There is talk around town about a pick ‘em issue when it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Do you try to improve the defensive secondary or the defensive line? Well, well, well, it doesn’t make that much difference if you don’t have an improved performance from the secondary and the D-line. The negative perimeter issues are going to surface anyway.
The offensive strategy of the NFL has evolved drastically. It is pass happy, happier and happiest. There is nothing that makes quarterbacks smile more than an offensive coordinator that views running backs and tight ends as extra receivers or extra blockers protecting the quarterback so that he can have enough time to complete passes to his normal complement of wide-outs.
The Steelers must develop a formidable pass rushing machine in order to remain at a high competitive level. If you are not getting adequate pressure on the QB in this day and age, I do not care if you have Hall-of-Fame corners, Rod Woodson on one side, Mel Blount on the other and have headhunters like ex-Steelers safeties Donnie Shell and Carnell Lake patrolling the demilitarized zone (across the middle), if you are not getting pressure and sacks on the quarterback the above mentioned defensive backs will get regularly beat like the favorite drum of Pocahontas.
Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning have all proven that when a defense has prepared to stop the run, well let’s just say that you can slow down the pace of the game but you cannot ultimately win the battle with the scoreboard.
The Steelers need a monster pass rush, post haste. They also need a strong safety that is going to spend more time roaming the middle than roaming the sidelines. Although he is one of my favorites, linebacker James Farrior should be used in emergency situations only. Folks keep saying; “Farrior is good on first and second down, (general running downs) but has become ineffective on third down. Do you think opposing teams are going to sleep that little bit of info and not try to isolate him with one of those warp speed running backs, tight ends or wide receivers on first and second down? Quit whining about the defensive secondary. If the Steelers do not develop a formidable pass rush, let’s just say that success will be on the back burner. Teams are getting geeked, juiced and hyped just waiting for the Steelers to line up to stop the run because that is when the bloodletting begins.
There is another thing about Pittsburgh sports that concerns me. The fans love winning but a certain image has to accompany it. The Pittsburgh faithful seem to think that they have to relate to and be connected with the athletes that perform on the field. They use words like “blue collar,” “salt of the earth” and “humble” to describe how they perceive an athlete. I have never looked upon a man who makes 20 million dollars per year as “blue collar.” Do you wanna know why? What worker in any local steel mill, metal fabricating plant or other industrial gig, punches out at the end of a particularly grimy, dusty, lung killing day that rakes in one or two million a day just to pour the steel or manufacture any related products to it? The athletes that these poor, misguided souls are desperately attempting to identify with are performers that oftentimes buy meals that cost more than the average mortgage.
There are times when athletes are not in the mood to engage the public. They may not feel up to signing an autograph for Johnny or Jenny. That does not make them stuck up, arrogant or “siditty.”
As far as humble goes; how many of our neighbors instantly trip as soon as they get that new house, new car or that new pair of shoes? Us ordinary folk trip on far less but demand that athletes who entertain us be far more accessible and attuned with our demands simply because we indirectly help sustain the sports industry that pays their salaries.
When beams of steel are manufactured and used to build structures all across the planet, the architects and builders pay the salaries of the men and women that manufacture the goods but they don’t expect them to come and take out the trash or shovel their snow. They have completed their task. Once an athlete leaves the basketball court, gridiron, or baseball diamond, their obligation to the public has been fulfilled. As long as they perform to the best of their ability, they should receive no “static” from me, you or anyone else. If an athlete or entertainer receives a DUI citation, well that is their problem. Little Joey should be observing your behavior and emulating you, not some sports and entertainment figure. If he is copying the behavior of anyone but you, could that be an indicator that maybe your parenting skills are lacking? As MJ might say, don’t look at anyone else; spend a little extra time gazing in the mirror.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741.)