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

20 comments

  • cold_old_steelers_fan

    Another great article. I would just like to add:

    2) There were a lot of snowflakes being triggered by the sight of some rust. The rust should be gone soon enough (hopefully by the Ravens game) so they can stop shivering.

    4) I cursed the bubble screens till I saw a fake bubble screen used to mask a run on 3rd and short in the Vikings game. Now I am thinking that Haley is playing a longer game than we are.

    Like

    • Love your comment on 4). I think this idea about ‘playing a longer game’ is worth exploring further (although we have touched on aspects of it before) and I’m going to give it some thought.

      Like

    • Seen the term “Snowflake” for a while now, after seeing you use it, finally looked up its definition. Maybe it is an urban versus flyover thing, but as a man who enjoys talking with children and teenagers, I don’t see it being true around here.

      Erased the rest of the comment. Not going to steal threads at Rebecca’s site. The main reason I looked up the term up was that I respect Cold Old’s opinion so much.

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      • cold_old_steelers_fan

        Leaving out the pejorative political baggage that often accompanies the “snowflake” appellation, I use it to denote people who are easily triggered by minor things. I know others use it differently.

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  • Ivan, you are SOOOO right about September football. The CBA limits summer practice. The starters don’t see much action in the pre-season games, because you don’t want to risk injury or wear them out before the long season. And National Turk Day, when the rosters are trimmed from 90 to 53 on a single day, means big roster changes just a few days before the opener.

    There is no way teams are ready for the opener they way they used to be. Teams are very much a work in progress. And with Bell’s holdout, the addition of Haden and Willcox, and the play of rookies Watt and JuJu, it’s quite the experience to watch the Steelers mature and solidify right before our eyes.

    Writers and sportstalk yakkers talk about everything under the sun, but I’ve heard very little meaningful discussion about how September football ain’t what it used to be. You pointed that out while watching the game last week, using the term “September football.” And you were spot on.

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    • I’ll tell you where you can hear about “September football” – on Steelers.com, when Bob Labriola and Tunch Ilkin get to talking. Probably a good subject for a post.

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  • As I was reading this article, this thought popped up into my head; articles here are written like well drafted, long, and heartfelt commentary on another site I attend. The comments that get a high number of recommendations, because users are able to connect to the information while also being moved by the content. Too often when I read about the Steelers it is all facts and data, here we get the human touch. Very nice!

    Yes, I griped about Todd Haley during most of the first half against the Browns. But really don’t understand the dislike many Steelers’ fans have toward Haley, he has transformed the Steelers offense into one of the most dynamic in the league all while keeping Ben on his feet. I for one am very happy that Todd Haley is the Steelers Offensive Coordinator.

    Liked by 3 people

  • I watched the game with a passionate Haley hater, but even he was smiling. Oh wait, that’s because Todd got knocked on his bum. 🙂

    I spent most of the game wriggling in my seat and making sounds like this: tee hee, tee hee, this is what it looks like when you’re shaping up to be something really special. Tee hee. I tried to keep it to myself, so as not to irk karma or lady luck or whatever decides to throw a monkey wrench into your game plan but…tee hee.

    All those glimpses of possible greatness and from so many players, not just the stars. (And so many stars!) Hilton, DIrty Red, Connor. Eli. Eli? I didn’t even remember he was on the team.

    And yes, it was hard at first to remember who some of those numbers now belong to. Game 1, No. 50 shot across the screen and my brain said: Larry Foote?! Larry Foote never moved that fast in his life. 94 kept causing me to look up the roster as well. By the end of the game, I’d caught up.

    I too was glad to see Tomlin take the blame for the delay of game. Bryant waved his teammates over so they could do that silly craps game together. Together. That was my takeaway. Good kids celebrate together. Good coaches, well, do what Tomlin does..

    I read somewhere that Joe Haden is excited to be blitzing the QB. I think you’re right, Rebecca, and he’s just pretty darn happy about everything.

    I’ve been watching a bunch of the 2004 games and having fun catching glimpses of their future greatness. I hope this is going to turn out the same way. Some bumps and rough patches still ahead but..

    Tee hee.

    Earthling

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fumny you thought of Larry Foote when you saw 50. I do the same thing. Seeing 51 will always make me think of Farrior first. I told Ivan on Sunday that it usually takes me until around week 5 before I have the new players/numbers figured out.

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      • Also funny. When I think of 50, I think of Larry Foote but I also immediately think of Farrior at 51. It doesn’t work the other way around, though. When Foote was gone, I didn’t think of him once. After Farrior retired, I still thought about him when I noticed Foote/50 on the field. I still miss Potsie. I can’t say the same of Foote.

        Earthling

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    • cold_old_steelers_fan

      Eli Rogers is growing on me. I wasn’t very fond of him at first, characterizing him as a soft possession receiver but he keeps getting better. Now, if only Ben would remember that Rogers isn’t 6’4″.

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  • “We are a textbook case of the decadence and fragility that is the consequence of privilege.” That is such a beautifully succinct summation that I am committing it to memory so I can quote you.

    You aren’t kidding about how many new guys are playing! For the first time in I don’t know how long I have had to watch the game with the roster up in a separate window so I can act like I already know everything in game threads (the Internet is truly a godsend for posers like yours truly).

    Like

  • Thanks. Kind sentiments.

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  • Pingback: Playing the Long Game | Going Deep:

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