Prior to the Steelers/Titans clash at Heinz Field in which the men of Steel gave the fellows from Tennessee their comeuppance by the score of 38-17 there was loads of talk about how much better off Titans quarterback Matt Hasselbeck was since he signed with the Titans. In a recent AP article on Washington Post.com, Hasselbeck himself even said that “You can draw up all the fancy plays that you want and mismatches and personnel groups. But if you can’t block for it, then that stuff’s no good. It’s trash. We’ve got a great group of guys up front playing the offensive line. They’re well-coached, and they just work together as a unit. I mean talk about teamwork. Here [with the Titans] they give it the first priority, and it’s not the case in most places.”
Well, well, well the Pittsburgh Steelers smacked around the Titans almost as if it was the Titans offensive line that was on life support as opposed to the Black and Gold. But wait, in regards to getting it, I suggest that the Black and Gold use the first four rounds of the 2012 draft to “get it” and draft, O-line, O-line, O-line and if anyone worth his salt is available, D-line. Draft a young group that can learn the system together and learn to depend upon themselves, together. Toss the entire group into the furnace so that their mettle can be tried and tested collectively.
This was supposed to be a very close game that was leaning toward the Titans in spite of what the odds makers were saying as opposed to what the “men from Vegas” were really thinking. The truth of the matter is at this point in time the Steelers could barely even field an offensive line to even break the huddle to face the Titans. Hell the Steelers might as well not have even shown up; att, wrong answer. The Titans held the ball until 8:21 of the first quarter. At that point I was thinking hey; here we go again as soon as Big Ben gets the ball just go deep baby, just go deep. However, Steelers wide receiver/kick returner Antonio Brown made short work of the Titans special teams unit returning the ensuing kick-off back to the 50 yard line. I’m sure that was not the way that the special teams coach drew it up because if it was; it was trash.
All of the yelling and screaming that Steelers Head “Honcho” Mike Tomlin allegedly did behind closed doors may have brutalized a few eardrums and tenderized several souls because against the Titans, the offensive line looked like a group of All-Pros that had been together for several years. When things get rough, sometimes we want to rely on self as opposed to those around us. Divide and conquer. See boys and girls the Holy Scriptures tell us that: “The first test Satan gave to Job was to take away all of Job’s animals even killing the servants that were with the animals but Job did not curse God like Satan wanted Job to do.” Job was not trying to get all that he had lost back at once; he remained diligent and was totally focused on survival, just plain making it. There are times, especially in the world of sports and particularly in the brutal realm of professional football, that injuries will destroy a variety of personnel groupings and who your teammates are will vary from minute to minute but they should not be called out even indirectly because their worth and value should not be minimized. They cannot and should not be publicly reprimanded when the “team” falters but allowing the spotlight to shine on one or two individuals when the “team” realizes success. There is an old saying in sports that goes something like this: “you cannot bench the money.” The Steelers are but a year or two away from rebuilding and lo and behold that are not even remotely prepared to face the challenge.
There is a trend developing in the NFL. Draft good young players, throw them into the “Serpentine fire” and let them become hardened by battle. First year quarterbacks Andy Dalton of the Cincy Bengals and Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers have individually taken more snaps than Steelers second or third string quarterback Dennis Dixon has taken in three plus years. There have been several occasions that Big Ben has been “allegedly” injured and instead of taking that week off to recuperate he went out threw two or three picks, lost the game and attributed the poor performance to his injury, the defense, the offensive line or his food stamps not arriving in time but in all fairness to Mr. Roethlisberger, “against the Titans ya done good.” Not let’s see. Coming up to face the Steelers “unleaded” offensive machine are Jacksonville, Arizona, New England and Baltimore. Hmm, will the “O” stutter or soar? Who knows, the Shadow knows.
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741. He can also be heard on the “Odd Couple” sports show as the NFL/AFC North analyst Wednesdays from 11-11:30AM on WCWA 1230AM, Fox Sports Toledo, Ohio.)