The Perspective Of An Average Steelers Fan: Is A Big Win Reason For Concern?

It’s Monday and I am pacing around pondering the question. There is no doubt that yesterday’s victory was a very important accomplishment. The Pittsburgh Steelers sit alone atop of the AFC North. Still nine more games but the Green Bay Packers lost Aaron Rogers and the Baltimore Ravens continue to have injury woes making the second half of the season significantly easier. The Black & Gold was moving the ball of offense the defense shut the Cincinnati Bengals out in the 2nd half. Chris Boswell was a perfect 5 for 5 on field goals. The end of this game was never seriously in doubt with the Steelers in the Victory formation at the 2-minute warning. Yet, much like when my kids would bring home an A on their report card; I would ask why isn’t it an A+?

The Steelers had their first opening drive for a touchdown in quite some time. JuJu Smith-Shuster was wide open for another touchdown on their 3rd drive of the game. Andy Dalton, the “Red Rifle” or as I like to call him, the “Red Ryder BB Gun”, managed a couple touchdowns himself to make it a 14-14 game early in the 2nd quarter. But then, the Steelers just seemed to physically dominate. Even Le’Veon Bell was putting a hurt on people. As Darth Blount 47 commented on the Steelers Depot 1st half discussion thread, “That stiff arm hurt ME!!!!!!!!!” A couple promising drives ended in field goals. One due to failing to convert on 3rd and 1; the second because we ran out of time after running with 12 seconds left in the half. Still it was 20-14 but a little too close for comfort.

The second half saw the Bengals inexplicably failing to use Joe Mixon on a running play after he had gained 48 yards in the first half. I guess Marvin Lewis decided to win this game on the arm of the Red Ryder BB Gun. The Bengals also inexplicably only targeted A.J. Green six times all game. One of those targets ended up bouncing off his back into Joe Haden’s grasp. William Gay added another after a great effort by Sean Davis. Apparently, the Bengals playing Renegade at practice to prepare for the game did not pay off. Bud Dupree started with a huge pressure that Tyson Alualu finished by sacking Dalton. Dupree added his own sack to make it 4th and 34. I listen to Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin & Craig Wolfley on Steelers Nation Radio but this morning watched it again and after hearing the accolades of Tony Romo’s analysis. I must agree with commenter Rob who stated on the 2nd half discussion thread that, ” … Romo has been incredible so far this season. Already my favorite color commentator.

A high school classmate of mine, Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer opined in a column the “Pittsburgh wants to take it to you physically, so you fall apart mentally.” Mission accomplished as evinced by the Red Ryder BB Gun throwing the ball out of bounds on a 4th and 2 with the game still within reach. Poor Paul, he has covered the Bengals since 1994. But Paul is rich too; and knows that there is much more to life than sports. He is a fine writer and I highly recommend his book: An Uncomplicated Life: A Father’s Memoir of His Exceptional Daughter. An account of his daughter Jillian who has Down Syndrome.

So why the angst? After all the big off field drama coming into the game was the debate on whether Mike Mitchell was as dirty as Vontaze Burfict. That seems to have been put to bed for now after a game that had only six penalties. Mitchell had two clean tackles and Burfict was neutralized with just a lazy kick at Roosevelt Nix’s head after the whistle early in the game. (Nix could be seen with Burfict several times during the game. Mitchell behaved, and Burfict demonstrated his thuggery meek as it was. But a story that had been put to bed earlier had the blankets ripped off. Martavis Bryant has assured Steelers Nation that he was not looking to be traded. No less than Art Rooney II assured us the Steelers are not looking to trade him.

Now we have the Instagram post where Martavis expresses that “he needs to get his” and that he is better than JuJu. ESPN says a source claims that Martavis, indeed, does want to be traded. I am not sure what to make of all this. I liked seeing Martavis block downfield on Bell’s stiff-arm play. I do want him to be hungry for the ball. I hate seeing the social media that appear to counter what he had said in interviews. Is it an emotional outburst or is it a calculated move by a dispassionate agent that has no allegiance to the team only to his client’s bottom line? I really don’t know, but my most optimistic view is that all of this has a much greater impact on Steelers fans than it does with his teammates in the locker room. Maybe this will be no more than Antonio Brown throwing a Gatorade jug. Had he scored on the short play action pass near the goal line. Or if he had caught the long play action pass that he appeared to have a hard time tracking all of this would probably be moot. I’m not ready to give up on him just yet until I know more … as I type this a message pops up on the screen – Bouchette: Martavis Bryant Missed Team Meetings, ‘Called In Sick’  Yoi!

Back-up a couple paragraphs; I mentioned Paul Daugherty and being rich with the knowledge that there is much more to life than sports. I hope Martavis Bryant is okay. I am not going to hate on him or demand he be traded. I want to understand what is going on. Perhaps a change is needed and if so; so be it. I just want to make sure he is okay first. I have faith that the Steelers organization feels the same way; although they are a business first. After all, the Steelers mission statement as stated in Dan Rooney’s book is: “The mission of the Pittsburgh Steelers Football Club is to represent Pittsburgh in the National Football League, primarily by winning the Championship of Professional Football.”

