October 09, 2006

The Pain, It Makes One Stronger -- Right?

YOU KNOW, January 2007 is starting to look a hell of a lot bleaker than it did just a few weeks ago. Back then, it looked as if I’d have the chance to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers, America’s greatest football team, play in the postseason. But Pittsburgh’s loss to the San Diego Chargers makes it look as if the Steelers will instead spend the post-season at home on their sofas.

Let’s review the horrible facts.

First: we’re 1-3. Second: Not only are we 1-3, we’ve lost to the evil Cincinnati Bengals once, making it tougher for us to win our division. Third: Good God, we lost to Schottenheimer, which is really pathetic. After all, if there’s anyone out there who can lose a big game, it’s Marty Schottenheimer. As such, it’s time to address some alarming trends that I and other Steelers fans have noticed over the past few weeks:

One. Not Enough Yelling on the Sideline.

During telecasts of the games in which Pittsburgh has lost, there has been a noticeable downturn in the amount of yelling Coach Bill Cowher has been doing. Last season, Cowher’s outbursts were so noteworthy they were mentioned on the “Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” This year, we’re only seeing the Icy Glare of Disgust, and clearly it’s not working out. We need more outbursts. Hell, coach, throw your headset around if you must, just get the troops fired up.

Two. Fast Willie Not Living Up to Nickname.

There’s nothing like watching Yet Another Steeler Running Play in which the ball is handed off to “Fast” Willie Parker on first down. Why, sometimes Parker gains as many as two yards on these plays, which generally involve him running into the middle of the scrum and getting crushed by a defensive lineman. Pittsburgh, this isn’t working. Please find someone else – like that new guy from Green Bay you picked up – to alternate with Parker on running plays, so we can get back to that nice run/pass balance that worked so well for us last year.

Three. Trick Plays Need Improvement.

I like when Pittsburgh pulls trick plays, even when they don’t work. That said, trick plays need to be smart. That stunt with the fake punt? Not smart. Everyone, including me, had this figured out well before the play ran. Sadly, "everyone" in this instance includes the San Diego defense, which snuffed out the play in an instant.

However, I have to say I’m glad to see the trick plays continuing. When these work, they work very well, and I thought the flea-flicker tonight had a shot, so I can’t blame anyone for that despite the interception. But if you’re going to fake a punt, make it look like a punt from the get-go.

Four. For God’s Sake, Throw on First Down

Roethlisberger seemed to be shaking the rust off despite the loss, so I’m hopeful he’ll be back to throwing strikes sooner rather than later. Throwing more, particularly on first down, will help. After all, everyone expects Willie Parker to run up the middle on first, so this would be like running a trick play (see point three).

Five. You Have 12 Games Left. Win 10.

This should actually be easier than it sounds. Pittsburgh got an OK schedule this time around and still has two games each against Cleveland and Baltimore, all four of which are eminently winnable. Plus, we’ve got games against powerhouse teams like Oakland and Tampa Bay. As such, based on Pittsburgh’s schedule, a strong rest of the season is definitely possible.

Anyway, I hope this helps the Pittsburgh Steelers jump out of their slump, as otherwise I’m going to have a really grim January – particularly if the Colts manage to make it to the Super Bowl. God, can you imagine how wretched that would be? So please, Pittsburgh – in January, give me something to which I can look forward. As much as I like arena football, counting down the weeks until it starts -- while watching Peyton Manning choke in the Big Game -- is not how I want to start 2007.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at October 9, 2006 07:58 PM | TrackBack
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