After such an impressive win last weekend over the Patriots, there has been a buzz around town that maybe we are officially seeing a changing of the guard in regards to Steeler personnel.
After Sunday’s masterpiece by the Steelers, the team has still only beaten Tom Brady twice in his career, but for many players who took the field this past Sunday, those past losses are nothing more than stories.
The Steelers got big time production from young players on both sides of the ball, including stellar performances from receivers Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders with Hines Ward cheering from the sideline. I thought rookie tackle Marcus Gilbert did a phenomenal job pass blocking to allow Ben all the time he needed to set up many of the perfect reads he made all day. The big question going into the game on Sunday was how the Steelers defense would step up against the vaunted Patriots offense with players such as James Farrior and Harrison ruled out for the game. Well, those questions were answered decisively with great performances by young linebackers Stevenson Sylvester and Lamar Woodley, and you can’t forget the performances of young cornerbacks Keenan Lewis and Cortez Allen, showing they could lock down any Patriots receivers that came their way all game.
As many of the Steeler veterans were ruled out of the game against the Patriots, and likely will be sidelined again for next weeks primetime matchup against the Ravens, fans can’t help but get excited over the prospect of all the Steelers young players coming to fruition.
But, I want to pump the breaks a little on the whole changing of the guard argument. While I have loved the performances of many of the up and coming players on the black and gold, let’s not forget the hall-of-fame caliber talent still on the roster. Call me greedy, but in this situation I want to have my cake and eat it as well. It is fantastic that many of the young players are stepping into the rolls that were perceived for them when they were drafted. There is no reason why Tomlin should have to choose whom to play. I hear so much speculation that Hines should not even see the field with the way the young receivers are playing. Those notions are ludicrous! If Ben is going to throw the ball 50-plus times, there are certainly enough balls to go around for all the Steeler receivers, and with Hine’s unique ability to find the end-zone, he is still a valuable person to have on the field.
The Steelers have a wealth of depth on the defensive side of the ball, with defensive linemen such as Ziggy Hood and Cam Heyward. Many people would think with the line backing corps in shambles due to injury, the Steelers would be in a lot of trouble when in reality it is quite the opposite. With Harrison out, Timmons has done a remarkable job filling in at the outside linebacker position. Sylvester did the “55” justice showing he could step in at any moment and bring another ripple into this Steeler defense. Losing Woodley to a nasty hamstring injury will be a significant loss for the black and gold this week, but I am partially comforted by the way Chris Carter played when he got his chance. There were many plays were I thought I was still watching Woodley as Carter bulldozed over many Patriot offensive lineman.
I feel like I’m rambling a little, you will have to pardon my excitement from last weeks enormous victory, but what I am really trying to get at here is how well this team is built and coached. The Steelers have talent pouring out of every single position on the field, and with a remarkable blend of veteran savvy, and upstart young talent, this team is truly a force to be reckoned with. I don’t think there should be any debate as to whether a young player should start over a veteran, or vice versa. I think Tomlin knows exactly how to utilize all the players he has on his roster, and I can’t wait to see this team continue to develop.