There are very few times that I am wrong. There are even fewer times that I am happy that I am wrong. However, this past Saturday, Sept. 1, I was proven to be wrong and boy am I glad that I was “incorrecto” because on that day, the unimaginable happened in the court of Steelers Nation.
Landry Jones, the “experienced” backup to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, was cut from the team. Not traded, but exiled from Steelers Nation. There were gasps of horror from the Landry faithful when the news began to circulate. Based on all of the prognostications floating around, I wrote the following in a previous column about the long shot chance of Steelers quarterback Joshua Dobbs making the final 53-man roster.
“(Joshua) Dobbs does not have a chance to make this team…Why? It’s been noted on some websites that “Dobbs has had the strongest preseason of any Steelers quarterback. With Ben Roethlisberger sitting out, Dobbs has taken the increased reps and really showcased just how far he has developed in his second year in the NFL. In fact, through two games he has outplayed rookie Mason Rudolph, the guy who is ultimately going to take his spot on the roster.”
Well, I’ve got “feathers of crow” on the side of my mouth.
However, I also pointed this out about the future that I could foresee regarding the quarterback position of the Steelers. To the chagrin of my talking-head colleagues, I also said: “If I am the decision-maker, I want my veteran signal-caller on the field…but I also want two ‘young bucks’ battling it out on a daily basis to be his understudy, fighting on a daily basis to occupy the ‘second chair,’ ready to perform in the event that the headliner falls flat or is flattened.”
Did someone, somewhere take heed to my advice? Probably not, but the Steelers obviously were thinking about their future as opposed to the safety and “security” of the present by giving Landry Jones his passport to the couch, at least temporarily.
I really think that the morale and spirit will be better served in the locker room now that the current performers for the Steelers may have the gut instinct telling them that, hey, maybe our talent evaluation process is not totally or even partially based on the “buddy system.” Ben Roethlisberger has hinted and at certain times maybe in a very covert way that he was or is considering retirement. Well, maybe the Steelers may be sending out a covert signal of their own by keeping two of the “young guns” (Dobbs and Rudolph) with a genuine hunger to compete and neither of them will be satisfied until they command battle stations instead of manning clipboards.
On to this Sunday, Sept. 9, as the Steelers are preparing to face the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland. The Browns are no longer the Cleveland “Brownies.” If the Steelers ride into “The Mistake by the Lake” and snooze or stumble against the new, retooled Browns, Pittsburgh may return to Steel town, crying in their Iron City beer. The Browns are a young, hungry and talented group, both offensively and defensively. The Steelers cannot afford to lose against teams that they should beat or lose to teams that have comparable talent because the Steelers’ 2018 schedule is brutal, to say the least.
Their home schedule includes the Chiefs, Falcons, Panthers, Patriots and the Chargers. Oh by the way, four of the five teams mentioned made the 2017 playoffs and lest we forget the Armageddon-based AFC North where the Steelers have to face each team in their “bloodthirsty” division twice.
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