By Matthew Marczi
Is it just me, or is it just about time for us all to take a break from this nightmarish beginning of the 2013 season?
The Bye week could hardly have come at a more opportune time for the Pittsburgh Steelers as they find themselves reeling after coming off their fourth consecutive loss in as many games to begin the year. Not in the sense that it will be enough to get the team refocused to make a playoff push (a notion that is, of course, ridiculous to speak of in Week Five), but it is as good a time as any to pause and take stock of where they are as a team. What is their identity? And who are the players fighting through the adversity?
No, the Steelers, even being just two games back in the division, do not currently have the look of a team ready to break out of a slump to reel off half a dozen consecutive wins. Perhaps the hole they’ve dug through the first quarter of the season is already too deep for this emerging team to be able to dig out of by the time they have their business in order and are running on all cylinders.
Nevertheless, the time off seems to come as a blessing right now as the jetlagged and weary team returns home from across the pond. The winless September has been a land even more foreign to this Steelers team than the pitch of London’s Wembley Stadium that was the latest site of their own misery, and it is time to pause to find their bearings amidst this uncharted territory.
The Steelers have called upon several young players to step up in place of veterans in several key areas this year due to salary cap purposes; how have they been doing? Where is Jarvis Jones in his emergence as a complete outside linebacker as he tries to replace one of the most complete players at his position in recent memory? How did Le’Veon Bell look as a feature runner in his first game? Perhaps even more importantly, how is his foot responding to the exertion? That alone is probably the best reason for now being the time for the Steelers to have a week off.
Heath Miller is only two weeks into his return to game action, with yesterday being his greatest test yet. It is not a bad time to give that surgically repaired knee a week off. Cortez Allen, who had a rough return after missing two and a half games on a bum ankle, now has another week to stew over his failures.
For that matter, the offensive line collectively could use the week off to catch its breath, as it has seemingly been running on fumes ever since its nucleus was torn away eight plays into the season on a friendly fire play. Certainly, changes could be made. Maybe it is time to give Marcus Gilbert a look at left tackle, with Mike Adams moving to the right. Kelvin Beachum is also in play, assuming that Ramon Foster’s pectoral injury is not serious.
To my mind, there is no shortage of reasons that come to mind for right now being the perfect time to take a break from this season. Perhaps it is simply because each loss is becoming increasingly difficult to stomach, but for now, I can tell myself that it is for the good of the team, and that they will emerge from the other side of the tunnel rejuvenated and ready to conquer, even if they ultimately fall short.