If Martavis is deemed to be an integral ingredient to achieving that goal this season; something needs to be worked out. I have faith that the organization will exhaust those possibilities before moving on. This is not the only cause for concern. Chris Boswell is kicking way too many field goals when he should be kicking extra points. Whether it is game plan or execution – something is not working in the red zone and on short yardage plays. Last couple games fans complained there was no play action. Steelers try play action and come up short. Earlier in season, complaints that Steelers were not running the ball when close to the goal line. Try running in close and it does not work. Sunday the defense did not wilt in the 4th quarter. Hope that becomes a trend; followed by the offense scoring touchdowns in the red zone.

If this roster stays healthy and mentally strong; if the defense and offense play to its potential; this can be a special team. I will celebrate the wins but continue to express concern … well because I’m just an average Steelers fan and that is what we do.

Defensive Captain Cameron Heyward was on the Steelers Unite Weekly Huddle. He mentioned that Gary Clark Jr. was one of his favorite sounds. Here is Bright Lights .  I was never much into heavy metal; but did listen to Black Sabbath back in the day. For Martavis hoping you stay in the Iron City and say to any naysayers who will pass him there and don’t even care: , I am Iron Man and vengeance will be mine.

  • walter

    Ben needs to call the plays in the redzone. And why not? Bradshaw called his own plays.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    He can always audible; but of course the personnel that are in on the play dictates what he can go to.

  • walter

    Good point on the personnel. How did Bradshaw do it? Did they play with the same personnel?

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Bradshaw called all of his own plays I believe. Ben does something similar when he is in the no huddle but still has comms with sideline

  • AndyR34

    I’m with you on hopes for Martavis. He just needs to focus on football and forget social media for the season. Regarding the red zone…I said elsewhere it is where the Steeler offense goes to die. Really, really hard for the average fan to understand. I would be satisfied with merely inept, but they are worse than that.

  • walter

    Yes he called all his own plays but did Bradshaw call personnel on and off the field?

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    The cause for concern is that after 2 nice games they’re due to sleepwalk through another clunker.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    There’s been a distinct lack of no huddle for quite a while now. I’d like to see them try it again in the red zone or the dreaded 3rd and 1’s. Terry called his own plays.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    After that piss poor effort on the long bomb early, can anybody not understand why Ben isn’t going to him.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    well my perspective is: this outside of the stadium shenanigans,with the media aside, this team is playing good but I’m not getting my hopes up just yet this is the same team that plays good yr in/yr out we,for the most part, always play good during the regular season with a few hiccups or ups and downs if you will until we beat the patriots in the playoffs then AND only then will I be impressed

  • JohnB

    from what I’ve rewatched in the game MB seems to be doing his job and showing effort when not directly involved in the play.

  • Generic Steelers Fan

    *cracks knuckles*

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Probably not; but they tended to keep the starters out there the whole game unless there was an injury. They might change personnel for a goal line or short yardage situation.

    What is interesting is that Chuck Noll had been a “messenger” guard under Paul Brown; shuttling in play calls back in the 50’s. Paul Brown had experimented using radios but that practice had been banned by a league commissioner (Bert Bell?) as taking away from the spirit of the game.

  • Conserv_58

    The close up of Ben’s face after watching his pass fall to the ground on that play said everything we need to know about what he thought of Martavis’ effort, or lack thereof.

  • Conserv_58

    That is precisely what it comes down to in those situations. It comes down to personnel match ups. The timing of having the Steelers light package vs the opposition’s heavy package on the field at the right time and visa versa seem to be an issue.

  • TrappenWeisseGuy ;

    He’s not throwing to Martavis because he can’t trust that he’s going to run the right route,at the right depth, and that he’s going to fight to make the catch. The guy is the architect of his own troubles. Such a sad waste of talent.

  • Yeshaya

    I think I’m finding myself in the “Can we beat the Patriots?” camp regarding how confident we should be. I don’t know, each side of the ball had a strong half of the game and a decent half, between the two of them I’m feeling optimistic. MB quieting down a little would be nice too. I can’t help but think just connecting on 1 or 2 of those deep bombs we’ve tried would have kept this whole thing from happening.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Thanks as always, Beav! I found this to be a very good one. I liked the longer length, as it gave you more time to hit on various thoughts. Plus, I’m just a sucker for the long-read, lol!

    Is there a cause for concern? Yes and No. No, because we are in a fairly cherry spot at the moment. But yes, because we still have the dragon to slay.
    Luckily, we get a prelim bout in about 2 months. By that time, we should have a really good understanding of who we are and where we stand.

    I’ll have to check out that first book that you mentioned. I’m also a sucker for a good author with a touching story to tell.
    Keep up the good work, Beav. End of the day… I’m just an average fan like you.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    I’d like the team to put full games together instead of just playing a good half. They start doing that; it could be special.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    Thanks!