5 Smoldering Questions on the Pittsburgh Steelers: Week 11
The Pittsburgh Steelers headed into Lucas Oil Stadium heading out of their bye week, and although they appeared to end their bye week about 30 minutes later than they should have, they nonetheless triumphed over the Indianapolis Colts.
This is a short week featuring one of those dreaded Thursday night football games as the Tennessee Titans come to town. When the schedule came out most pundits marked this as a fairly straight forward win for the Steelers, but don’t look now, Mike Mularkey’s Titans are 6-3 and leading the AFC South. But before we can get into protocol planning for Dick LeBeau’s Heinz Field home coming, we must first resolve these 5 Smoldering Questions on the Steelers.
1. When the Steelers acquired Joe Haden in late August, Ross Cockrell was suddenly deemed expendable and shipped off to the New York Giants. Now that Haden will be out for several weeks at a minimum, his cornerbacking duties fall to Coty Sensabaugh. Are you comfortable with Sensabaugh as a starter, or would you prefer Ross Cockrell?
2. Tony Dungy, one commentator not given to hyperbole, recently suggested that the Steelers “struggles” (in as much as a 7-2 team struggles) come down to a question of maturity. Agree or disagree?
3. Our own Homer J, in his game recap/analysis earlier this week, noted the kerfuffle over the two-point conversion attempts. Unlike most of the people discussing this, Homer chose to demonstrate the poise and maturity displayed by Ben Roethlisberger during that sequence of events. Rather than being rushed into running the play with the wrong personnel or lineup, he took first the timeout and then the delay of game. And of course they successfully ran the play from the seven yard line in the end.
Do you agree with this positive take on the situation, or do you agree with the entire rest of the fanbase/commentators/etc. that this confirms all the things you/they have been complaining about with this year’s team? And if so, what exactly, in your estimation, are said problems? (Question by Rebecca, as you can probably tell : )
4. Early in the season it seemed to this writer’s eye that Ben Roethlisberger was trying to force the ball to Antonio Brown. If memory serves a question to that effect even found its way into this column.
The earliest opportunity to research the issue came during the bye week, and this is what the results look like:
The numbers appear to disprove the working hypothesis. Assuming you’ve agreed with the conclusion, what other insights can you glean from this data set?
5. Thursday night will be Dick LeBeau’s homecoming at Heinz Field. LeBeau of course coached for the Pittsburgh Steelers for 15 years. The Steelers know LeBeau’s tendencies well, just as LeBeau knows the Steelers coaches and their tendencies.
Which side has the advantage in the chess match?
Bonus Short Week Question:
The commenter known as Earthling left the following lengthy but fascinating comment, which has been lightly edited for brevity. Please read and chime in, yea or nay:
Here’s my theory on Ben. Ben likes to throw the ball to people he trusts and that trust may need to be earned game by game right now. He likes to look around, check out of a play and find someone else. Maybe he knows best, maybe he has donkey ears. It hasn’t entirely been a bad thing that he doesn’t seem to like Todd Haley because he loved Arians and well, I’m done with that topic. But…Ben likes to improvise, and maybe he needs receivers who know how to catch a Big Ben pass whatever that means, especially if it means compensating for some inaccuracy. All of which worked great when he had Heath Miller and AB on the field all the time. In fact it was pretty great when he had Hines Ward and Cedric Wilson. On the field, all the time…Same guys. Even if they were guys like Cedric Wilson who aren’t a household name anymore. Or Santonio Holmes who didn’t do so well after Ben. But they were Ben’s guys and it worked.
Is it my imagination or does Ben play best when he has the same receivers on the field all the time? THe same people all the time. They don’t have to be world class WR’s, just guys Ben’s developed a connection with. When Ben seems to struggle, for whatever reason, there are a lot of numbers running on and off the field right and left, perhaps for Too Clever By Half OC kind of reasons…Changing personnel. I think Ben doesn’t like it.
So in that memo you’re sending to dear Todd, please include this: just leave the really really good players we have on the field all the time. Stop running AB or MB to the sideline so you can send in Eli or switch one not great TE for another or add another TE and let Ben sort it out and get some rhythm going with the guys he’s got, whoever they are. Let Ben work it out.
Homer’s right. The best Ben thing is the calm, the way he has often been unruffled when it all looks bad. He centers the O and makes it work.