuJu? NOOOOO!!!’ And this is against what is by all accounts a good defense. Thank God for rust from their perspective. And Haley (Sorry, I’m just a wee bit bitter).
6. Let’s see. First round draft pick T.J. Watt is already a star after one and half games. Second round draft pick JuJu Smith-Shuster’s first reception is for a touchdown, and he also seems to be channeling Hines Ward as a hitter, and he’s just clearing his throat so to speak. Third round draft pick Cameron Sutton is in dry dock at the moment, but despite the injuries showed the possibility of maybe fitting in with his draft mates later in the season. In the meantime Mike Hilton is doing just fine ‘sharing’ time with Will Gay (something like a 90/10 split this week). Tuitt was out but Alualu is doing starter quality work. Artie Burns is beginning to understand that he has to work for a living because no one wants to throw at Haden. James Connor had one carry for nine yards, not a bad average. Think Steelers helped themselves during the off season?
7. Tyson Matekevich, special teams wiz.
8. TD celebration. Tomlin took responsibility for the delay of game penalty on the extra point. Personally, I would be okay if they had used actual dice and money. I know, I know, act like you’ve been there before, but times change. Do you you really want to go to war over this? [Not if it means lots of touchdowns : )
I would like to add something to this. When looking for a photo to head the article among the game photos posted on Steelers.com—a fantastic resource by the way—I ran across one of Joe Haden, just his face, helmet off. He had a very contemplative look, and I found myself wondering what it must feel like, what it must mean to him to be 2-0 for the first time ever in his career, now that he’s in his eighth year in the league. I was curious, and looked up the Cleveland records during his seven years there. During his tenure in Cleveland the Browns won more than two games in a row only twice, and the “streak” was capped at three in both instances. There were several years (including, of course, last season) when they never won two games in a row. And they never, ever won the first game of the season. They started every single season 0-1.
I’ll bet you Joe Haden doesn’t take a 2-0 start for granted. And neither should we… Editor