On Monday evening the Pittsburgh Steelers stepped onto the finely manicured turf at Paul Brown Stadium to take on the defending AFC North Champion Cincinnati Bengals.
Pittsburgh won by a score of 27-21 but the Black and Gold were just one play away from singing the old semi-bluegrass 1958 hit recorded by the Kingston Trio; “Hang Down Your Head Tom Dooley” or the soon to be hit from the Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens fantasy, oops I meant reality show; “the who dey blues.”
Everyone seems to marvel at how “Big” Ben Roethlisberger time after time broke containment and was able to get away from the “Big Bengals’” pass rushing machine to make something happen downfield. Big Ben seems to almost always want to make a big throw down field but unfortunately he does not have a receiver besides Mike (the Blur) Wallace who can go vertical play after play, causing a bit of moistness to come forth from opposing DB’s at the thought of covering this “Bullet” Bob Hayes look-a-like. Wallace is currently at the top of the leader board in the NFL with a whopping 26 yards per average catch. Big Ben does not have the arm strength to even get the ball to Mr. Wallace in stride. Even with the speed of Wallace at his disposal, folks let’s get this straight; downfield is not the place that Bruce Arians or Big Ben should be focusing on.
Through 8 games in 2010, Hines Ward has 30 catches for 375 yards averaging 12.5 yards per catch. In 2009, Ward snagged 81 balls for 1167 yards and a 12.3 yards per catch. In 2008 he had 81 catches averaging 12.9 yards per catch. The “prodigal son” Antwaan Randle-El through 8 games this year has 12 catches for 139 yards, averaging 17.4 yards per game and 11.6 yards per catch. With the sure handed Heath Miller usually hanging around the slot area, I am positive that opposing linebackers and defensive backs are cringing in fear at the thought of facing “Sir” Heath. Arians should be dinking and dunking opposing defenses until they go blind also mixing in a nice healthy dose of Rashard Mendenhall.
Roethlisberger must learn the same thing that Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Colt McCoy has learned already, scramble to throw the ball away or to run for a first down. No quarterback should exit the pocket ending the escape by throwing into double coverage while on the run because the title of “quarterback” does not translate into “magician.” And as we all can probably figure out; that sort of misplaced effort my friends is almost surely a recipe for disaster. Big Ben almost caused another disaster for the Steelers nation by trying to do too much or attempting to make something happen.
You don’t see Tom Brady or Peyton Manning always “pushing” the envelope. They and their offensive coordinators are astute enough to take what the defense gives them.
The player forever exiled from the Steelers Nation, the notorious blunt toting, drink slingin “Sultan” of the herbs, Jets wide-receiver Santonio Holmes, fresh off a four game suspension for “conduct” unbecoming the commissioner, so sorry Charlie Chan mean “conduct unbecoming to the NFL”, has caught 15 passes for 245 yards from his new post in Gotham City. This is a very healthy average of 16.3 yards per reception. Imagine Holmes on one side and Wallace on the other. Can’t you just hear what the opposing cornerbacks would probably be thinking? Maybe something like “I ain’t fraid of no ghosts” or “where the hell is cover two when you really need it.” Opposing defensive backs would all have to learn the song; “No Man Is an Island” just to calm their nerves. Can you imagine the damage that could have caused by that “dynamic” duo?
I am going to switch gears for a few moments. Did anyone notice the commissioner of the NFL outside of Paul Brown stadium signing autographs? The commissioner, a.k.a. Roger Goodell is now the top cop of professional football. Recently, Troy Polamalu talked about the wimpy pressure packed decisions being made by Mr. Goodell. He said; “its football, you know. If people want to watch soccer then they can watch soccer. But you know he’s got all the power, that may be part of the problem. Getting some players involved in the decision-making process isn’t necessarily a terrible idea-after all, they are affected by the policies.” I disagree with you Troy. The commissioner is more of a problem than the hits.
Instead of signing autographs the commissioner should be signing up some of the boys from MIT or Stanford and endorsing a few research checks drawn from the accounts that contain the “spoils” from fines levied for “illegal” hits. The NFL must use some of that “ill” gotten loot to compensate scientists’ to focus on developing shock absorbing, concussion limiting helmets as well as impact reducing shoulder pads. Don’t just react to the problem, act on finding a solution. The NFL needs better equipment, not smaller hits or bigger fines.
(Contact Aubrey Bruce at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-583-6741.)