By Ivan Cole
It’s hard to argue with 4-0, though we know that some will manage to overcome this challenge. As we pass through the first weekend in November and into the second half of the season the September stench has dissipated considerably. The landscape has changed dramatically in Pittsburgh, the AFC North and around the league. Indeed, when both football and non-football occurrences are considered, who could have predicted where we find ourselves as we enter the heart of the holiday season.
In the NFC the Rams are proving themselves the class of the conference, if not the whole league. As Philadelphia suffers a particularly harsh Super Bowl hangover, Washington emerges as the Beast of the East. Similarly, another team with high expectations, Atlanta, has yielded to more robust divisional rivals in New Orleans and Pittsburgh’s Thursday night opponent, Carolina. The Bears impress in the North.
In the AFC the Patriots appear to continue to have an unfair advantage in that they are spotted six victories due to their inept divisional rivals. Jacksonville show themselves to be paper Jaguars as the Texans surge. That loss to the Chiefs looks more forgivable with every passing week.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/Matt Freed
These are mostly my random thoughts, but I will begin with Ivan Cole’s email. Although neither of us are known for being particularly succinct, it was a masterpiece of linguistic economy:
- From: Ivan Cole
- Subject: MVP
- Joshua Dobbs
Here are some of my thoughts on the game:
After Round 2 saw the selection of a wide receiver, how many of you saw Round 3 featuring not one but two picks of offensive players? Me either.
But offensive players they were, and you would have thought it was actually offensive, given the cries resounding from Steeler Nation’s collective throat.
I won’t deny this was surprising. But let’s begin with the “two picks” part, because this is the result of something even more surprising—a plethora of trades by the Steelers.
by Ivan Cole
Editor’s note: Ordinarily I would have put up a post today with an opponent preview, but the truth is, nobody knows who the heck the Cleveland Browns are at the moment. The one thing we can be sure of (I think) is that they would like to make a statement on Sunday. They will have at least one fewer playmaker than expected to do so, though, as Myles Garrett, their top-of-the-first-round pick, the man who asserted that one of his top priorities was to “chop down” Ben Roethlisberger, got injured in practice and is almost certainly out, at least for this week. Hopefully this doesn’t give the offensive line a false sense of security. So instead of reading my wholly unsupported speculations about what the Browns will look like on Sunday, you get the privilege of reading more of Ivan’s brilliant writing:
Where things currently stand
I have been asserting throughout that everything about this season, from the outcome to the methods that might be resorted to achieve it would deviate from what many of us had come to view as normal. Usually by Labor Day the deal is mainly done with the 53-man roster and practice squad set. But in the interim between my setting down these words and the time they reach your eyes significant changes could well have occurred. So, with the understanding that this may still be a work in progress rather than a definitive preview of the 2017 season let’s bring a few things spoken of previously up to date.
photo via Steelers.com
The Steelers won their first game of this young (pre-)season. We all know these games are meaningless, or so we’ve been telling ourselves for the past however many years, when the Steelers have lost most of them. It might not mean much, but it’s nice to see them win one, especially under the circumstances.
As we knew going into the game, many of the starters didn’t even see the field, except where their feet might have strayed onto the turf on their way to the sidelines. Those starters on the offensive side included Ben Roethlisberger, Landry Jones (abdominal strain,) Le’Veon Bell (who of course wasn’t even there,) Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant (who was there but not playing,) James Conner (putative second back,) Maurkice Pouncey, and Alejandro Villanueva (concussion.) Did I miss anyone? Is anyone left? From last year’s starters, at least the majority of the season, the only guys on the field were Marcus Gilbert, David DeCastro, Ramon Foster, Jesse James, and Eli Rogers (if you considered him a starter.) And of course there were the extras—Xavier Grimble, Cobi Hamilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey, et al.
In other words, given they were working against the Giants’ first-team defense (with a few exceptions such as Jason Pierre-Paul) you might think the Steelers’ offense, led by the first rookie quarterback to open the preseason for a very long time, would be overmatched. And of course you would be right, although it might be just as fair to say many of the wounds were self-inflicted.
photo via Steelers.com
One of the scenarios which seemed almost a slam-dunk this season was that Joshua Dobbs would be a “camp darling.” After all, the man he’s behind in the depth chart, Landry Jones, has somehow or other not managed to endear himself to the fanbase, despite being about what you would expect from a backup quarterback. After all, guys are generally backups for a reason.
Ivan Cole made a perhaps unexpected point in his recent post:
The player to watch here is Landry Jones. I am already on record in declaring Joshua Dobbs the likely camp darling. And there is the possibility that Dobbs has the talent and the smarts to leapfrog over Jones. But for that scenario to be a positive one, Jones would have to push Dobbs hard. Otherwise, you have to rooting hard for Jones to improve and retain the number two position.
As Ivan went on to point out, this is not a popular position, as Jones is one of those players who for whatever reason fans generally aren’t pulling for.