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Some Optimism For An 0-3 Steelers Team

The Pittsburgh Steelers have started the season 0-3 and they are now off to London later this week to play the winless Minnesota Vikings. While an 0-3 start is normally a death sentence, I do believe there are some reasons to be optimistic moving forward and here they are in the form of bullet points.

  • Getting out of the country is perhaps just what this team needs right now and they will be playing a team Sunday that has had offensive problems of their own. Sure, the media will be tagging along, but at least they don’t have to listen to all of the doom and gloom on the local airwaves for a few days.
  • According to Jay Glazer, rookie running back Le’Veon Bell will make his debut Sunday and that certainly can’t hurt the running game. We will have to wait and see if cornerback Cortez Allen will also be ready to return from his ankle injury, but even if he doesn’t, William Gay has played well thus far in his absence. This will also be the second game for tight end Heath Miller, who played nearly 60% of the snaps Sunday night in his first game back. In other words, this team is finally getting healthy.
  • Assuming they beat the Vikings, they will at least go into the bye week with a little momentum. After the bye, they get to play the New York Jets and rookie quarterback Geno Smith prior to facing the Baltimore Ravens the following week.
  • The play of Marcus Gilbert against the Bears wasn’t bad at all and David DeCastro now seems to be out of his fog. Fernando Velasco will also have another week underneath his belt and has really played well all things considered.
  • Despite turning the football over five times against the Bears, the offense managed to have 11 explosive plays of 20 yards or more and the running game at least showed enough of a heartbeat to make that possible.
  • Cornerback Ike Taylor is off to a great start.
  • Troy Polamalu is very healthy after three games as is LaMarr Woodley.
  • While the defense has only registered three sacks so far this season, they are getting pressure. If the offense can stop turning the ball over and actually let the defense play with a lead for a change, I think the sacks and turnovers will start coming. Opposing offenses really haven’t had to force things in any of the first three games.
  • While certainly not dominant, the defense has played surprisingly well when you consider that Jarvis Jones, Kion Wilson, Vince Williams, Shamarko Thomas and Robert Golden have all played quite a few snaps.
  • Special teams actually look special so far this season.
  • The AFC North will more than likely be won by a team with nine or ten wins. The Steelers still have five divisional games left on their schedule and going 4-2 in the division is not out of the question just yet. Both Baltimore and Cincinnati are beatable and they absolutely should sweep Cleveland.

If the Steelers are not 2-3 heading into the game against the Ravens, I give everyone permission to jump off the bridge. Coming out of that Ravens game 3-3, however, will at least keep the division hopes alive with four divisional games left to play. The Patriots aren’t as dominant this year and there is no reason to look ahead to the game against the Packers just yet.

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Jason

    Thanks for the optimism Dave. I tend to try to focus on the positives (although there’s been few) and I think you touched on many of them. With Heath and Le’Veon back and the offense starting to move the ball I think there’s reason to be hopeful but a loss to the Vikings would end any hope so let’s get one this week. GO STEELERS!

  • psteelers

    I agree with everything posted above, however it all falls on the qb play. Watching Denver play last night makes it even more depressing to always hear about our O-line ills. That qb makes the game so easy it doesn’t matter if he had 5 punters playing in front of him. As soon as his back foot hit the ground the ball is coming out. Rhythm, accurate and on time, hard counts to pick up cheap first downs, snapping the ball quick giving his o-line the advantage to kick out faster, slowing down pass rush with subtle fakes, throwing the ball away to avoid turnovers, not trying to play superman and allowing your skill guys to be skill guys, understanding sometimes there’s nothing wrong with a 2 yard completion, an incomplete pass or just punting the ball. If we can get that kind of qb play I still see a 10-6 or 9-7 season.

  • Steve

    Season comes down to this Sunday. Its time to put it all together and go on a roll. We have to win 5-6 games in a row.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    I’m most definitely not optimistic about the running game and know why? The coaches are pushing so hard to start Le’Evon Bell. As far I’m concerned, he’s the most inexperienced running back on roster, am I supposed to feel comfortable Bell blocking like Dwyer for Big Ben? Also running the ZBS is different, Bell ran all power run scheme in pre-season (maybe he did in pre-season, but bottom line- no experience)

    So I would absolutely hate to be this guy but I’ll be waiting to say “told ya” when Bell struggle or get hurt again. To clarify, I DO not want Bell to get hurt and love his potentials on this offense but… its hard for me to trust him at this point.

  • Jason

    First off when you talk about Peyton Manning you are talking about the best regular season qb of all time. I think to say he would be the same Qb with 5 punters for O-lineman is a little drastic even though I’m sure you were joking. You have to remember Peyton has 4 receivers that are tailor made for this offense. Trust me we’ve all seen what Manning does when he’s pressured and hit and it isn’t pretty. He would suffer greatly with the kind of o-line play Ben is getting. I’m not saying Ben is as good as Manning, few have ever been, but Manning wouldn’t last 3 qtrs behind this line with receivers who struggle to get open at times.

