The Opinionated Spectator…Preseason Relevance

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Don’t you remember when the Steelers were relevant? The Steelers were an absolute force to be reckoned with. And the preseason was fun.

The starters would come out onto the field, flex their muscles, score their points, and scare their opponents. The preseason was a taste of the ultimate beat down that the Steelers were going to reign on their opponents in the regular season. It was delicious.

Although it was the preseason, the first half of the game was must-see television. It was our own black and gold version of the hunger games.

On Thursday, August 21, 2014, the Steelers lost to Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 31-21 and it wasn’t as close as the score indicates.

What happened to my delicious appetizer?

There is only one word to describe last night’s performance. ABYSMAL

Alexis PNC Park 2Masthead

Alexis Cobb

In terms of the Steelers’ records, this loss means nothing. Zilch. They don’t get penalized for it in the regular season. However, let’s look at this game with our postseason relevancy lenses.

First and foremost, just when the players were gaining confidence from last week’s win against the Buffalo Bills, the players are back to square one. Rather than having to answer questions pertaining to hope and cautious optimism about the team’s future, the veterans must answer questions on losing and the possibility of another postseason absence.

During training camp, Mike Tomlin stated, “We step into stadiums with one goal in mind and that is to win.”
He is right. That has been the goal. Unfortunately, winning has not been the final product.

And after watching Thursday’s game, winning was never an option. At halftime, the starters were losing by 17-0 and the fans were hoping that the Steelers would score to avoid a blowout.

While many people don’t put much stock in the preseason, these preseason losses have been symptomatic of the Steelers regular season and subsequent lack of playoff appearances.

In the 2013 season, the Steelers lost all four preseason games. You think that wasn’t indicative of their actual season? It was. The Steelers started the year with 4 consecutive losses, a bye week and finally managed to beat the NY Jets, which frankly, was nothing to be proud of. Their regular season record was 8-8 and the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t make the postseason.

Also, in the 2012 season, the Steelers once again lost several preseason games and went on to finish the year at 8-8.  They didn’t make the playoffs that year either.

The last time the Steelers qualified to play in the postseason was in 2011. They played against the Denver Broncos and their starting quarterback was Tim Tebow. Tebow singlehandedly beat the Steelers in overtime.

Think about those chilling facts, ladies and gentlemen. The Steelers have been irrelevant for so long that we have to recall when Tim Tebow started for an NFL team to dredge up memories of the Steelers most recent playoff history. That’s unacceptable.

The Steelers need to fix their offensive and defensive problems so they can have a fighting chance at having a successful year and making the playoffs this year. They don’t need to be somewhere biting their nails hoping another team loses so they can snag a wildcard spot.

Many of the Pittsburgh Steeler’s training camp practices have open to the public and the Pittsburgh Steelers fans are famished for some quality football. They cheer for the slightest improvement. They desperately want their team to be relevant again.

Pittsburgh fans think they are entitled to greatness on the football field because they have six championships and a history of prolonged success and relevance.

So while some people may think, hey it’s just a preseason game. No Big Deal. They are wrong.  These games mean something. They give the players a chance to build their confidence. They give teams a chance to build camaraderie. They are the stepping stones that help build the foundation for the upcoming season. And this season’s foundation seems shaky. REALLY REALLY Shaky.

So, I’m asking the Steelers to pull themselves together. Do not be satisfied with being irrelevant and watching others become dominant. Shake off this foolishness, band together as a team and play some winning football.

Alexis Sara Cobb may be reached at:  alexiscobb@ascexec.com or (724) 561-8082  Follow her on Twitter: @alexissara

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