Where art thou mighty Steel Curtain? An o-4 start, the no-huddle offense erased from the playbook and a second straight year ending in 8-8, maybe the curtain is out being steam cleaned.
Early on, the Steelers season looked to be a complete an utter nightmare. Mike Pouncey’s knee too a swift vacation about five minutes into the season and the Steelers came out of those first 4 games worse off than they have been in the past 40 some years. Nevertheless, on the final Monday of the regular season, there they were fighting for the final wild card spot. I guess you can get away with anything in the AFC North lately.
Pittsburgh was a far different .500 team compared to others and the likes of Jerry Jones and his merry band of idiots. While being close to a label of “irrelevance”, a word not found in the Steeler vocabulary, their season did not end on a sour note, finishing 6-2 in the second half of the season (Mainly due to the young players that stepped it up).
It is a sign of a strong locker room and a true professional organization when you just get beaten sideways the first half of the year and end up looking balanced and competent at the end. Especially if you consider all the media scrutiny and expectations the met the steelers from day one of the 2013 season.
At the very least the Steelers deserve credit for not mailing it in. Tomlin and the rest of the staff held it together, and Ben Roethlisberger was given some hard test on leadership and quarterbacking passing them all. Maybe it was made easier by having to play in a division where the Bengals were the biggest obstacle in their way.
It is hard to pass on by quietly with the early ugly loses. The wins against Tennessee and Minnesota did not constitute “big” wins either. Digging themselves into a hole right off the bat was something they surely knew would be tough to get out off, and sure enough, they didn’t.
Im almost positive that at some point in the seasons first half, Mike Tomlin probably scribbled on his coaching pad:
“Note to self: Don’t ever start 0-4 again!”
Somewhat quietly, wide receiver Antonio Brown had a monster of a season. Mike Wallace absence was easily forgotten as Brown piled up almost 1,500 yards on 110 catches. Quite a lot of catches considering todays “run-and-gun” NFL standards. Most notably is the fact that Brown became the first receiver ever to have at least five catches for at least 50 yards in each and every game played.
Rothilsberger’s play during the final stretch kept him in the hunt for this award but Antonio was just plainly more impressive and also because he has zero accusations attached to his name. I do have some standards here.
The Steelers really need help on the offensive line, even if Pouncey comes back healthy, a bad o-line will just get you another 8-8 season. Not to mention that Big Ben will just fall to pieces after getting sacked for the umpteenth time in a month. The secondary also has some question marks, the draft is where they will go and most likely do it in the early picks. A luxury pick would be getting a compliment to Brown, much like he did for Wallace early on.
In truth, they aren’t flawless at any position, so this draft will be huge for them to get it right if Pittsburgh wants to start the whole rebuilding thing on the right foot.
Way Too Early Prediction
I know i have sang the praise of the Bengals in previous articles but don’t get me wrong, they are not an overly impressive team. They were lucky to be catching both the Steelers and Ravens in “transitional” years, they have a short window and the Steelers can close it if all the draft planets align.
Again, the Steelers need more than just a good enough draft to close the door on the Bengals and win the division this coming year and ending 2013 on a good note is just a start. Pretty unlikely they have another horrendous start and could realistically put together a 10 win season especially when the Ravens have a bit more to go and the Browns are starting from the very bottom.