  • steeltown

    Actually, technically the OL hasn’t been running a ton of zone so far this season. My expectations are tempered, but the talent is there in regards to Le’Veon hopefully he can stay healthy

  • steeltown

    There are reasons to be optimistic for sure, the trouble is we seem to be just starting to get rolling now and we’re almost a qtr through the season. Anythings possible, but we better start with a win this week or we’ll be too deep in the hole.

    In the end, I just hope to see the young guys continue to grow, guys like Decastro, Beachum, Wheaton, Le’Veon (hopefully) and Heyward, McLendon, J.Jones, C.Allen, V.Williams, Shamarko and Golden…. most of these guys are the future of the Team

  • treeher

    I usually don’t like early bye weeks, but in this case it couldn’t come at a better time. I will stay optimistic. Also, I will publicly admit here that I was wrong about Dwyer – it looks to me now that the red man should have been the one to go. He does not appear to be the same guy as last year.

  • treeher

    I think we will see the run package change with a healthy Bell in the lineup. He can power up, but he also has the quick feet and can get to the outside, which is what Dwyer lacks.

  • treeher

    Do you think that the Denver offensive coordinator is imposing restrictions on what Manning can do … or is he just turning him loose to run the offense? Think about it.

  • Ahmad

    The team as a whole has been healthier than in years prior. Yeah we had those devastating Week 1 injuries but since then the team has been more or less healthy and the rest of the OL has managed to stay off the injury report which is a miracle in itself.

  • steeltown

    {fingers crossed}

  • Shannon Stephenson

    When predicting the season’s games I had us losing the first 3 games not that it makes me happy but have us still winning 10 games. I believe you are right Dave and we have good pieces in place just waiting on a few pieces to mature some and we are at least winning again. I expect a win against the Viks although it still will not be pretty. After the bye I believe we start clicking. Hope we are right. :)

  • steeltown

    He does seem to be the best guy on roster..he runs better than Redman and he’s on par with pass protection as well. I’ve said it before I wouldn’t mind them keeping Dwyer for the long haul (as a backup) for a modest price, he’s still very young

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Nice article. And there were some running lanes Sunday night. Anyone know how the Steelers ran the ball with Will Johnson and Heath on the field?

  • psteelers

    No offensive coordinator mind turning over the realms to Manning because he has proven competent to executing. No offensive coordinator has turn it over to Ben because he hasn’t proven nor do the coordinator believe he’s competent to do so.
    Could that be the case? Or does whiz, arians and Haley all just suck? Kind of funny.
    yea Peyton has better weapons now but that hasn’t always been the case. great qb’s raise the level of talent around them.

    do you think it’s a coincidence that every line Ben plays behind sucks and there never are any complaints about the line Peyton plays behind? for their entire careers that is. At some point we have to accept things for what they are.

  • chris ward

    Steelers just have to take it one game at a time. It starts this week with getting a win vs. the Vikings. Then go into the bye week giving Lebeau two weeks to prepare for a rookie QB Geno Smith. Steelers have a good chance of going 2-3 heading into week 7 vs. the Ravens. There was some positives to take from Sunday nights game. They have to just build off that and get this thing turned around.

  • John Hinton

    Interesting that you had us losing to the Titans. I don’t think anyone saw that happening, especially at home.

  • Mike Carroll

    Peyton and his teams are the best ever at rolling up regular stats. But, Peyton and his teams are not good when the games get messy and go off script in the playoffs. In fact, they are usually mediocre at best.

    Give me Ben and the Steelers, Flacco and the Ravens, Eli and the Giants, or even a young Brady with the old Patriots in the postseason. All those teams and their QBs have enjoyed more playoff success than Peyton and his teams. And it’s no coincidence that the Pats have not won another SB after they inexplicably decided to transform into Peyton and the Colts.

    Please don’t send any BS about Peyton not having a defense. Entire organizations are built and catered around Peyton with the majority of resources going to his glorification. His teams employ a flawed philosophy that goes both ways. If he gets all the regular season acclaim, he deserves all the postseason blame.

  • Callentown

    Dave, love you man, but you’re just flat out crazy on this one (wink)! This is not a professional football team at this point.

    Do you ever recall a time when the Steelers had THIS MANY problems as a team? It seems to be pretty much every single aspect of football that they are struggling with.

    There is no quick fix for this. This year will have to be developmental and hopefully we draft well again so next year we may be able to begin to rebuild.

    Sad excuse for an organization this year in my opinion Dave.

  • Callentown

    Wait, wait… How do any of us know if the talent is there?We haven’t seen this guy play yet. I couldn’t agree more with Alexander that this is not going to be a short term fix.

