Last year the Steelers made an embarrassing exit at the hands, of all players, the abysmal Tim Fleabow – a quarterback so bad he is unable to start in front of Mark Sanchez. Sanchez, by the way, is rated #33 in QB rating in the NFL meaning he’s not qualified to start for any NFL team. But I digress… After last year’s embarrassing exit and this year’s numerous losses to sub-par competition, we fans are left searching for answers and trying to find hope and optimism. Why will this team rise up from its incompetence and make a run? Under normal circumstance, we would all be confident and happy with the team’s position. After all, our beloved Steelers control their own destiny. In fact, they can still win the division with two wins coupled with two Ravens losses. So why aren’t we skipping around our humble abodes and singing kumbaya?
- Oakland, Tennessee, Cleveland, San Diego and Dallas. All losses that left a bad taste in our mouths. Knowing that the NFL is the NFL and any given Sunday and all that crap, I still can’t accept more than two of those losses. It’s a trend rather than a fluke or one-off incident. Let’s be frank, this team plays down to and loses to its competition.
- The team chemistry on the field has sucked. With the injuries and continued cycling of players, it’s hard to envision the team finally coming together in spite of their failure to do so most of the year. "Next man up" has not applied to this team this year (at least for the most part).
- The team is -14 in the last five games in the turnover department. MINUS 14…in FIVE GAMES! And, it’s not just any turnovers but costly turnovers that are killing them. Teams do not overcome this level of turnovers.
- On the other side of the ball, the defense is NOT turning over the opposition. The defense has two games with two turnovers and all other games include zero or one total turnovers. Having 13 total turnovers on the season is a complete joke. The defense is not helping the cause and holding up their end of the bargain.
- Mike Wallace is contagious. See the performances of Antonio Brown and Emanuel Sanders lately. Inconsistency galore! He’s really infected the whole team. But thankfully, according to him, he has no concerns and everything will be just fine.
Enough negativity… I really am an optimistic person by nature. So what can we rally around as the regular season winds down?
- As I’ve already pointed out, the Steelers control their destiny and, by some act of Zeus, still have a chance at winning the division. Back to any given Sunday… How did the New York Giants fans feel last year after a week 15 loss to the Redskins to fall to 7-7 last year? At this point who cares since they beat the New England Belicheats to win another Super Bowl.
- Rashard Mendenhall is back off of suspension. Bad joke, scratch that.
- Ben is still the starting quarterback. I still like his chances to perform in a big spot and I still expect him to improve with each game back from his injury. Ben can be Ben and the team will be better for it.
- Law of averages… At some point, the Steelers will win a turnover battle, and if they do, they’ll likely win the game.
- See the Giants, Redskins and Ravens wins where the Steelers performed as a unit and got the job done. If you’ve done it once, you can do it again. And, in looking at those games, you need to push injuries aside because not all of those games were at full strength. The capability to win does exist.
- Finally, the next opponent is the Bengals. An improving, young team, but…they are the Bengals. Like numerous other franchise failures, until a team proves they aren’t a failure anymore (see 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates), it’s hard to believe it’s not a mirage. The Bengals just love to lose big games in big spots.
Regardless of fan frustrations, this team is still in the hunt. The next two opponents are not invulnerable to the suck factor. And, most important, the Steelers are the ones in the driver’s seat. I just hope Tomlin and his band of misfits find a way to embrace the moment and to band together because despite injuries and despite this season’s inconsistencies, the team still has talent to close out the regular season against the Bengals and Clowns. What if that happens? Who knows but I’d take that over the alternative any day…