By Michael K Reynolds
It’s often said that Steelers fans are among the most knowledgeable and savvy in the league, but it doesn’t mean we’re perfect. Alright, let’s face it. Most of us are, at best, highly experienced amateurs.
So we’re certainly not above admitting when we’re wrong. Here are the top three apologies fans owe to their Steelers.
William Gay is a quality player
One of the most maligned of the Steelers is cornerback William Gay. When his return to the Steelers was announced in the off-season it certainly didn’t trigger ticker tape parades. And when the pre-season started it seemed when every breakdown of the secondary occurred, number 22 was there looking guilty at the scene of the crime.
While the fans were raising their flaming torches and pitchforks, the Steelers top brass and his fellow players stood firmly behind Gay, insisting he was a strong player and a valuable member of the defense.
So we consider it a pleasant surprise to admit we had it all wrong. It’s true, they are not about to name an island after him. But, William Gay has played a significant role in the Steelers’ turnaround and has been as solid a performer on the defense as any other.
William, please accept our apology, and welcome home.
Cameron Heyward is definitely not a bust
Keeping in mind the 3-4 defensive ends in the Dick LeBeau scheme will never get the Hollywood spotlight as do players on other teams, Cameron Heyward has proven his value as a penetrating force on the line. Esteemed colleagues such as Brett Keisel have been touting Heyward’s strengths all along, but we were slow to buy into it.
The jury is definitely out about Ziggy Hood (and they may have actually the building) but Cameron Heyward deserves to be judged on his own merits. Based on what we’re seeing with Heyward’s opportunity as a starter, he may well be on his way to becoming a valuable anchor to the defense for years to come.
Kevin Colbert’s best days are not behind him
With the state of parity in the NFL the draft has become the defining moment of ongoing excellence for teams. As fans, we’ve been spoiled with outstanding Steelers drafts which have allowed the team to be able to “reload” instead of “rebuild.”
But serious and legitimate concerns bubbled to the service with the paucity of talent acquired and developed on the Steelers draft days of recent. There is no question it has left this year’s version of the Steelers paper-thin in depth and uncomfortably reliant on inexperienced young talent.
Yet, regardless of the missteps of the past, there is no denying that Kevin Colbert and the Steelers organization struck gold this year. The 2013 draft may not only rescue this season, but produce the foundation of strength for years to come.
Although Jarvis Jones is not racking up the sacks yet, there is no questioning his flash of talent. Keeping in mind that outside linebackers are typically given a few years to mature into the Steelers’ system, he is well ahead of schedule to someday be on the list of great ones.
Le’Veon Bell is the real deal and has already begun to transform the running game. Marcus Wheaton will settle in as at least a number two caliber receiver and Shamarko Thomas is already splashing on tackles and coverage. Vince Williams is beginning to look like a steal as a sixth round acquisition.
What other apologies are due?
Again, it’s too early to get excited about the 2013 Steelers season just yet, and the team is definitely a work in process. But there is enough evidence to give credit where it’s due. What other apologies do the fans owe the Steelers? That Todd Haley can coach? That Ben Roethlisberger can release the ball quickly? That Guy Whimper is a legitimate NFL back-up? What say you Steelers fans?