photo via Steelers.com
By Not-Hombre de Acero
Hombre is off pottering around the world somewhere, and thus the Smoldering Mantle falls on my shoulders this week. It’s a pretty hot place to be. So let’s get this started:
1. One could scarcely even ask this question in an ordinary year, but with the big flurry of horse-trading in which the Steelers engaged just prior to the season, it’s reasonable to ponder this. After watching last Sunday’s game, if you could upgrade any one player with a modest free-agent signing, who (or which position) would it be? [For the purposes of this question we’ll assume such a player would be available to be signed.]
2. And, in a similar vein, from what you’ve seen so far, do you think the trades/signings the Steelers made just prior to the season are going to be a success? Specifically, do you prefer Haden to Cockrell, McDonald to David Johnson (since that was the effective result,) and Wilcox to, I suppose, Golden?
3. I’ve heard theories as to why the offensive line seemed to be quite effective in pass protection but not in run blocking last Sunday, including it being a silent conspiracy to punish Bell for missing training camp. Do you have any thoughts on this?
4. A number of people have been upset about the massive number of penalties the Steelers took in the first game. Do you think this was due to any of the things I’ve heard expressed, as listed?
A. Mike Tomlin runs an undisciplined team.
B. Referee bias
C. Just another problem with Le’Veon Bell’s holdout (although it wasn’t technically a holdout)
D. A result of the cutting of padded practices and meaningful pre-season games (if I may be allowed to posit the latter.)
E. Other (Please elucidate.)
5. When looking at the league-wide scores in Week 1, it struck me how few really close games there were. There were only two decided by 3 points—Steelers @ Browns and Chargers @ Broncos—and only one other decided by less than a touchdown (Falcons @ Bears.) The average difference was 10 and a half points, with the high being Colts @ Rams (in which the Rams won by 37 points. Really!)
And, curiously, four of the six games decided by more than two touchdowns were a win by the visiting team. Including, of course, the Chiefs embarrassing the Patriots. (That was unnecessary but oh so satisfying to point out…)
So do you find it worrisome that the Steelers were on the bottom end of this scale against the Browns? Or do you think it’s a matter of what Mike Tomlin calls September football?
Bonus question: Since I’m really into the trade questions, here’s a more-than-usually frivolous one—if you could trade Antonio Brown for the entire 70s Steel Curtain defensive front, just for this year, would you do it, and why or why not? If so, how would you deal with the penalties they would certainly incur?