Another slow day in Steelers la-la land. This season probably cannot end soon enough for many. One week you have the touching picture of Charlie Batch and Ben Roethlisberger’s long, emotional hug in Baltimore. The next, you have boos cascading down upon their heads in Heinz Field and they acknowledge they weren’t ready to play.
Two days later, another player is suspended because, like many of his teammates, Rashard Mendenhall chose not to show up for Sunday’s game.
The next thing you know a Steelers player will be arrested for speeding away from cops and bouncing off five cars in the South Side.
The Steelers are becoming the dysfunctional New York Jets right before our very eyes.
Maybe the losses of Hines Ward, James Farrior, Aaron Smith and Chris Hoke has had more of an effect than I thought it would. I thought they still had enough leadership in the locker room to hold things together, but this is unreal.
Brett Keisel’s determination that the Steelers weren’t ready to play last Sunday was astonishing. I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever a player truly say that the way he did, and he repeated it several times. I can only imagine the headline that might have attracted on the back page of the New York Post if a Jets player had said it.
He wasn’t the only one who alluded to it either. So too did Ryan Clark and Larry Foote, and there were probably more. I tried to find Rashard Mendenhall to see what he thought but he must have left the locker room before I got there.
I’m not quite sure what to think about Mendenhall’s actions by not showing up. I’ve seen worse, and the guy wasn’t suspended.
Bubby Brister admitted that, during a game in Houston near the end of the 1991 season, offensive coordinator Joe Walton told him to go in for an ineffective Neil O’Donnell at quarterback. Brister refused. He was upset because he was the starting quarterback, got injured and was replaced by O’Donnell while he rehabbed. When he returned to full health, they stayed with O’Donnell and Brister seethed.
What he did was flat-out insubordination. He also then publicly embarrassed Walton by telling everyone about it. You know what Chuck Noll’s reaction was? He started Brister in the final two games of the season, both at home, Noll’s final games as a coach.
What Mendenhall did was small potatoes compared to that. He wasn’t going to play anyway. What purpose was he going to serve trying to keep warm on the sideline?
But team rules are team rules and the Steelers did not want to set a precedent, so Mendy was suspended and he did not try to file a grievance or anything else. He’s accepting it. Of course, this won’t help him much when he hits the free agent market in March.
Onto some other stuff:
--- Mike Tomlin’s refusal to try a two-point conversion is strange considering his aggressiveness in a playoff game against Jacksonville that ended his first season in 2007.
With 10:25 left in the game, the Steelers scored a touchdown to trail the Jaguars 28-23. Tomlin went for two points, even with that much time left. It was good, but there was a holding penalty on the play and it put them back to the 12. Instead of just kicking, Tomlin stuck with his plan to go for two. It failed.
The Steelers scored another TD with 6:21 left and again went for two. Again it failed. They led 29-28.
Jacksonville kicked a field goal with 37 seconds left to win 31-29, those two points being the difference in the two failed conversions by the Steelers.
It was too early to go for the first two, and certainly ill-advised to go for it once they were at the 12. Had they kicked both times, they would have been up by three and Jacksonville’s field goal only would have tied.
--- Now here’s something I never heard before, that Joe Montana wanted to go to the Steelers rather than Kansas City in 1993. Remember, he wound up beating them in the playoffs in overtime that season in KC in typical Montana comeback style. Here’s the story:
--- The web site www.makeNFLplayoffs.com pegs the Steelers chances at making the playoffs nearly even at 49.1 percent.
--- YOU: When it comes to playing sub-par teams, the Steelers are not playing down to the level of the competition. Rather, the Steelers are at that level. A good team does not lose to the Raiders, Titans, Browns, and Chargers. The Steelers are an average team, as evidenced by their record of 7-6. Is this reality, or am I just being a pessimist?
ME: Well put, except they are a winning team and teams that beat the Giants, Bengals and Ravens on the road should not be losing to the Chargers at home.
--- YOU: I agree with you that the Steelers may not be that good, and I do put some of the blame on Tomlin. Do you agree that his in-game decisions seem to be worse this year than any other? Can the push for Haley as OC make Tomlin feel like the Steelers hired a head coach in waiting?
ME: He doesn’t make any more good/bad decisions than other coaches I’ve followed. Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher weren’t perfect either. I don’t think Tomlin’s decisions during games are that bad, not like the mail I get say they are. No, I do not think Todd Haley is a coach in waiting. Tomlin hired him, no one else. And, if you know the history of the Steelers, they NEVER promote one of their assistants to head coach, and you can go way back into history to see that, before Noll.
--- YOU: You wrote in your chat today "It has to be a FORWARD pass. If it does
not go forward from the line of scrimmage, it's considered a lateral,
which is a live ball. "
I'm guessing this was just a slip of the fingers, since chats are so
hurried? The line of scrimmage merely defines the forward-most place
you are allowed to throw a forward pass from. Whether it is a forward
pass or a lateral depends upon whether or not it goes forward from the
place from which it's thrown, not whether or not it goes past the LOS,
right? Otherwise bobbled screen passes, or passes that slip out of the
QB's hand and fall very short, or perhaps even tipped passes that then
hit the ground, would all be live balls.
Perhaps that wouldn't be all bad, though -- the Steelers would
probably have a few more takeaways!
ME: Yes, chats are the MASH unit of journalism, they often don’t allow time to think much. You are correct. The only thing the line of scrimmage means to the pass is that you cannot throw it forward once you go past it.
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