Roethlisberger continued on with his “after the fact” pseudo introspection by telling Will Graves of AP that, “We should be (in the playoffs) if it wasn’t for me.” Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah. Being a leader means doing the right things on the field and off the field including learning all of the systems that your coaches have in place and not being catered to and babied on a minute-by-minute basis. but enough of Sesame Street.
Lets now turn our attention to the “Big Nasty D” of the Black & Gold. The Steelers have officially lost all-universe linebacker James “the sledgehammer” Harrison. His potential replacement on defense was ranked No. 1 in total defense is linebacker Jason Worilds. In 2011 the defense was ranked No. 1, No. 2 in 2010, No. 5 in 2009, No. 1 in 2008.
How can you even let a drop of spit fly from your mouth when you discuss the Steelers defense? Steelers veteran linebacker Larry Foote was smiling when he recently said; “Everybody is always counting us out, talking about our age. The guys in that locker room, we like to prove people wrong, and that’s our nature.” As far as losing linebacker James Harrison is concerned Foote said, “Those are some big shoes to fill. He’s been our hammer around here for quite some time. Guys have to step up and own that spot. [Linebacker Jason] Worilds took some big steps last year. Everybody knows that. We’re going to need him to take another leap for us to get back to the top. We’re going to need [Jarvis] Jones to keep growing and it’s going to be fun seeing those guys battle.”
The real franchise “back” that Pittsburgh cannot afford to be without is cornerback Ike Taylor. Being the top defensive back on the number one overall defense would seem, at least to me, to carry more juice than being the number one quarterback on the 21st ranked offense regardless of how the local sports “scribes” try to “spin” it. After Ike’s ankle injury against the Ravens the Pittsburgh squad proceeded to lose three games in a row and were knocked out of the playoffs.
Talk about franchise “quarterback,” how about franchise “cornerback”? As the 2012 season was rapidly concluding just one defensive stop in the Steelers loss in Dallas to the Cowboy’s 24-20 in overtime or a defensive “stiffening” in their loss to the Bengals 13-10 at Heinz Field the next week would have propelled them into the postseason.
Were the Steelers better or worse off losing Ben Roethlisberger from the 21st ranked offense or losing Ike Taylor from the No. 1 ranked overall defense? The numbers indicate to me and anyone else with a significant amount of brain matter that if Ike Taylor had finished out the 2102 season, the Steelers would have more than likely qualified for at least a wild card berth in the 2012 postseason.
Pittsburgh had better stop trying to be like “Mike” and be more like “Ike.”
(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741)
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