By the time you read this, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin will have held his weekly press conference. I’ll gleefully mock his idiocy tomorrow. Until then, we have others joining him in the “WTF is he talking about?” club this week.
I realize football players aren’t smart. The vast majority of them can barely write their own names. And I realize they’re taught early on some simple strategies for dealing with the media. That’s why so many of them repeat the same cliches and the same sound bites over and over again. It’s rare when you find one truly capable of actual insight.
And, no, Ryan Clark isn’t one of them, despite the high opinion he holds of himself.
Given all that, you still expect a degree of honesty from players. When a team is 2-5 and coming off an embarrassingly bad loss, you expect some honest reflection. You expect humility. You expect realism. You don’t expect this:
“I think we can take a lot of positives out of this.”
That’s from receiver Antonio Brown. Yes, he of the two drive killing drops and interception that went through his fingers. But there were a lot of positives! Let’s see how many we can think of.
There was the five sacks the injury ravaged offensive line allowed, putting them on track for a whopping 60 sacks surrendered this year. There were the aforementioned drops by our #1
dancer wide receiver. There were the two missed chip shot field goals and horrendous punting by our special teams. Oh and let’s not forget the 24 rushing yards provided by future Hall of Famer Le’Veon Bell.
Yep, lots of positives!
Unfortunately, all those sacks the inept line is allowing seems to be affecting Ben Roethlisberger‘s brain as well. And Ben was never a deep thinker to begin with. He also had a SMH Comment when he said, “We felt like we were doing some good things and we were getting better.” I suppose when you score 3 points and put up 55 yards of total offense in the first half, you can’t help but get better in the second half. But nine minute drives than end in field goal attempts or piss poor clock management when trying to mount a comeback is hardly “getting better.”
Perhaps the most honest assessment of this Steelers team can be found by one of their truly good guys. Brett Keisel told reporters, “We need to not get ourselves in a hole. When we don’t get in a hole, we can be pretty tough.” On the surface, the Diesel is saying if they can stop giving up big plays early, they might be able to hang in games. But what he’s inferring is actually much more insightful.
This Steelers team is extremely easy to rattle. In year’s past, they’d get down one even two scores and methodically work their way back into the game. This year it seems like as soon as they give up a big play, they get shellshocked and go into a funk for a quarter or more. It happened against Tennessee, it happened again against Minnesota, it definitely happened Sunday against Oakland. I don’t know if it’s the lousy head coach or the lack of veteran leadership or some combination of the two.
What I do know is ignore the soundbites. The Steelers are not in the playoff hunt this season. And the sooner Steeler Nation accepts that, the easier these remaining games will be for all of us.