by Bill Neal, For New Pittsburgh Courier
:10—Now that your Pittsburgh Steelers have leveled off with a 4-4 record with the help of one of the NFL’s all-time greatest place kickers, Adam Vinatieri, let’s take a close look as we move forward to our rightful place in the playoffs regarding those things you think you know…but you really don’t! And don’t thank me, that’s what I am here for. My purpose in life is to help you and my good friend “Carol” really understand the game.
:09—Special teams: Part 1, the kicking game—given that he pretty much defeated the Indy Colts by himself, let’s get a true understanding about Chris Boswell. He’s back to glory and meeting expectations. In my humble opinion, last year’s misery was not a mental problem, but rather a physical one. I contend that he was hurt, and the very smart management kept it under-wraps. (Get it…hurt, under-wraps). To that point, his 51-yarder and his booming into the end zone on kickoffs clearly says he’s back. And when there is a run-back on a kickoff, we’ve covered well.
:08—Special Teams: Part T, the receiving game—well, it’s Ryan Switzer catching the ball. Clearly all the coach wants is someone that won’t fumble it. Never mind if he can run 20 yards with it. I’m just saying!
:07—The Quarterback: Please tell me you didn’t think that Mason Rudolph was going to be the second coming of “Big Ben” Roethlisberger? What…Ben Roethlisberger hasn’t been the second coming of Ben Roethlisberger or are you forgetting his less-than-admirable end of last season and bowing down he was forced into by the once unbeatable Tom Brady. Ben is out, Devlin “Duck” Hodges won’t play unless Mason Rudolph gets knocked cold again, no matter what you wish for. And you have no idea who Paxton Lynch is…oh he is the last QB for the Steelers.
:06—Running Backs: A little bit by committee, no matter what James Conner does, some of you just aren’t going to be happy even when he runs up 150 yards, but when he’s not hurt, he’s your man. Yep, I wish he would stop getting hurt, too. But tell you wannabe’s something…you suit up and get back to me. The game is more brutal then you can ever imagine. Also, Jaylen Samuels proved to be a better receiving back than running, but as you know, you take what you can get. Benny Snell Jr. thus far has been reputation and possibility. When you add that to hurt??? Trey Edmunds, a decent showing against the Colts tells me he wants to be the man when the next man is up. And Roosevelt Nix is the bull that leads the stable and is irreplaceable.
:05—The “O-Line:” As Cedric the Entertainer would say, “Hey Bro, I don’t know what to tell ya!” By most accounts, the best offensive line in football has become half that. Still a very good pass-blocking group, but they couldn’t open a bag of chips, let alone a hole to run through! Mike Munchak, the former O-Line coach for the Steelers and nine-time Pro Bowler for the Houston Oilers, is clearly the difference. If I am the Rooneys, I open the vault and bring him back. No. 1., everyone has a price, and No. 2, everything starts up front.
:04—The Receivers: You heard it all before, but let’s play true and false. JuJu Smith-Schuster is number one but must step it up? True. Diontae Johnson is a start just waiting to happen? True. James Washington is the possible glue that can bring this receiving corps together? True. Ryan Switzer, I already told ya. And last, the Steelers truly miss and need Antonio Brown? Who???
:03—The Defense, Mannnn!: The “D” is back in a bit way. Cam Heyward and the D-Line is holding steady, but they’ve got a few notches to go before we can call them a good line. Right now, truth be told, they’re OK. The linebackers…T.J. Watt, about to be D-Player of the year; Vince Williams, strong and steady; Anthony Chickillo, better be careful and watch his back…I am just sayin’). Oh please, you were thinking it, too! And, Devin Bush, without question, is a man on a mission and Defensive Rookie of the Year is in his sights. The strongest part of the Steelers defense are without question the D-Backs—Joe Haden—veteran, smart, and strong; Minkah Fitzpatrick—heaven sent, the second-coming of Troy Polamalu; Mike Hilton—the real deal, physical and lightning quick. Steven Nelson—as steady as they come.
:02—Last, but not least, The Coaching Staff: For all you haters out there, Mike Tomlin is not going anywhere and if he gets this team to 8–8 or 9-7, he might be Coach of the Year for this comeback. Randy Fichtner—offensive coordinator, I swear I drew up better plays in the dirt growing up on Banfield Street with my boys in Penn Hills. Keith Butler—defensive coordinator—found the magic water and now he’s getting it done!
:01—Vote Him Out, Vote Him Out, Vote Him Out. You know who!!!
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