By Ivan Cole
If you are interested enough, the entire football year can be endlessly intriguing. As we move into the second week of OTAs it is still far too early to make much sense of where the Steelers stand in relation to securing that seventh championship this season, but enough of the puzzle pieces are in place to allow for some educated speculation.
Injuries and other handicaps
In past seasons the team often struggled with a high volume of injuries. As Head Coach Mike Tomlin has said, the injury rate in the National Football League is 100 percent, therefore it has been tempting to throw one’s hands in the air and declare that it is all just a matter of luck as to how things work out.
A few years ago, Art Rooney II threw the gauntlet down and declared the organization’s intention to get a better handle on the situation. It sounded at the time like Owner Speak, putting an optimistic face on a problem that was really beyond the capacity to influence.
photo via Steelers.com/ Karl Roser
I won’t repeat my rather ambling preamble to the first post—feel free to read it if you’ve got a cup of coffee and some extra time. Let’s get right to it:
There was fairly general agreement among those writing about the Steelers’ likely draft, at least among those who are actually knowledgeable about the Steelers, that the Steelers would take a wide receiver at some point, maybe even as high as the 2nd or 3rd round. While it wasn’t exactly a major point of need, there were a couple of factors driving it—first, Martavis Bryant wouldn’t be with the team in 2019, and second, the Steelers like to do that.
The vast majority of readers of this post are aware, I suspect, of two things—1) Momma’s Mock Drafts® rely on a unique metric (Best-Looking player Available) because Momma can’t be bothered with college football and 2) in the end, Momma loves a well-developed character more than a well-turned ankle, or whatever it is Momma is checking out.
Last year Momma had the thrill of several of her selections being taken by the Steelers, including first-round pick T.J. Watt. That appears to have been a slam-dunk for both Momma and the Steelers. This year, on the other hand, the Steelers took none of Momma’s picks, even when they coincided with the guys the “experts” said they would likely take. Not a single one.
And speaking of the “experts,” do check out Steel Curtain Rising, Hombre de Acero’s site, as he’s getting ready to post his assessment of the draft—the 2013 draft, that is. As Hombre says, if Chuck Noll thought you needed five years to properly assess a draft class, that’s good enough for him. It should be pretty hilarious, at least if you prefer sticking one to the draft experts above having, you know, really good players… It isn’t up yet as I write this, but is going up soon.
By Ivan Cole
Since last we met on this topic the personnel situation has advanced significantly. The draft has occurred, free agents signed and a significant trade. How have these developments advanced the narrative?
A quarterback controversy
I don’t believe that we have had a full-blown version of this phenomena during the Ben Roethlisberger era, although there has been some drama and conversation surrounding back- ups. But the drafting of Mason Rudolph has impacted the entire quarterback room and will likely be a focus of conversation for years to come, regardless how the situation unfolds.
The current bottom-line as I understand it now is that unless there is an injury/IR circumstance like the one that unfolded during the 2010 season when Ben, Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwich and Dennis Dixon were all on the roster, when the 2018 edition of the Steelers begins play in September one the players in that room, Ben, Rudolph, Landry Jones or Joshua Dobbs, will be gone. What should we look for going forward?