Tag Archives: JuJu Smith-Schuster

Fresh Eyes: Part III

Screen Shot 2019-08-19 at 1.58.44 PMTevin Jones; Karl Rosen photo, Steelers.com*

by Ivan Cole

Question # 3: Will the road to a championship in 2019 run through the Steelers wide receivers room? 

A week or so ago this would be a somewhat over the top question, but not by much. If you subscribed to the idea that the losses of Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown would be critical factors in the ability of the Steelers to compete then there is some relevancy here. Additionally, the circumstances for the receivers would be different those for the running backs, who have already had to cope with the absence of Bell. This brought to bear a series of complex questions concerning how this group, with JuJu Smith-Schuster as the centerpiece, would respond. 

And then Darryl Drake passed away.  Read more

Fresh Eyes: Part II

Screen Shot 2019-08-19 at 9.27.16 AMSteven Nelson and Sean Davis: Karl Rosen photo, Steelers.com

by Ivan Cole

The Disclaimer. It has always been my standard practice when discussing the possibilities of any new season to caution that all is subject to change based upon the potential impact of an unavoidable factor in the NFL dynamic: Injuries. 

Usually I have spoken of this in the manner of those commercials where a narrator in rapid fire fashion attempts to slip past you the possibility that in addition to the wonders provided by the product they are selling, there is also a chance that it could kill you. In this segment there will be a deeper dive into the Disclaimer, providing a more specific set of arguments and information related to just how injuries might play out as anything from an annoyance to a derailment of the 2019 Steelers’ championship aspirations. 

Question # 2: Who do we not want to see on a long-term injury report?  Read more

Fresh Eyes: Part 1

Screen Shot 2019-08-14 at 9.26.23 AMphoto: Rebecca Mehling/Steelers.com

by Ivan Cole

As Rebecca has already mentioned, life has slowed both of us down a bit but that should not be construed to mean that interest has been lost in the fortunes of the Steelers. For me it represents an opportunity to approach the upcoming season in a manner opposite from that which has been the case since I have been privileged to communicate with you concerning the fortunes of what I believe to be a model of what a first class organization, in sports or any endeavor is, as it strives to reach its goals. 

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Some More Random Thoughts on Steelers v. Bengals

Photo via Steelers.com/Karl Rosen

By Ivan Cole

Unlike Rebecca I saw the game in real time. These are the things that impressed me about this performance:

Meanness.

Rebecca and some others might have not have understood my comments in a previous post about Pittsburgh lacking a certain quality of meanness. I think this is because we often conflate ‘mean’ with ‘dirty’. This is, I believe, the Bengal’s fatal flaw. Cincinnati, as usual, was the dirtier team. Pittsburgh was the meaner team. What the highlights did not adequately convey was, despite the closeness of the score, how thoroughly the Steelers beat the Bengals up. The difference could be most clearly seen when comparing the play and effectiveness of Vance McDonald, who connects with Ben Roethlisberger through Bible studies and cancer survivor James Connor with that of Vontaze Burfict. Burfict played dirty. McDonald and Connor played mean. The result was a parade of Bengal players forced to the sideline, the locker room, and concussion protocol without roughness or unsportsmanlike penalties, while, despite threats and Cincinnati’s best efforts, the Steelers came through relatively unscathed. Read more

A Few Random Thoughts on Steelers v. Bengals

Photo via Steelers.com/Karl Rosen

These thoughts are not deep. That would be difficult, being as I couldn’t actually watch the game. They were garnered as I watched the highlight reel a couple of times.

There is one small factor which makes them slightly more valuable than my thoughts for many weeks previous—I can now actually see reasonably well out of both my eyes. It seems to me this ups the validity of my musings at least a little. (In case you’re wondering, I had cataract surgery on Tuesday. I have what they call “young person’s cataracts,” which is a nice way of saying “you’re old but not quite ancient.”)

So here they are, in no particular order:

