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The fact the Steelers are 0-3 in their first three preseason games is depressing, considering how the reports out of training camp were predicting great things for the boys in black and yellow.
Many reporters covering Steelers training camp, including myself, said they were looking physical, many players looked noticeably slimmer, LaMarr Woodley being one and most guys—especially the young ones—looked great running drills. It looked like a bounce-back season was inevitable and one still may be but….
Then the Steelers put on the big boy pants against other teams, and things got real ugly, real fast. Too real for some players; there were more penalties in those first three games than Ray Lewis has children. NFL lines at Topbet.eu could have started taking bets on how many mistakes the Steelers would make at the rate things have gone so far.
To be fair, this is only the preseason. It is just a bunch of practice games. Right? A few years back, the Detroit Lions went 4-0 in the preseason and went on to finish the season 0-16. On a brighter note, the 1972 Miami Dolphins were 0-4 during practice time and proceeded to go undefeated and win the Super Bowl. So these games really mean nothing. Or do they? It is hard and unfair to judge a team too harshly based purely on games played in the dog days of summer, when they really don’t count.
What is making some people nervous though, is this is the Pittsburgh Steelers, not the Cleveland Stains, a hardened franchise not known for such stupid mistakes. These type of missteps and injuries derailed last season, and the Steelers faithful, including this guy, fear that history could repeat itself this year if they don’t right the ship soon.
Moral of this story: There isn’t one really, even though nothing is carved in stone, the Steelers need to step up their game and show some discipline. There are a few parts of the game where Pittsburgh really needs to show improvement, and it better happen fast. With only one practice game left, this team needs to realize that losing is never acceptable—no matter what time of year it is.
Some other issues to be concerned about besides the goose egg they have in the W column are:
Le’Veon Bell’s Health
Remember when Bell was going to be the savior? You know when us media types all anointed him the Steelers starting running back? Well, those expectations have been put on hold as he has had trouble fending off the injury bugs thus far during his short career. He missed the first game with a knee issue and only rushed four times for nine yards against the Washington Redskins before leaving the game with a foot injury. Here is the fun part, no one is giving a straight answer as to how bad the injury is. The team is saying he will be back sooner then later but to me that could mean next season.
All that is really known about Bell thus far in his career is he is still a mystery. His health issues have caused the fans to wonder what will be and nothing more as he has missed almost every snap in the preseason so far and there is no indication when he will again suite up and get out on the field of play.
This is obviously a huge blow to Pittsburgh’s offense. Bell was brought in to rejuvenate a terrible rushing attack from a year ago. It looks like we will have to wait to see if he can live up to hype. His injury and those to Issac Redman and LeRod Stephens-Howling’s has prompted the team to trade for the speedy ex-cowboy Felix Jones, which this guy is pretty excited about to be honest.
All I can say is get well soon, Bell. Pittsburgh is counting on you to be the next Jerome Bettis. No pressure. But until then lets hand the rock to Felix and see what he can do.
The Offensive Line
I swear, one day Big Ben is going to wake up dead from some of the hits he takes. The fact he is still alive after playing behind this patchwork offensive line for all these years is nothing short of a miracle.
This was supposed to be the year he finally had a healthy, capable offensive line to protect him. Judging from the first two games, that dream might still be far from a reality. On a postive note, I have to say that during the third preseason game verse the Chiefs, the Oline did look a little better. So hope is not all lost on those kids.
In those first two preseason games, Big Ben was getting sacked and hurried as much as ever. Luckily, he is the master of extending plays; otherwise, Pittsburgh’s offense would be even more ineffective. Giving up eight sacks in two games is like opening a gate and just allowing the quarterback to be pummeled.
During his time as a Steeler, Big Ben has had an appendectomy, motorcycle accident a sad amount of concussions, and, last year, he had one of his ribs pointing dangerously close to his heart. That man needs maximum-security protection. Maybe it is time to wrap Big Ben with some charmin, who knows? It couldn’t hurt could it?
Before we start to plan Big Ben’s wake though, I think it is safe to assume the line will get better and gel as time goes on over the season. I mean they are learning a new system and the zone block scheme is brand new to most of the kids in the trenches. So I am still holding out hope that some of the flashes they have shown thus far turn to gold.
Some Positive Notes:
Jarvis Jones is a beast….. Jarvis Jones is a beast. Yeah I said it, this kid is special and I am predicting he will be remembered for a long time as one of the best Steelers linebackers ever.
Mike Wallace who? This kid Markus Wheaton already looks much better then Wallace ever looked in the black and gold. He runs better routes, plays smarter and has a better work ethic. Not to mention he is damn near as fast as Wally world and has much better hands. You heard it here first or second or maybe last, who knows but you heard it here, Wheaton is a stud and will be the Steelers “BEST” wide-out by seasons end if he can stay healthy.