Everybody Is Undefeated: The Most Hopeful Time Of The Year

Jeremy Hritz

Switch on Sirius NFL radio, or watch the NFL Network, and you’ll hear how every team is positive and optimistic about their prospects for the 2012 season. Well, that is unless you are the Jacksonville Jaguars and your first round pick doesn’t know how to call a cab. From the Buffalo Bills with the newly acquired Mario Williams, to the Washington Redskins with the much-anticipated RGIII, mediocre to piteous teams from 2011 are embracing their clean slate and are interpreting their sans-contact workouts-in shorts as indicators of their awaiting success.

This optimistic sentiment is not a trend that has burgeoned this off-season; conversely, this is simply how it is in the NFL during this time of the year, every year. Players who struggled in the previous season “feel a lot more comfortable than they did last year” and believe that they are “light years ahead of where they were last year at this time.” While that somewhat may be the case this year when considering last year’s lockout, the reality is that OTAs, mini-camps, and even training camp to an extent do not a successful regular season and playoff make. What we find during this rose-colored-glasses time of the year is players piecemeal-ing sports clichés to express their “newfound passion for the game” or their “better grasp of the defensive schemes.” It is great that players feel a sense of optimism and belief as they move into a new season, and fans and coaches alike would want it any other way. Imagine for a moment a player saying, “Well, I really feel lost out there during OTAs, and I feel like I have taken a step backwards from last year.” This would not exactly be reassuring to fans.

The off-season is a time where all teams (yes, even the Cleveland Browns) have an undefeated record, and where the yet-to-be narrative that will detail the 2012 season is debated and prognosticated throughout the league and media. Perennial losers ponder  the prospects of a winning season and rationalize how somehow, this year will be different, while customary winners like the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, and Green Bay Packers rigorously self-analyze to tweak their approach to improve upon their accomplishments from a season ago. Ultimately, the off-season represents an intemperate enthusiasm and hope.

And so before too long, all of the questions that are facing the Steelers that have fans jammed up will be answered. When the Steelers take the field against the Denver Broncos, the Mike Wallace contract situation will have reached some sort of resolution (for better or for worse), the starting left tackle and left cornerback will have been determined, and the players’ grasp of the Todd Haley playbook will be on display for all to evaluate. Only then, on that agonizingly distant Sunday night, will the decisions made in the off-season truly be able to be judged.

All that fans have now is hope and anticipation for a successful 2012 Steelers season, as they are patiently waiting for the new season to start, and in the meantime, they are hanging on any crumb in the media related to the Steelers that they can get.

The off-season is an investment for fans, just as much as it is for the team. And with each day that we study and learn about new players or changes to the team and coaching staff, the greater our eagerness becomes. Our wishes are that the regular season is just as successful as we envisioned it in the off-season. And if it isn’t, we will long for the draft and mini-camps of the springtime and a chance to be hopeful for a winning season once again.

  • Button_guy

    I’ve been a steelers fan forever, but I agree that there seems to be something special about this upcoming season. I have never been one to read updates everyday during the offseason. I just waited for the next season to start. But this year has me super excited.

  • Daveb1952

    Pardon me for not being a nervous Nellie, but I sure like what the FO has done during the offseason. Just one little piece of business ( Wallace) to wrap up and we are off to the races.

  • James

    Last year’s offense was pretty good and we all know what Ben, Wallace, Brown, Sanders, Cotchery, Miller and Redman are capable of. The only glaring weakness in last year’s offense was the offensive line.

    On the offensive line, we all know what Pouncey, Colon and Gilbert are capable of. DeCastro is plug and play, and the only question mark will be Starks or Adams.

    In light of this, it’s hard to find any glaring weakness for this year’s offense. How can we be anything but very optimistic? The only issue might be Haley if he just isn’t a good coordinator (his history has shown the opposite) or injuries.

  • Intropy

    I have question marks to some degree at ever position on the o line.
    LT – who is it going to be? If it’s Adams is he going to be any good?
    LG – Can Colon make the transition?
    C – Least questionable position, but how healthy can Pouncey stay?
    RG – I know, I know, he’s plug and play. But he’s still a rookie. We do not have any guarantees there.
    RT – Gilbert had a rookie season I’d call “pretty good.” Was that just the beginning? Will he grow into a pro-bowler? Will he have a sophomore slump? Was that his ceiling or his floor? One season isn’t a lot of data, really.

  • LucasY59

    you see ?s (all of them are good concerns) but I see a few Answers also, Colon has to be a postive answer for Legursky (hes a great backup, not starter) and DeCasto should be a guarantee to at least be better than Foster. The Biggest ? is LT, if Adams isnt ready hopefully Starks is healthy and can be the answer if not, I see a temporary shakeup with Gilbert LT (best candidate on the current roster) Foster LG (need Colon @ RT) Pouncey C, DeCastro RG, Colon RT, yes there are ?s but I still like these ?s/possibilities better than what we had last year on the O-line. Regardless they finally have the Potential to be the Answer for the O-line, and until they prove it on the field, that potential will always have ?s

  • Intropy

    Having a question on the o line is better than knowing the answer sucks.

  • LucasY59

    True, that was the answer they had last year, hopefully not this year.

  • rex remes

    Quarterback … check
    Receivers … check
    Tight end … check
    O-line should be better

    Running back … question mark.

    and … what about the kicking game?

  • rex remes

    Actually, I have similar thoughts/feelings.

    The offensive line (our greatest weakness these past few years), might be coming together. And the defense should be good as ever. And losing to Denver (which cost us a decent shot at making it back to the superbowl) has left us all hungry for more this year.