I feel your pain, Ben. Wait...no I don't. courtesy http://mix1065fm.radio.com

What's Wrong With The Steelers? Cynicism or Realism?

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How much truth is there to this statement: The Steelers Just Aren’t That Good? Could they really be this bad after just four weeks in to the season? Am I over reacting just by writing this post?

All week I spent on Twitter having this conversation with other Steeler fans from around the globe. How can the Steelers be this bad after just one off season from playing in the Super Bowl? Could it really just be that they can’t hit each other in practice, as Darren Woodson has come out and said about our boys in Black and Gold?

I’m not so sure. In fact, I’m not so sure about any of this. I will however, give you some things to watch for in the upcoming weeks that should give you the necessary tools to decide on your own the state of the Pittsburgh Steelers. So what’s the deal? All I am getting on Twitter is stuff like “Enough with all the negativity, BELEIVE #Steelers #SuperBowl” or this gem, “No more haters. My Steelers are Super Bowl bound! #Believe”

I just don’t buy it. I’ve never been one to just blindly follow because someone tells me to. I’ve always been a realist. My dad was always a realist too. I remember him saying to me in some particularly painful season when I was a kid something like, “You know Adam, they’re just not that good this year.” I probably asked him why he still yells at the TV and freaks out at the games, but I already had my answer. We love the Steelers. So when I say that the Steelers just aren’t that good right now, I’m not just being some Debbie Downer. It’s not that I don’t love my team. It’s that I am a realist. I like to know why things are going wrong. I like to watch every game multiple times to figure out what didn’t work and how we can fix it. Something I hope the Steelers FO and Coaches are doing themselves. (I’m sure they are).

It’s like the age-old politics debate. If you disagree with our president, aren’t you being non-patriotic? Don’t you love your Country? Come on guys, to care enough to say you think something is wrong IS to be patriotic. I feel the same way about my Steelers.

So. What the hell is going on? Well, in my last Friday article I pointed out how much the offense is struggling due to the offensive line. Shortly thereafter our boys got their asses handed to them by the Texans. Yeah, the score didn’t look like a beat down, but you know it was. The Steelers were never really, actually close to winning. We had moments of hope here and there (somehow our boys always seem to keep me hopeful) but realistically speaking, we were just dominated all over the field. Had it not been for many, many terrible penalties by the Texans, the game might have been a blow-out.

Is it the offensive line’s fault? Yes. Is it the defensive line’s fault? Yes, is it the coach’s fault? You guessed it: Yes. I think Hines Ward said something like that this week. There is enough blame to go around. No one is playing well, no one is coaching well. Unfortunately, football is more than just a couple of nice performances by Troy P and Mike Wallace. It takes more to win a football game and right now, this team is not capable of giving more.

Still, it’s hard for me to believe that this team I predicted to do so well last year can be so bad all of the sudden. It’s nearly the same players, just an off-season older. Yet, we can’t stop the run, we can run the ball, Ben has no time to pass, and we have one turnover on the season. Things are bad right now. We’re probably lucky to have the two wins we do have. We barely beat the Colts!

So as I said last week, we’re just not that good right now. It’s not me being a downer, or being a bad fan, it’s me being a realist. I still sport my gear, yell at the TV and all that. When it comes down to trying to figure out what went wrong, I’m interested. So, here are a couple of things to look out for this week when you are scratching your head, wondering what went wrong:

Isaac Redman:
If Mendy doesn’t get significantly better (hamstring), we will likely see a lot of running from Isaac Redman. Tomlin is not one to make hasty changes (see Byron Leftwhich…why is he still on the sidelines?!), so when it comes to Steeler Nation calling out for Mendy’s head, I think they will be disappointed. That being said, if Mendy is not healthy enough to go, watch and see if Redman can be a little more successful running behind the pack of gorillas … err… teddy bears we have on our offensive line. Look for Redman to get a lot of touches for two reasons: 1) Big Ben’s foot is injured and he will likely be even less mobile and therefore less likely to pass, and 2) Redman has been averaging 4.9 yards per carry. I am betting everyone wants to see if he can sustain that through an entire game.

Big Ben:
The Clock Tower will be wearing that protective boot of his (oh, so familiar) only this time he’ll be wearing it on his other foot – thanks, O line! Look for the running game to be pushed hard this week due to his lack of mobility.

Max Starks:
Starks was signed this week to help our ailing offensive line. Look for Starks to either start at LT, or have significant time there throughout the game. Starks took a lot (about 75%) of snaps with the first team D this week. How he plays will greatly impact what was an absolutely awful left side being led by the human statue Jonathan Scott.

Mike Wallace:
Seems like Mike gets about 100 yards in the first half and then is never heard from again, right? What’s up with that? Well, if protection gets better for Ben, and that’s a big if, look for Wallace to be more active in the second half. I would love to see Ben take a deep stab here and there in the second half sometime. Of course, as I said above, if Ben’s foot is really bothering him, we may not see much from Mike at all.

Defense:
Silverback is out 4-6 weeks. This is a huge blow to our pass rush as Woodley has been virtually non-existent these past few weeks. Timmons will take James’ place at OLB. A good thing to watch would be those who will be replacing Timmons, namely Larry Foote. Make sure to keep an eye out of Foote and Farrior in pass coverage. This is where we will get beat all day long. I know it, and I guarantee you the opposing teams know it. WR slant routes and Tight Ends will be given their fill this week against an aging and slower ILB core.

Also, look for McFadden this week. He’s back on the docket, but we have all seen Willie Gay (I can’t believe I am about to say this) look pretty good so far, and Keenan Lewis has been solid in small doses as well. I personally hope they go with Keenan Lewis more often to get some young blood worked in to this defense. McFadden is an interesting prospect because he was supposed to be the guy, but has been a “healthy scratch” for the last two weeks. Draw any conclusions you wish from that.

So, you make up your own mind. Are we just not that good, or is it simply a matter of execution. Can an offense work if the O line is this bad? Ever? Will Max Starks be injured in two weeks time? (Oh God I hope not). That’s up for you to decide. Keep an eye on the things listed above and you’ll have a better idea as to why things have been so rough and what the Steelers need to do to get back on the right track.

Those homers on Twitter are right about one thing: It is never too late, and the Steelers do sit at 2-2. There is always hope.

Follow me on Twitter at @AdamMeckler, I tweet a lot.

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