Jaguars @ Steelers: Just One of Those Days
photo via Steelers.com… I would look disgusted, too…
It’s official. Cato the Lucky Steelers Cat and I are not on speaking terms. He’s sitting on the chair across from me, back defiantly turned, ears slightly back, awaiting recriminations. It’s my contention that because he couldn’t be bothered to show up for the game until early in the fourth quarter, the Steelers lost. It’s his contention that until the Steelers offense shows up for games, there isn’t much he can do.
And you know what—he has a point.
This is not going to be long and drawn out. Nobody wants to write about a losing game, especially one in which there is so little to look upon with hope. Some days it’s just better to shrug and move on.
So instead of painfully rehashing this game, I’m going to throw some questions out there. Please, if you can, talk me down off the ledge.
1. What’s up with Ben?
We’ve had lots of excuses for the rather uninspiring play of the offense so far—Le’Veon Bell was rusty. Martavis Bryant was rusty. The offensive line was rusty. Marcus Gilbert was out. (That turned out to be a rather bigger deal than we thought.) But I at least have wanted to exonerate Ben, at least to some extent. We don’t know whether the ball was overthrown or the receiver ran the wrong route. Blah blah blah. And certainly this is going to be the case at least some of the time. But today, it’s staring us in the face. Ben made a lot of mistakes, and this time he made them against a defense opportunistic enough to take advantage of them. Big time.
2. What’s up with Martavis? Is he going to look rusty forever? There’s no point in throwing a screen to him if he is going to trip and gain three yards. Or less.
3. What’s up with—oh heck—what’s up with the whole offense? I hope to heaven the reason doesn’t turn out to be the kerfuffle over AB’s going postal with the Gatorade cooler last Sunday and Ben calling him out. AB does need to grow up. Disrespecting your coaches and your quarterback isn’t a good look. But maybe there were bigger repercussions than at least I expected from this.
Note that I’m carefully not blaming the defense. Quite honestly, I had somewhere I had to be late this afternoon, and I just turned off the computer after Ben threw pick No. 5. I note the Jaguars scored after that, and as I expected it was a long run. If I played on the defense I would have been seriously tempted to say ‘fuggitaboutit’ or words to that effect. If Ben couldn’t keep the ball they laboriously kept getting back for him, never mind. And they had two sacks of Bortles, back in the halycon times when the game was still within reach and he still had to throw the ball from time to time. Which is only one less than the Jag’s offensive line had given up in the previous four games. But it’s not that much to hang on to.
Now that I’ve gotten those questions out of my system, let’s look at a few more things:
1. Ivan texted me early this afternoon to say he was watching the game with Homer, Bill, Hombre, and Clark. I texted him back at the end of the game to suggest they never do that again. Is it possible this combination of guys was too much for the time-space continuum to handle? Could this explain today’s game?
No—I thought not. Now to more serious questions—like what happens if the Ben we saw today is what we get for the rest of the season? I think we all know the answer to this—nobody is going to be singing “Pittsburgh’s Goin’ to the Super Bowl” any time soon. The question is, will Ben have one of his bounce-back games and never look back as the Steelers win the rest of the games this season, or is this really all there is? I note Ben had the same question—the Post-Gazette is quoting him after the game as saying “Maybe I don’t have it anymore.” This scares me more than anything else.
Can you tell I’m depressed about this one? I have to say that I’m so depressed because we are wasting an incredible young defensive group (although perhaps today wasn’t their best showing) and a core of terrific offensive players—or so it would seem, anyhow, and the book is out. Shut down Le’Veon Bell, make Ben beat you with his arm, and good luck to him.
I’m going to stop now, because I don’t think any of this is helpful. I’m sure there were losses this bad during some of the Super Bowl seasons, and nobody remembered them after the Steelers hoisted the Lombardi, or even well before it. I noted that Ben’s last 4-interception game was in 2008, back before I was paying attention. How much of an impression did that leave on anybody?
And honestly, I have to remind myself that the 34-3 loss in Philly was pretty bad last year, and things didn’t get better right away, and eventually they got very much better indeed. So it’s likely I’m over-reacting.
Let’s regroup next week and hope to heaven that the Steelers can somehow beat the Chiefs, at Arrowhead, a team which hasn’t lost up to this point, [although they haven’t played the Texans yet tonight.] The Ravens won, in California. The Bengals beat the Bills’ top-rated defense. Even the Browns showed signs of life, losing by a much more respectable score than the Steelers. There’s no time to lose.