photo via Steelers.com
By Hombre de Acero
While the Steelers 2018 off-season has reached its second week, much of the discussion in Steelers Nation is still on looking back as opposed to focusing on how the franchise can pick upself up off the slag heap that is 2017.
With that in mind, we give you our 5 Smoldering Should Be in the Super Bowl But Not Questions on the Steelers.
1. Mike Tomlin led the AFC to a last minute 24-23 come back over the NFC in the Pro Bowl, and by doing so he improved the modern era Steelers head coaches Pro Bowl record to a perfect 8-0, as streak which includes wins over 4 Super Bowl winning coaches (Buddy Parker was the lone loser in 1957, for those who MUST know.)
Does this factoid:
a) Validate the legacy of coaching excellence the Steelers have enjoyed, given the size of the sample, time span considered, the quality of the opposing coaches and the relative equality of talent between the AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters?
b) Or is it something that will only prove useful should you make it to Final Jeopardy and the category is “Steelers in the Pro Bowl”?
Make a choice and defend it as if it were one of Johnny Mitchell’s lineman tasked with defense of one of Mike Tomlin’s proverbial blades of grass.
2. Irrespective of your answer to question number one, the Pro Bowl gave Steelers Nation its first glimpse of a Randy Fichtner-coordinated offense, NFL.com’s Jeremy Bergman observed:
It was especially sad to watch Randy Fichtner ring in his first game as Steelers offensive coordinator in the Pro Bowl, calling double reverses for Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown and simple routes for Ben Roethlisberger to underthrow.
It’s fair to wonder how much will change next season in the Steel City. Will Bell leave in free agency? Will Roethlisberger hint at retirement again? Will Fichtner force Big Ben to run a sneak? On Sunday, we got an answer to at least one of these quandaries. On third-and-1 from the NFC 39 with Roethlisberger under center, Fichtner called … a dive to Roosevelt Nix. Some things don’t change.
Do you agree with Jeremy Bergman’s observation and is it a legitimate cause for concern?
3. In diagnosing the post-Shazier decline of the Steelers’ 2017 defense, a number of commentators pointed to the fact that his back up, Tyler Matakevich, also got injured against Cincinnati. Do you think a healthy Tyler Matakevich would have made a difference down the stretch?
4. By the time we get to our free agency edition of the 5 Smoldering Questions, the Le’Veon Bell situation will likely have clarified itself. So let’s jump the gun and cut right to the chase. Should the Steelers:
a. Try to sign Bell before the Franchise tag is due?
b. Use the franchise tag if signing him is not possible?
c. Let him test the market but be ready to make a competitive offer?
d. Simply let him walk and attempt to reload via the draft or going with the current backs on the roster.
There are arguments for and against all four options, and each choice carries significant risk as well as opportunity costs for the Steelers. What should they do?
5. The loss to the Jaguars was devastating to fans, as no one saw it coming. Yet, Jim Wexell insisted a few days after that the arrow on the Steelers was still pointing up. That prompted me to observe that, for as bad as the loss was, it didn’t have type of “era ending” feel that say the Tebowing in Denver did a few years ago….
…But on second thought, the 1997 AFC Championship loss to Denver didn’t seem to signal the end of the Cowher-Donahoe Steelers status as contenders, but it did.
The reasons for that of course were tied to decisions made after that fateful AFC Championship loss, and not the game itself.
With that in mind, knowing that Ben Roethlisberger is coming back, what other decisions must the Steelers make to keep their Super Bowl window open for 2018?
This will be the final 5 Smoldering’s edition for the Steelers 2017 season. As in past season we’ll have future edition for the draft and free agency and/or as events warrant.
Until then thanks go out to everyone who took time to contribute to the conversations, and a big Thank You to Rebecca and everyone else who helped construct questions during times when travel prevented me from coming up with my own. Thank You.