    What a terrible way for a rookie to have to begin his career with the weight of a broken run game on his shoulders coming off a preseason where he did not get to play in any games (minus the 2-3 plays he got).

  • Callentown

    I will add one positive among several negatives: Our new center is already our best lineman by far. The rest all seem like they could be dropped, every one of them.

  • Mike Carroll

    Great point about the relationship of the explosive plays and the running game. Just a little bit of running success seemed to help this week. Sorry Ben and company could not complete the comeback, but it was very encouraging to see them gaining chunks of yardage. I know you’ve written about how the Steelers have ditched the dink and dunk offense this year, but it’s surprising to me that few media types have commented on it, even though it is really the biggest storyline for this team, aside from the 3 game losing streak of course. I just hope the team has the fortitude to keep it up even if they have a losing season this year.

  • treeher

    Looking around the league, it is apparent that the Steelers aren’t the only ones experiencing serious injury issues. Maybe the silver lining is that their injuries have come early, giving time for the team to adjust … other teams might find themselves relying on inexperienced backups in the middle of the season.

  • treeher

    Things are bad, but not that bad. They’ll come around despite poor coaching decisions.

  • NW86

    I think saying they have to win 5-6 in a row is a little drastic, but yeah, getting a W this Sunday is important, and I think they will do it.

  • steeltown

    Obviously based on his college career, he has talent.. obviously it is unknown whether that talent will translate onto the pro field (especially considering the avg OL) but the kid has talent

  • steeltown

    There are also Teams that look much much worse than the Steelers currently do e.g. NYG, Jacksonville, Oakland, Washington, St. Louis hell even highly touted SanFran 49ers have looked awful the last two weeks

    There really aren’t any clearly superior Teams, except Denver and Seattle


    The optimism that I have is that PIT has only played 1 DIV game thus far.

  • psteelers

    Im glad you were smart enough to respond to your own post. Organizations win superbowls. You can have Ben and you would be alone with other illogical steelers fans would be the only one to take him over Peyton in any situation. I could only imagine how many superbowls the steelers would have with Peyton. A defense that only gives 17 points per game for his entire career. And please cut it out acting as of Peyton need top dollars targets to do what he does. both he and Brady has allowed a bunch of scrub receivers earn pretty good pay days after seeing them put up numbers. Peyton carried horrible defenses to playoffs year after year where Ben has been carried year after year.

    How about this stat Ben has only won 1 game where the opposing team scores 30+ points since Whiz left us. There’s a big difference now that the defenses isn’t forcing turnovers and carrying the offense. He’s being exposed. Only under big Ben is the coordinator and O-line is always to blame. I never hear those top guys having those problems. I wonder why. No one can coordinate for a sand lot qb.

  • Don

    There’s no doubt that Peyton does his O-Line some favors by getting the ball out. But he doesn’t have magic pixie dust that transforms average to below average lines into formidable units. The last year that he played with the Colts (before the surgery), the line was pretty weak. As a result, Peyton wasn’t the beast he was for most of his career, nor what he is right now.

  • Don

    Admittedly, my knowledge of the outside zone is limited, but I’ve read that it takes a full commitment. It takes time for the unit to fully get it, it doesn’t come easy, and the short-term results can be discouraging. But when it clicks it can be devastating. Unfortunately, the Steelers don’t seem to be fully committing. If this is just a half-a$$ed effort, I think it’s just a waste of time.

  • Callentown

    I couldn’t be more excited about having Bell on the Steelers. My point has more to do with the situation and how much everyone is hoping this young man will simply walk in and save the day.

    It’s not fair, and it’s not going to happen. May take the year for him at this point. He’s a rookie and has played in no games.

  • Callentown

    Man, I hope at least DeCastro does. But boy does it look bad out there. I don’t think either tackle will work out based on how far away they each seem.

    Peppers is admittedly a great player but he hadn’t been showing up until he played this game against Adams. Then, he schooled Adams seemingly every play.

  • Jay Jaber

    i agree 100% i couldnt have said it any better roethlisberger has 1 good receiver manning has 4 and u can argue roethlisberger is better than manning at least in the playoffs lol

  • Jay Jaber

    you can argue that ben makes everybody around him look good all our wr are late round draft picks i dont think its good drafting by the front office i really think its cause of ben

  • Dan

    I’m struggling with this optimism thing, but I’ll try. In my eyes I think we have a top 15 defense, perhaps a top 12 special teams, and a top 30 offense.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    So to see this toward my major frustration- we haven’t really ran ZBS, so… explain to me why we decided on letting Max Starks go? Heard it was because the change of blocking scheme… you know this team is going to take a dive.

