by Homer J
Laundry doesn’t win games, but Landry does, sometimes.
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
The Steelers won their seventh straight game Sunday, having clinched the AFC North title a week earlier, and resting their All-pro QB, All-pro running back, All-pro receiver, All-pro Center, and the heart and soul of their defense. Nobody got seriously hurt, and the team heads into the playoffs healthier than they’ve been in months.
It was Fan Appreciation Day, and yet many fans didn’t seem to appreciate it.
The overtime win over the hapless Cleveland Browns was sort of like winning second place in the Ugly Girl Contest. You didn’t know whether to say thank you or blank you.
Jason Bridge/USA Today Sports
Links for the other articles in the series can be found at the bottom of the page.
Before last Friday’s game I would have said that the wide receiver situation was entirely straightforward. Antonio Brown is the unquestioned No. 1, and Markus Wheaton is the No. 2, as he’s better on the outside than in the slot anyhow. The No. 3 is Sammie Coates, and the Nos. 4 and 5 are Eli Rogers and Darrius Heyward-Bey, in whichever order.
After Sammie Coates had a seriously disappointing game, has this changed? Actually I don’t think so, unless he continues to struggle in game action. My guess is, like quite a few of the youngsters, he was trying too hard. In camp he makes it look effortless. Obviously, if he can’t translate the stuff he does on the practice field into game action, that’s another story. But he already has a nice track record in admittedly a very small sample size, in not only NFL games but playoff games.
Gene J. Puskar/AP photo
Steelers/Lions is in the books, and the usual stuff happened.
Bruce Gradkowski got injured (hamstring) after a three-and-out and a drive featuring two first downs. He played a total of ten snaps. Hopefully it’s not a big deal, but I wrote “out for the season” in my notes. We’ll see.
An offensive lineman got injured, and although he walked off the field by himself it didn’t look great. It was Brian Mihalik, AKA Alejandro Villanueva 2. He is another defensive lineman cut by the Eagles, signed by Pittsburgh, and converted to an offensive lineman. As it happens, he’s also 6’9″. Weird.
Ross Ventrone left with a hamstring injury, the same thing that got him cut last season.
It was that kind of night.
Photo: Jon Shapley, staff, Houston Chronicle
Unlike the majority of the Steelers’ picks, Ayers wasn’t even on my radar in the lead-up to the draft. This was hardly his fault, of course, so let’s remedy this right away! Once again I’ll begin with the material from the NFL scouting report and continue on from there.
The NFL evaluators graded Ayers at 5.02 and projected him as a UDFA. I’m not going to get crazy with the numbers like I did yesterday, but I’ll just note that there were 16 guys graded lower than Ayers who were picked up in the 4th, 5th, and 6th rounds.
Ayers declared for the draft a year early, which led to the following comment in the “Sources Tell Us” section:
“Should have gone back to school and worked on his craft. Right now I don’t think he can distinguish himself enough from others at that same position. I need to see those system guys transcend the scheme and I didn’t see it.” — NFL personnel director