By Michael K. Reynolds
There was so little positive news to report following the lackluster effort of the Pittsburgh Steelers against the Carolina Panthers that we’re going to jump right to summarizing the preseason in its entirety.
Still overly depressing? Don’t shoot the piano player.
Here are some rapid fire conclusions:
Let’s Hope The Preseason Doesn’t Matter
This was a dismal preseason by any measure. An argument can be made that the Steelers 1’s, 2’s and 3’s were each bested by their counterparts on all four opposing teams. Worse, our 1’s were bested by the Eagles 2’s and 3’s last week. There really isn’t one moment in any of the games where the Steelers looked dominating in the least. Many people argue the results of the preseason have little or no bearing toward predicting the success of the regular season. Let’s hope they are the geniuses this year.
The Most Bright Shining Note
Were there any bright spots in the preseason this year? Any scintillating moments to get the home team fans fired up? There are a few, but mostly just a splash here or there. But if we’re looking for one positive trend that came out of the preseason it’s that the starting five of the offensive line seem very capable at pass protection. How strong will they be in producing a run offense? The jury is still out.
Transition or Decline?
Is the once-vaunted Steelers defense merely in a period of transition or is it in a state of decline? Are the days of “three and outs” now just a part of Steelers lore? On the first play on defense, 350 pound tackle Cam Thomas was blown back four yards from the line of scrimmage like a pillow tossed at a teenage slumber party. That continued to be the theme throughout the game as this was the fourth match of the preseason where the Steelers “D” lost the toughness battle. Is this an anomaly or have the Steelers lost the ability to stonewall the run and to terrorize opposing quarterbacks?
Special Teams a Big Question Mark?
One of the disappointments of the preseason was the lack of opportunity Dri Archer had to show his stuff on either punts or kickoffs. Will he add flash to the return game? That remains unanswered. One thing we did see a lot of was Brad Wing punts. The result was too much inconsistency to convey confidence. And Shaun Suisham with two missed field goals and one stray extra point is an unforeseen addition to the concern column.
Now…For Some Sunshine and Warm Puppies
So without slipping into deep depression how can we look at this year’s 2014 Steelers with the cup half full? Here are some positives:
- Ryan Shazier is a true impact addition to the defense.
- Stephon Tuitt will be a great defensive lineman.
- Dri Archer is Showtime every time he touches the ball.
- Daniel McCullers may eventually take over where Casey Hampton left off.
- The receiving corps, although a bit raw, might end up being explosive. Darrius Heyward-Bey could be the team’s best free agent steal. Between Bey, Markus Wheaton, Archer and Martavis Bryant, the Steelers may have an Olympic caliber 100-yard relay team. Antonio Brown looks well on his way to proving last year’s phenomenal season was no fluke.
- Despite a poor performance against the Philadelphia Eagles, Ben Roethlisberger looks primed to be in his prime.
- The Steelers are relatively healthy.
- It’s only the preseason. The Steelers are undefeated like all 31 other teams.