It’s a bye week, so it’s a good time to discuss what’s happened so far in the Steelers’ season.
After 10 weeks, the Steelers are in 1st place in the AFC North. They’re also tied with the Houston Texans for the best record in the entire AFC.
After the crushing loss to the Baltimore Ravens in the first game of the season, many fans probably wondered if the Steelers were just too old to get it done. But now that the season is more than half over, we see that the Steelers can still contend in (and maybe win) the AFC.
So what have we learned so far?
- The Steelers are set at wide receiver. Antonio Brown is having a breakout season, and if it weren’t for an injury, Emmanuel Sanders would probably be having one as well. Jericho Cotchery has also finally started to be used in the offense. As much as we all love Hines Ward, these young guys are the Steelers’ future at wide receiver. And the future looks very bright.
- Jonathan Scott is a backup. Coming into the season, the Steelers thought that they could successfully start Jonathan Scott at left tackle. They couldn’t have been more wrong. After Scott almost got Ben Roethlisberger killed, the Steelers were forced to bring Max Starks back to start at left tackle. Then rookie Marcus Gilbert beat him out for the starting spot at right tackle. Now, Scott is back to being a backup offensive lineman, which is what he SHOULD have been all along.
- The running game is unreliable. We’ve all shared the same frustration watching the Steelers trying to run the ball. To say that their running game is ineffective would be an understatement. Much of the blame probably belongs to the team’s patchwork offensive line. However, I am growing increasingly concerned about Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenhall often looks impotent when hitting the hole. His offensive line hasn’t been opening huge holes for him, but I’ve noticed that Isaac Redman and Mewelde Moore seem to have greater success running behind that offensive line. Whazzupwitdat Rashard?
- Watching Chris Kemoeatu is frustrating. Kemo used to be a penalty waiting to happen. Then he got better. But now he looks even worse. His pass blocking is terrible, and Steelers fans know that they can depend on him for at least one stupid penalty per game. I’m no longer surprised when Kemoeatu lands a late (and blatantly illegal) block on someone 5 seconds after the whistle has been blown.
- Ziggy Hood is good. I’ve said many times that I love Aaron Smith, and that I appreciate the contribution that he’s made to the Steelers over the years. But I’m sure that everyone noticed that the Steelers’ defense got much better as soon as Ziggy Hood was inserted into the starting lineup. LaMarr Woodley certainly noticed. He went on an absolute sack-fest once Hood became the starter.
- The Steelers are a passing team. I’m getting tired of hearing fans say that the Steelers need to use a “smashmouth” running offense. In case you hadn’t noticed, Jerome Bettis retired years ago. Moreover, the Steelers’ offensive line hasn’t been dominant enough to impose their will on the opposition in years. I know that we’re all nostalgic for the good old days, but the current team is a passing team. Big Ben is 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, behind only Drew Brees and Tom Brady. And he’s ahead of Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers. Think about that for a minute. And with the weapons that Ben has at wide receiver and tight end, I think he could throw the ball even more.
- The young defensive backs are making an impact. Has anyone else noticed that Keenan Lewis and Cortez Allen have been making their presence known when they’re given a chance to play? I’m especially impressed by Cortez Allen. He is aggressive on special teams (which is important if he wants to play for Mike Tomlin), and he makes plays when he’s called upon at cornerback. Curtis Brown started the season with an injury, so he’s fallen behind. I doubt that he’ll make an impact this year. But I can’t wait to see him once he gets a full training camp under his belt.
- The no huddle offense is potent. As mentioned earlier, Big Ben is having a career year, and his weapons at receiver are unbelievable. When the Steelers are in their no huddle offense, it’s like watching a video game. They’re practically unstoppable. In fact, the only thing that I can think of that can slow them down is that guy on the sidelines called the “offensive coordinator”. Let’s have more no huddle, and less Bruce.
Those are a few of my observations. What about you, Steeler Nation? What have you learned about the team in the first 10 weeks of the season? Which players have stood out to you, and which ones haven’t played up to their potential? What have the coaches done that has made you happy, and what would you like to see them change?
We’ve got plenty of time until the Steelers’ next game, so share your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you.