The Return of the Hombre: 5 Smoldering Questions on the Pittsburgh Steelers
By Hombre de Acero
After getting humiliated at home by the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Pittsburgh Steelers waltzed into the living room of the Kansas City Chiefs and promptly proceeded to thoroughly dominate the NFL’s hottest team, best quarterback and top rusher for 3 and a half quarters. The Steelers of course defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, improving to 4-2 and they head back home to face the Cincinnati Bengals. But before this corner of Steelers Nation can focus on this latest AFC North show down, we first must answer these 5 Smoldering Question on the Steelers.
1. Carlos, an Argentine Steelers fan who lives above, commented to me that the NFL is so unpredictable that he’s stopped betting on games (and believe me, Carlos not betting is a big deal.) Six games into 2017, the Steelers are far from the only team to appear schizophrenic. To what do you attribute the NFL’s flirtation with manic depression, and is what’s happening in Pittsburgh just an extension of the general trend or is there something unique in the Steel City?
2. After standing on the sidelines for much of the season—on the Sundays he was lucky enough to dress—James Harrison entered the game on the final drive, and dropped Alex Smith on the penultimate play.
While T.J. Watt has done everything you could ask of a rookie, do you think James Harrison has done enough to warrant more playing time at Watt’s expense?
3. So Martavis Bryant requested a trade two weeks ago, as various outlets have confirmed, only to have Bryant face the cameras and tell us how happy he is in Pittsburgh. It says here that Bryant isn’t going anywhere, but if you’re Kevin Colbert, what offer tempts you?
4. The Pittsburgh defense currently leads the league in pass defense. This is partially due to the defensive line, but is certainly also due to the defensive backs. Curiously, the coaches haven’t changed and the scheme hasn’t changed—Pittsburgh still plays less man coverage than any team in the league, as per Pro Football Focus, in an article published yesterday. So why this sudden competence?
5. Count yours truly as one who openly suggested that Ben Roethlisberger was too dependent on Antonio Brown, so much that the analogy of Neil O’Donnell to Eric Green was rumbling around my head (oh how I date myself.) Makes sense.
Six weeks into the season Ben + Brown is the offense’s only consistent element. That’s a common perception in Steelers Nation, but the numbers tell an interesting story. Thus far this year, Brown has been Ben’s target 33% of the time, caught 35% of his passes, accounted for 46% of the team’s receiving yards and has 64.9% catch rate.
In 2015, when he was competing with Heath Miller, Markus Wheaton, Darrius Heyward Bey and Bryant, Brown was the Steeler’s quarterback’s target 33% of the time, caught 34% of the team’s receptions and accounted for 38% of the team’s receiving yards with a 70.5% catch rate.
…Is the Steelers offense, or perhaps Pittsburgh’s passing game, too dependent on Ben getting the ball to Brown?