Inside Conditions…Too little, too late

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NBC’s weather guru otherwise known as Al “the tornado” Roker has one of the best Sunday night promos for the NFL’s great post Christian Sabbath meal game.  Roker bellows in his baritone voice; “it’s  Sunday” and the phrase continues to somewhere out into the stratosphere unknown thanks to the National Broadcasting Companies expert audio team.

Last Sunday night at least as far as the weather goes the city of  Pittsburgh turned into “Siberia junior.” I “plied” my trade from the confines of the press box and heck it was even cold up there.  I cannot even remotely begin to imagine for whatever reason aside from being a player making mega millions that I would spend sixty minutes hanging around on the frozen “tundra” of any gridiron located in one of the NFL’s dome less stadiums situated in the American Northeast or Midwest area.

As we all know every Steelers game is sold out even if all of the paid public does not show up.

All of the fans might not have shown up Sunday night but “betcha by golly wow” the Pittsburgh Steelers swaggered through and confirmed a few things for this writer along the way.

First and foremost, there is nothing, nada, zilch, zero, zip, nil with the Steelers offense or defense.  When Ben Roethlisberger does not turn the ball over “trying” to make a splash play downfield and takes what the opposing defense give him and when then the Steelers defense plays and executes the defense that they are instructed to play, the Pittsburgh squad represents a formidable opponent for any of the 31 other NFL teams.

No matter what their won, loss record may indicate the Pittsburgh Steelers can beat any team on any given Sunday. However, these “excellent performances” may be “too little, too late.”

When Pittsburgh’s offense sticks to the game plan of the Steelers Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley regarding a decent 3.0-3.5 per carry average running game along with a 10-15 yard average per pass that play selection will cause most NFL defenses to leave the playing field with their heads bowed after the game ending gun sounds. Also, when the Steelers defense keeps any offense “in front of them” and imitates the average “chiropractor” on opposing wide receivers when they do catch the ball, well let’s put it this way; “The Nutcracker Suite” might not be so sweet for opposing NFL Offensive Coordinators.

But there are still a few “warts” that have to be removed from the Steelers offensive and defensive performances.

In more than one game during the 2013 season the defense against the run was less than stellar. Pittsburgh did put the brakes on the Bengals nasty running game.

Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin made mention the that “small fact.”

“We were ahead, so they were throwing the ball a lot. I wouldn’t necessarily say we solved any run issues if we have them. It’s just the nature of the game. They had to throw the ball a lot in the second half. They were down by multiple scores.”

Tomlin also made mention that the overall performance was far from perfect by pointing out that the Steelers missed out on more than a few chances to put the game out of reach by having to settle for a few field goals as opposed to scoring touchdowns.

When he was asked about the missed offensive scoring opportunities he said; “Certainly we did. We kicked three field goals. I’m glad we’ve got Shaun Suisham. We don’t want to utilize him that much unless it’s extra points.” three touchdowns as opposed to three field goals ups the “ante” from 9 points to 21 points.  Instead of a 10 point win for Pittsburgh it could have been a 21 point win and although the Steelers have a slim, slim, very slim chance of reaching the 2013 postseason, what if something mundane like points for and points against happened to be the difference from playing in February 2014 or playing “couch potato.”

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a bit “long in the tooth” on defense as far as the principals in the secondary but the defense is retooling and seems to have a promising future. Pittsburgh definitely has one of the younger offenses in the league if you remove quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, tight end Heath Miller and wide receiver Jericho Cotchery from the mix but ya know what?  With the weapons that they have on offense and with the offensive philosophy of their O.C. Todd Haley they should be primed and “ready for Bear.”

However, from the quarterback down to the offensive line, patience is the key.  My grandpap used to say in a very loud and forceful voice from the pulpit  when someone was crying out in prayer for that new house or new car. “Sometimes the prayers of the “greedy” end up becoming the prayers of the “needy.”

There were many occasions on which the Pittsburgh Steelers should have settled for eight small plays but the offense could not be satisfied unless they were able to complete one or two “big splash” plays.

Also, the defense is far from blameless as well. How many times have you seen the Steelers safeties peeking into the backfield of opposing offenses reacting to a totally bogus play action, “sleight of handoff”  by the quarterback only to be beaten badly over the top.

There is no acceptable excuse for the Steelers not preparing to enter the post season but ya know what boys’ and girls’?  The chickens have not only come home to roost they have pooped on all of the cars that the owner thought were safely under the “big tree.”

Get it out of your heads now, Steelers nation. Many players of the Black and Gold are auditioning for a roster spot in 2014 because let’s face it. As far as 2103 is concerned it’s a wrap.

Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com or 412.583.6741

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