Been awhile since I’ve been posting and I apologize. Due to school, travel, and a heart wrenching Sunday night debacle my faith in the Steelers has been a little lower than usual. An eight, I repeat, EIGHT turnover showing in Cleveland just made that faith even shakier and it’s pretty safe to say the Steelers are for all purposes screwed. Why?
1) We still aren’t 100% sure when Ben will be back. This is the most optimistic thing we’ve heard all week. After this week, it’s painfully obvious the Steelers can’t win without Ben. As much as I want him back ASAP, the Ravens will try to kill him if they know he’s not 100%. So basically, looks like 6-6 is inevitable.
2) I am seriously questioning Troy Polamalu’s career right now. He just returned to practice from an injury that has bugged him for several seasons. If he re-aggravates this injury one more time, I think it’s safe to say he’ll need surgery or will have to change his game if he wants to continue playing. Neither is good for him and consensus is that we are looking at Bob Sanders 2.0: a true animal who’s body is finally catching up to his style of play.
3) Without Troy, this defense has no true playmakers. Harrison is not the same left tackling destroying sack machine he once was. It’s obvious LaMarr Woodley is a gamer in the playoffs and pedestrian/oft injured during the other 16 games. Ryan Clark has elevated his game this year but in his 11th season, the improvement can’t be permanent. A young D-line with young potential stars is being carried by Brett Keisel, who is also close to ancient. Finally, Lawrence Timmons is coming into his own but there isn’t another young star to pair with him to ensure that the defense is safe moving forward. I won’t even begin to discuss “Stone Hands” Ike or Keenan Lewis. They’re both solid. Not playmakers, just solid.
4) The offensive line is falling apart. No one can stay healthy and with Ben probably coming back hurt, you don’t want to see the new dad on his back for 50% of his drop backs. For the most part, this unit has held their own and been the big reason why the running backs have had so much success. They’re less pressured under the new coaching system. But honestly, when you’re looking at going to your third man at right tackle, of course things are going to get rough.
So why then did going into the Kansas City game did we think this team was ready to challenge Baltimore and take back the AFC North? Because when this team is clicking on all cylinders, the coaches are calling a good game and the team has confidence, they are a Super Bowl contending team. They’ve dealt with adversity all season and managed a 6-3 start with it. The last two games, they’ve had to play without their team leader. The o-line and Ben are probably the closest group of guys on the team. The wide outs know they don’t have to be 100% in routes when he’s back there. The defense gets to rest more and doesn’t have to force the turnover for the team to work.
We’ve learned the 2012 Pittsburgh Steelers are as strong as Ben Roethlisberger. The team just doesn’t have the mojo when he’s not back there. The coaches mess with the game plans, the players aren’t in sync and in the modern day NFL, that’s enough to take you to the bottom real quick. At this point, a 9-7 or 8-8 season is not out of the realm of possibility. Heck, the Steelers could use a higher draft pick. But everyone in the NFL knows that this team is far more talented than that. Unfortunately, without Ben, the Steeler’s don’t seem to remember that. And that’s why we’re pretty F’in screwed until Big Ben returns.