Friday, October 13, 2006

So, who's pushing the panic button?

I'm on six beers and two Rockstar energy drinks right now, and I have class in about seven hours, so bear with me.

Customarily, I stay up just late enough to read the early edition of the Post-Gazette when it becomes available on its website, which is usually about 12:30 a.m. Today is Friday, five days since the Steelers shit the bed in the second half of their game against the San Diego Chargers en route to their third consecutive loss, dropping their record to 1-3. Today also marks the fifth consecutive day in which the Steelers beat writers have employed an "Oh-my-god-what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-the-Steelers" approach to their stories.

Granted, the Steelers most certainly do have several issues that need to be sorted out, primarily Ben Roethlisberger exhibiting the decision-making skills of a drunk teenager at the worst possible times, the offensive line forgetting what the words "pass blocking" mean, and the defense jerking off on every third down and a number greater than five to go.

Today's story focuses on the loss of Joey Porter, who has officially been declared out for Sunday's game against the Chiefs at Heinz Field. Now, I love Peezy to death as much as the next yinzer, but please, let's not pretend he hasn't been anything but totally anonymous since a dominant performance in the season opener five weeks ago. Ordinarily, I'd be shrugging it off, but this actually is becoming a bit of a concern because fifth linebacker James Harrison, who is a fucking demon, is also injured. This leaves the start at right outside linebacker to Arnold Harrison (no relation), whose NFL experience consists nearly entirely of two words: Practice Squad. He was technically on the 53-man roster for the Super Bowl, as well as a couple of games this year, so I suppose that counts for something, although that something certainly isn't the demonstrated ability to eat quarterbacks.

To provide Arnold Harrison with some help, the Steelers dipped into the free agent market and, realizing they haven't had a link to the pre-Kordell era after the retirement of Jerome Bettis, reeled in Chad Brown. Chad Brown last played for the Steelers in 1996, which is so long ago, I don't even really remember it. My one concrete memory involving Chad Brown came some cold winter morning in fourth grade during breakfast at Sacred Heart Elementary School in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Shadyside (responsible for bestowing Marc Bulger and his, erm, extremely talented sister upon the world).


Joins Wiz Khalifa as the two pseudo-celebrities who have ridden the same school bus as me.

Anyway, this was some Monday morning right after Chad Brown had enjoyed a monster game, something like three sacks and an interception. I don't remember the details because at this point in my life, I had no idea what a 3-4 defense even was. There was a kid a few years younger than me at Sacred Heart named Sheldon who claimed Greg Lloyd was his uncle, and in the middle of an animated discussion about Chad Brown I was having with my peers, this Sheldon felt it was prudent to butt in and inform us that "Uncle Greg would kick Chad Brown's ass." I think we might have tried explaining that Greg Lloyd and Chad Brown were on the same team, but I'm sure if we did, it was lost on him. Greg Lloyd was later accused of shoving a loaded pistol in his son's mouth beacuse he was upset about his son's report card, so I'd tend to believe Sheldon, but that doesn't excuse the utter absurdity of the statement (the charges pressed against Lloyd over the pistol incident resulted in a mistrial. Good Lord, that must have been a fun trial to be in attendance of).

Where am I going with all of this? I guess I'm just trying to convince myself (and everyone else) that the Steelers are going to be just fine. They're just as talented as they were last year, so I'm willing to place the poor start on the inconsistency of Ben and the offensive line, which shouldn't last all season. I'm not the only one who thinks so, either. Bob Trumpy, who did play-by-play for the San Diego game for CBS Radio, said in the booth during the game that he believes the Steelers are a more talented team than the Chargers.

"I'm not sure any offensive linemen for San Diego would make that Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line. Maybe two or three Chargers defensive players would make the Steelers," Trumpy said. While even I think this is a slight exaggeration, if I were to say anything even remotely similar, I'd just be a stupid homer.

To put things in perspective, the Steelers have two very winnable games coming up, at home vs. Kansas City, and on the road in Oakland. Win those, and the team is .500. Five in a row, something that even really mediocre football teams are liable to accomplish, our record is 6-3 and the sluggish start is pretty much forgotten.

Basically, if the team can get to a position where it's 9-5 heading into the final two weeks of the season, a Christmas Eve showdown at home against the Ravens and a New Years Eve bloodbath at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, our fate will most likely be in our own hands, and I'm confident we can beat both of those teams. The trick is just getting to 9-5, which would require an 8-2 run, and the current team is easily talented enough to do that. Hell, the 2002-2003 Steelers started 1-3, and they rebounded to finish 10-5-1 and came within an Oscar-worthy performance by Joe Nedney of making the AFC Championship game, and this year's version is ten times better than those guys were. I mean, Amos Zeroue was the feature back that year. Enough said.

Obviously, there's a chance I could end up being completely wrong and the Steelers could just melt down and finish 3-13, but the point is, it's dumb to ridicule me for conjecturing about something that's entirely plausible.

Hell, at least starting 1-3 makes the season a lot more exciting. If we were 4-0 or 3-1, coming off a Super Bowl win...well, remember how boring the Patriots were during their "dynasty?"

1 comment:

Dan said...

tom brady didnt get hit by a car