After being sufficiently stuffed Thanksgiving day, I settled in with my family to watch the Steelers-Ravens clash that night. First, let me say that nothing gets me riled up more than a Steelers loss, especially at the hands of the Baltimore Thugs, err, I mean Ravens. I really hate the Ravens, I do. Joe Flacco has no business being a $120 million dollar quarterback, and half of them needed subtitles during their on air introductions. Unfortunately, I sensed a Ravens victory was coming since the two teams have split their season series with regularity.
To me the game against the Ravens was a microcosm of the season as a whole for the Steelers. Some good, some bad, and some that make you wonder where this team is headed. Jason Worilds and Cam Heyward continue to prove me wrong and I thank them for that. Each has earned the right to stick around next year and be part of the foundation to re-build the Steelers D. Al Woods held his own, but he is best as a rotational player, not a starter. I hope they can find some way to bring Brett Keisel back for one more season, but I think Ziggy Hood needs to go, I know he has a lot of support in Steeler land, but he has not done enough in my mind to warrant staying. Lamar Woodley’s contract is a major albatross, so unless Omar Khan or someone else can get fancy, he gets to stick around next year. Overall, as the season has progressed, the defensive line has got better, but it can use a more stout nose tackle and someone opposite Heyward that can play the run and generate some pass rush when needed. A few weeks back I floated the idea of going to the 4-3, and I still think it bears some thought by the Steelers brass. Lawrence Timmons continues to be the unsung hero of the defense, but Jarvis Jones has been a major disappointment. The secondary will undergo some reconstruction next year with Ryan Clark all but sure to go and Troy Polamalu a potential cap casualty as well. Save your breath on Clark, I know he’s made some plays recently, but he’s more of a liability at this point in the eyes of many.
On offense, Ben was Ben, making plays when needed, but as the case all season, they had to play catch up. Losing C Fernando Velasco is a major blow, he has been the best free agent acquisition the team has made in quite a while, and he’s been the glue that has tried to hold this line together. Antonio Brown could become the first Steeler to lead the NFL in receptions, Heath Miller continues to be a valuable security blanket and Jerricho Cotchery has been a pleasant surprise. However, the offensive line woes continue, and they are still searching for some semblance of a consistent ground attack. As I said all these highs and lows of the season were on full display Thursday night, and one more was added thanks to head coach Mike Tomlin.
I’ve been tough on Tomlin all year and yes, I know how you fans feel about him, so save your venom towards me. However, his rather questionable gaffe on Jacoby Jones’ kick return has left a bad taste in my mouth and was the talking point from every pre-game program from NFL A.M to NFL Countdown. Of course Tomlin offered his usual drab take on the play :“I always watch the returns on the Jumbotron to provide a better perspective, and I obviously lost my placement.”. Okay, first, what better perspective is he looking for? A view from the coaches’ box would provide the best perspective I would think, all he’s watching from the jumbotron at that point was Jones streaking down the sideline, the same view he would have just by looking at the field. And why on this play did he suddenly ‘lose his placement?’. If this is something he regularly does, why the sudden loss of placement? Was he buoyed by too much pre-game turkey? Tomlin’s move wouldn’t have bothered me and I may have been quick to accept his explanation had he not smirked after it. Now maybe we’re all reading too much into a smirk, but a bonhead gaffe by a head coach is not part of the ‘Steeler way’ and certainly smirking about it does not help erase the questionable nature of the play. Yes, Jones should have just kept running straight, he didn’t need to swerve that much, maybe he was trying to draw a penalty on Tomlin, but that bizarre play sums up the year for the black and gold. I just can’t get my finger on what Tomlin was thinking on that play and I just can’t get my finger on this team. They have a core of young guys to build on, but what direction are they going in? Tomlin will be back in 2014 ( and ’15) to right this ship, but should GM Kevin Colbert and Todd Haley be retained as well? Time will tell.
AND NOW FOR SOME NON STEELER THOUGHTS:
Okay, one more thought on the Tomlin gaffe: no way this costs them a draft pick. Six figure fine yes, but no way does a draft pick get sacrificed.
What the NFL calls parity I call mediocrity. Living in NJ (and married to a Jet fan), I was subjected to the Jets-Dolphins game, which at times resembled a high school game than a pro football one. Watching this display of football ineptitude (especially from the Jets), and the fact that going into today’s action seven teams with records ranging from 5-6 to 4-7 were still in line for the playoffs in the AFC made me realize how bad the NFL has become. Yes, I know the NFL of today provides teams with the opportunity to go from 2-14 one year to 9-3 in the next (KC), but there are just some bad teams out there. Injuries, rules changes and free agency has made the NFL a very mediocre product in my mind.
I hate the Dolphins uniforms. They look like a reject from the Arena Football League.
Yawn…Peyton Manning NFL MVP.
Geno Smith just can’t play QB.
I miss Saturday afternoon NFL games in December.
I don’t like a third Thanksgiving game. Just another example of Goodell greed.
Right now there is no consensus number one pick in next year’s draft (Clowney, Mariota, Bridgewater?). I’d love to hear from fans who they would take with the top pick and why.
Thanksgiving football isn’t the same without John Madden.
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