5 Smoldering Questions on the Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 12
The Green Bay Packers arrived in Pittsburgh as two-touchdown underdogs and, in keeping with the tone and tenor of everything thus far this season, the game would of course go down to the wire as the Steelers pulled out a 31-28 win over the Packers thanks to Chris Boswell’s record-tying field goal.
Next week brings the Patrio… er um, sees the Steelers take the road to Cincinnati to face off against their AFC North rivals, the Bengals. But before Steelers Nation can cross its fingers and clutch its rosary beads ahead of their next encounter with Vontaze Burfict we must first resolve these 5 Smoldering Questions on the Steelers.
1. Ok, let’s begin by addressing Mike Tomlin’s decision to acknowledge the elephant in the room, namely that the Steelers and Patriots are the class of the AFC and that their match up with the at Heinz Field month will likely determine the playoff pecking order.
First, do you think Tomlin’s departure from “coach speak” either indicates a lack of focus or a lack of respect towards the Bengals and Ravens?
Second, regardless of your feelings on the first part of this question, do you worry that Tomlin might be tempting fate by engaging in a little of what Art Rooney Sr. might have termed “Putting on the dog?”
Defend your answer.
2. Martavis Bryant saw his first duty as a kick returner on Sunday night and provided the Steelers longest kick return of the season. Mike Tomlin has indicated he might get more chances there. Do you think it is wise for the Steelers to risk their defacto number 2 receiver on return duties?
3. A week ago I invited readers elsewhere to vote on game ball winners for the Steelers win over the Titans. Given that the Steelers offense had exploded for 40 points, Todd Haley’s name was on the ballot, and multiple votes were allowed. You can see the results here:
While this sample is in no way representative of the rest of Steelers Nation, do you agree with the decision of the voters to give Todd Haley a gigantic collective cold shoulder?
4. Since Joe Haden left the game against the Colts the Steelers defense has given up touchdown passes of 61 yards, 60 yards, 75 yards, 39 yards, 54 yards and 55 yards. Or, in slightly more sophisticated mathematical terms, the Keith Butler’s boys have allowed one 57 yard touchdown pass in ever 27 and half minutes of play. (In truth, the average is worse for the Steelers, since the first bomb came at the tail end of the 2nd quarter against the Colts.)
What’s going on and is this a problem that can be fixed if and when Joe Haden returns to the lineup?
5. A commonly held assumption is that the Steelers draft outside linebackers to pressure the quarterback, yet neither Bud Dupree nor T.J. Watt is close to leading the Steelers in sacks.
However, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Ray Fittipaldo argues that the Keith Butler is using the duo as much in coverage as he is as pass rushers.
While this makes a certain sense, and Fittipaldo’s article is extremely well reported, we must also keep in mind that in 2015 and 2016 Steelers Nation was treated to continual leaks from the coaching staff about how Jarvis Jones was doing extremely well in run defense and coverage despite his low sack totals.
Do you think something similar might be at work here, particularly with Bud Dupree who is now in his third season?
You know the drill from here on out. Use only No. 2 dark pencils but do not use Faber Castells. You must show work to get full credit and looking at your neighbor’s paper is not only allowed, its encouraged.
Have at it.