  • Vance MacDonald has a lot of competition, but he may be my new favorite Steeler. How fitting it was that the first guy he took out on his little 29-yard scamper would be Vontaze Burfict. Another contender for my favorite, James Conner, put some hurt on Burfict himself, or he perhaps would have lost his place in line this week.
  • Why would any defensive coach in his right mind leave AB uncovered? Not that I’m complaining.
  • In his post-game conference, Ben said “What a great game!” about James Conner, and went on to say “I know it’s his last game, with Le’Veon coming back and all,” and that it was nice for James to have a game like this as his last one. The assembled media got a good laugh out of that. But it made me think how lucky the Steelers are that such statements are jokes—that the team isn’t hanging on desperately to hope that Le’Veon really will return this week. (No one, as far as I know, really knows when or if he will come back, perhaps even including Le’Veon.)
  • A bull in a china shop is a scary image. A bull in a china closet is just weird. Sometimes the broadcasters should think before they speak…
  • I didn’t know that volleyball was approved by the NFL, but there it was, two Bengals defenders batting the ball right to Ben, who said “Thank you very much” and took it across the line of scrimmage. Very entertaining.
  • What was with the Dr. Jeckell/Mr. Hyde special teams? Last week they were awesome; this week they sucked. A “foolish consistency” may be the “hobgoblin of small minds,” (an appropriate thought as Hallowe’en approaches) but I happily agree to be considered small-minded if special teams will agree to be consistent. Preferably consistently good.
  • Another Steelers/Bengals game, another cheap shot by Vontaze Burfict. As one of the local writers put it, if T.J. Watt was fined $20,000 for his “hit” on Matt Ryan’s “knee,” (emphasis mine), Burfict should be fined approximately $7,000,000,000 for his after-the-whistle elbow-to-the-head on AB. Personally, I think Burfict needs to be protected from himself. A nice long suspension—say 15 years—ought to do it.
  • I did follow the last three minutes or so of the game on the NFL site, and was tempted to repine when the Bengals scored. However, several things gave me hope: 1) the Steelers had all of their time outs, 2) there was still more than a minute, and 3) Cato, the fair-weather Steelers fan who leaves the room when the Steelers are losing too badly, came and sat on my lap for the final minute of the game. Phew!

Well, folks, I’m getting the other eye done in a week and a half, so for the first game after the bye I should be seeing on all cylinders, to coin a not-very-useful phrase. Hopefully I can actually watch the whole thing. That would be a treat. In the meantime, do check out the video on Steelers.com of Ryan Shazier visiting the hospital he was taken to last December. It is very touching. And it is way more important than football.

The Real Issues Facing the 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers

By Ivan Cole

I have written previously about the ‘fake news’ that rises this time of the year concerning the Steelers and the rest of the NFL. We are still some distance from clarity as to all the operative narratives that will fully describe the 2018 season, but some of the potentialities are obvious even as the off-season conditioning effort is just commencing, and we are still weeks away from the draft.

Whither Shazier?

Ryan Shazier will not play for the Steelers in 2018, but the trajectory of his life and NFL career may well impact this season and the organization for years to come. If you are young or otherwise not much up on the history of the franchise you might be surprised to learn that this isn’t the first time that a player and the organization faced a verdict of ‘may never play again’. Taking a look at the two most notable examples we learn something uplifting and important about the human spirit and how two men and the leadership of the Steelers organization responded to these challenges.

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5 Smoldering Questions on the Pittsburgh Steelers: Divisional Round Edition

BA639515-8ED8-47B6-B863-059E31BA4F1F.jpegPhoto via Steelers.com

The long, long bye week is over. Things are getting real. And that’s just for us, the faithful of Steeler Nation. I can’t imagine how real they’re getting down at the Southside, at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. And just like the Steelers, we have to keep our noses to the grindstone and our eyes on the prize, which at the moment is the prize of winning the Divisional Round. So buckle down, folks, and answer these 5 Smoldering Questions. Remember, how much work you put into it determines what you get out of it : )

1. Leonard Fournette, he whose running total back in Week 5 shall Not Be Named, has been said to have hit the rookie wall. Does this encourage you at all? Why or why not?

2. The Steelers also have a couple of rookies who are pretty important—notably T.J. Watt and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Do you see any signs of flagging in them, and if they aren’t (and Fournette is) what do you think is the difference?

3. The Ben Roethlisberger who threw five interceptions in the previous match looked nothing like the Ben Roethlisberger we saw the remainder of the season. To what do you attribute the difference?

4. And related to the previous question, by Week 5 Jacksonville had the No. 1 rated defense by any number of metrics, including the DVOA of Football Outsiders. They still do. How confident are you that the previous result was as much about the failings of the Pittsburgh offense as it was about the awesomeness of the Jacksonville defense?

5. If you were able to watch last week’s game between the Bills and the Jaguars (I, alas, was not*) what was the difference between the way the Bills’ defense and the Pittsburgh defense handled Jacksonville? Is the Buffalo defense’s approach something you think the Steelers’ defense can, to some extent, reproduce? Or do you think it doesn’t matter?

Bonus: If you’re a total masochist head on over to Steelers.com and watch Tunch Ilkin’s “Chalk Talk” episode in which he draws up all five interceptions and the 80-yard touchdown run (or perhaps it was 90—my doctor wouldn’t allow me to check). Not recommended if you have a weak heart, but interesting nonetheless.

*Although from what I hear I was spared…

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