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Chris Boswell slips as he tries to kick the game-tying field goal in the Steelers’ 24-21 loss to the Oakland Raiders, Dec. 9. (AP PHOTO)

Super Bowl windows typically aren’t open for very long, unless you’re the Patriots.  Seemingly, the Steelers have had a pretty wide open window over the last four years, when they have made the postseason and had the Killer B’s.

That window was supposed to be pretty wide open again this year and about a month ago, it appeared as though it was possible the Steelers would finally jump through that window and win that elusive 7th Lombardi.

Three losses later and the team is staring at that window shutting on the season and possibly beyond.

As long as Ben Roethlisberger is in town, the Black and Gold will have a chance but the Steelers got a glimpse of their future in the second half of the game against the Raiders, Dec. 9, and it didn’t look pretty.

Knowing full well that Roethlisberger’s days are numbered, the Steelers better recognize they need to take advantage of what they have now, because a rebuild, or at least a retool, is on the horizon.

This all leads me to the first shakeup that needs to take place.  With apologies to Chris Boswell, it’s time to cut ties with the former All Pro.  I am fully aware of what the man did for this team in 2017 and I think any fan or teammate of his can appreciate that.  Just as equally, those same people can appreciate that this is a win now business, especially when your future Hall of Fame quarterback is 36 years old and in the twilight of his career.  Allowing a kicker to literally blow the season cannot and should not happen.

Boswell is the reason the Steelers tied the Browns, he’s the reason they lost to the Raiders and he’s 34th in the league in place kicker field goal percentage (39 kickers have attempted kicks this season).  He’s dead last for any kicker who has attempted 10 or more kicks this year and he’s only made 63 percent of his kicks.  That doesn’t even take into account the five missed point-after attempts, where he’s only making 88 percent of his kicks.

What other job in America allows someone to do 63 percent of their job for greater than three months and allows them to stay? All while paying them millions! Forget 2017, he’s got to go, now!

If the Steelers want to attempt to salvage their season, he’s got to go. If they want to find a way to stash him and allow him an opportunity for next year, fine, but the man cannot and should not kick for this team the remainder of 2018.

When the Patriots come to town this coming Sunday, Dec. 16, Boswell can’t miss anything. It will be bad enough that the defense won’t be able to stop Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski but Boswell cannot leave points on the field. He’s already left 23 of them out there this season.

And that brings me to the defense. The one led by Keith Butler. The one that can’t stop anyone in the fourth quarter, can’t get off the field on third down, can’t create a turnover, can’t get to the quarterback enough, can’t cover tight ends to save their lives and can’t be relied upon to step up when the offense falters.

The defense is just as, if not more, guilty than Boswell for the way the season has unfolded and the three consecutive losses, including the debacle in Oakland to a previously two win Raiders team.

Keith Butler must go. He makes zero adjustments at half time, Phillip Rivers confirmed that (though we all knew it) and he insists with sticking to a game plan despite it’s failures.  He’s literally insane. The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It’s not working, Butler. Change it up!

Now the difference here, with three games to go is this; it would be more detrimental to replace Butler now than it would be after the season but it’s very clear, Butler has to go, period.

I’ve seen enough, I imagine you have, too.

The thought of Bill Belichick coming off a loss last week (in unbelievable fashion against the Miami Dolphins) and headed to Pittsburgh is frightening.  The Patriots own the Steelers, not the Rooneys, and they will prove that again this coming week as they carve up the Steelers’ pathetic defensive unit.

Who is going to cover Rob Gronkowski?  L.J. Fort? Vince Williams?  Jon Bostic?

Who?

The answer is none of them. They may all try, but none will get it done.

And that, folks, is why it’s time for a change.

The Steelers may statistically be in first place in the AFC North and in the playoff picture but after they lose to New England this Sunday, 34-21, they’ll be on the outside looking in.

Changes must occur.

MIKE PELAIA
COURIER STEELERS CENTRAL

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