  • treeher

    TV analyzed Cutler’s release times and of course Ben holds the ball much longer, in general, so that has been a focus in the past of why his protection breaks down. But really, for the most part his protection collapses almost immediately, and I thought the dink and dunk offense was supposed to fix that. Look how Ben performs when he goes to no huddle. He’s a world beater then. And if you looked at Manning last year, he was just average, or below. And his OL sucked.

  • psteelers

    Well hell I’ll take a average Manning from last year with 4600 yards , 37 td’s 11 ints lol, that’s better then our guy best year.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    Right now, the only thing that matters for the Steelers is winning 1 game. They need to relearn winning.

    I agree with most of the bullets until you get down to the end. Baltimore is a good team and the Bengals are decent. It will take at least 11 to win the division, unless the Steelers sweep Baltimore, then maybe 10 gets you in.

  • Mike Carroll

    Peyton and his teams: 9-11, 23.0 ppg postseason.
    Ben and the Steelers: 10-4, 26.5 ppg postseason.

    Funny how the sandlot QB and his team outscores the greatest regular season QB of all time once the postseason begins. Peyton AND his team goes from an offensive juggernaut to mediocre also-ran. Does Peyton AND his team somehow become not good enough once the playoffs begin? Yes, that is exactly what the record shows. And it’s based in the differences between an MVP oriented organization versus a SB oriented organization.

    The MVP model approaches all their team decisions from an offense first mentality (cap dollars, draft, coaches, etc) especially focusing on the QB, plays to win games in the first quarter as a primary game strategy, seeks to perfect its finely tuned and highly scripted offense to the minutest detail, makes no distinction between beginning of year to end of year.

    The SB model approach is more balanced, but allots more resources to the defensive side of the ball, believes games are 60 minutes long, puts greater emphasis on year end play, expects QB and team to learn how to win games during the course of the season, believes the regular season is important for two reasons: getting in the playoffs, and preparing the whole team for the playoffs.

  • Steve

    I liked the hit Golden took from Cutler, but Golden took the worst of it.

  • psteelers

    You only help make my point lol, organization win superbowls I already said that. Only you and other Homers would take Ben over Peyton like I said. we both agree Ben has played on the better teams in the best organization. . You didn’t address anything I posted. Even ben’s wife would take Peyton. You are smart enough to know Ben has been carried, that’s why you others are complaining about the defense getting turnovers. Never have a Peyton lead team has those type articles in all of their local papers. Ben played his career with a defense allowing 17 points per game. That’s why his nickname should be blackjack Ben. You’ll be lucky if he gets you 21.

  • Steve

    The NYG always seem to start off bad, it’s not how you start, but how you finish that counts. I remember New York was lookin to fire Coughlin and they won the SB??? Well coached teams come on strong down the streach.

  • alex

    you really have a way of making 0-3 sound tasty…


    im with you all the way…add Heath, then Leveon and Allen and you have the players you actually wanted to start the season with…

    win in London, take a week off, and light up the rest of the schedule…

  • MC

    I’d like to see more lead blocking from Will Johnson this game. I baffles me why he isn’t used enough. If he was just a good blocker and nothing else, i’d understand but he can block and keep the defense honest with his catching ability out the backfield. Have we even seen a wheel route this season yet?
    Our oline struggles to keep the point of attack so when the RB gets the ball he is usually met by one or two defenders before he gets to the line, if you have Will Johnson in at FB, give him some carries so he has less distance to travel before he gets to the LOS which should lead to a higher YPC and just adds more variety to our run game.
    Just my two cents.

  • Rednecksrule

    What flavor kool aid are you guys drinking? This is a team with as crappy a line as you are going to find. They are already having to platoon players at tackle. Mike Adams sucks. SUCKS. The offensive coordinator is clueless. They have little bitty receivers who cannot big boy the ball when they don’t get separation. The defense is now giving up running plays. LaMar Woodley and Ziggy Hood get their asses run over regularly.. The Bears ran right at them.. They cannot play press coverage so the better qbs will light them up. Cutler is an adequate qb, not a great one and he had no trouble.

    This is a team in massive decline. The drafts have sucked since Tomlin arrived, the impact players are all on the wrong age of 30, and Haley is a joke.

    You fools will be all giddy about beating the Vikings…whoopee,the Steelers are goin to the Super Bowl.

  • Rednecksrule

    It is a declining team, you are dead right. Draft well again? They will have to draft well for the first time in Tomlin’s tenure. To top it all off, this crappy team is up against the salary cap… Damn 0 and 3 and you are at the salary cap? I would look at dumping LaMarr Woodleys huge contract. He just makes too much money for the impact he has. Haley has to go. He has been a goofball wherever he has gone. There are so many holes on this team and so few leaders also. I am not sure where they even begin to fix this team… it will probably take years.

  • Shannon Stephenson

    The team wasn’t ready for football in the 1st game according to what I saw in preseason and over the last few years it seems to be a trend that we play poor in the 1st game.

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