Since last week’s win against the Baltimore Ravens, Steeler Nation has been obsessing over the various scenarios that will result in the Steelers making the playoffs.
The purpose of this article is not to discuss the chain of events that needs to happen in order for the Steelers to make the playoffs. There are plenty of articles out there that do that. Just Google the words “Steelers playoff scenarios”, and thousands of articles will pop up that outline the myriad playoff scenarios.
The purpose of this article is slightly different. In this article, I want to answer a different question. Rather than focus on what needs to happen for the Steelers to make the playoffs, I want to answer the question “Do the Steelers deserve to make the playoffs?”
This year’s Steelers team is unlike any that I can remember. For the first time, I find myself feeling embarrassed about the Steelers.
When I look at the Steelers special teams, I see a unit that is the worst in the entire NFL. They seem to enjoy watching their opponents celebrate touchdowns. Perhaps that’s why they’ve given up so many of them.
When I look at the Steelers’ defensive backs, I see a unit that doesn’t seem to be able to stop even the most meager passing attack. The cornerbacks can’t catch a cold. It’s hard to see this unit as being playoff worthy.
The Steelers’ offensive line doesn’t seem to be able to get an adequate push to allow the running game to operate effectively. That’s part of the reason why head coach Mike Tomin seems content to allow the offense to throw the ball 90% of the time. He doesn’t have confidence in the Steelers’ ability to run it effectively.
Kicker Jeff Reed couldn’t make a kickoff reach the endzone if his life depended on it. His lack of distance further exacerbates the problems the Steelers have with their special teams. It’s a good thing Reed is able to kick field goals accurately at Heinz Field (which isn’t easy to do), otherwise the Steelers would probably have gotten rid of him years ago.
Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians doesn’t believe in traditional smash-mouth Steelers football. He doesn’t believe in using a fullback. He shows no commitment to running the ball. Nope, Bruce loves to throw the ball. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that Bruce Arians will be the first NFL offensive coordinator to utilize a 9 wide receiver set. Or perhaps 5 wide receivers and 4 tight ends. Either option would probably give Arians the orgasm of a lifetime.
The majority of Steeler Nation would probably like to see Arians executed, rather than just fired. Is execution legal in Pittsburgh?
I’ve been a Steelers fan for a long time. I can remember some terrible Steelers. Cliff Stoudt. John Reinstra. Jamaine Stephens. Tim Worley. Delton Hall. Sean Mahan. Huey Richardson. Troy Edwards. Tom Ricketts. Limas Sweed. You get the picture. Yet I can barely remember an entire Steelers team that was as flawed as this one. O-line, D-backs, special teams, coaching, etc. That’s a lot of flaws.
This Steelers team is just barely over .500. Two weeks ago, they were below .500.
The 2009 Steelers have managed to play down to the level of their opponents, no matter how bad the opponent may have been. The Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, and Cleveland Browns were the worst of those opponents, and the Steelers lost to all three of them.
So, does a team that has struggled to stay above .500, and that has lost to several of the worst teams in the NFL deserve to make the playoffs? Surprisingly, I believe the answer is “yes”.
Despite their many shortcomings, the 2009 Steelers have just as much chance to win it all as any team in the playoffs. I guess that’s NFL parity for you.
If the playoffs were to start today, the Steelers would not be in them. However, they will have played 5 of the teams that would make the playoffs. Moreover, they’ve beaten 4 of them (San Diego Chargers, Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, and Green Bay Packers). The Cincinnati Bengals would be the only playoff team that has beaten the Steelers this season.
Of course, that doesn’t change the fact that the Steelers have lost to the 3 worst teams in the AFC. But if they do get into the playoffs, winning is actually a possibility.
Some fans probably hope that the Steelers don’t make the playoffs. That way, they’ll get a better draft pick and can begin fixing their woeful offensive line and defensive backfield. I can understand that line of thinking. However, if the Steelers DO make the playoffs, they can actually win some games. Just so long as the Chiefs, Raiders, or Browns aren’t in the playoffs. Then the Steelers wouldn’t have a chance.
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