Yes, folks! It's my favorite time of the week. OK, I'm overstating it. It's "Know your enemy," Steelers Edition. This week, I ask 5 questions regarding the state of Steelers to Bam Morris (Not sure if he's that Bam Morris, but you can ask him) of Blitzburgh blog. Of course, you can march over to his blog to read the questions that I answered regarding the state of the Bills.
Q1: When the whole Big Ben scandal broke out, it seemed like everyone from the media to the fans were sick of his attitude. How bad did it get in Pittsburgh with his fallout? Did fans really want to see him get traded? How are fans treating him now? (Click "Read more" for the rest of the article)
A1: It got pretty bad. The call-in shows were littered with people who wanted him traded or banned from the NFL. Steeler fans have a pretty big sense of entitlement when it comes to the "character" of the Steelers. I'd say 75 percent of the team's fans believe that the Steelers operate the franchise on higher moral ground than all of the other teams, which I don't believe is true. They thought that keeping Roethlisberger on the team was a violation of some unwritten 'Code of Honor' that the team should follow. But once training camp started, the attitude towards him started changing. I think fans started remembering that he was never actually guilty of anything in the eyes of the law. He was cheered throughout training camp and at Heinz Field this season. I think most fans are at the point now where they realize that he is a douchebag, but he's our douchebag (and a very good QB).
Q2: What is going on with Hines Ward? He seems to be struggling this year, as he’s on pace to grab a measly 55 receptions. Is mother nature catching up to him? Is it because Mike Wallace is becoming the best WR on the squad?
A2: Ward is certainly a step or two slower than he was, but he is still a great WR. The main reason his numbers are down is because of the four games the Steelers played without a solid QB for the first four games of the year. Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon combined to only throw 3 TDs in those game. Ward also missed all but a few plays of the game against the Patriots. Ward is still the go-to receiver for Big Ben.
Q3: What happen in the game against the Patriots? The Steelers defense is made up of all-pros and a HOF defensive coordinator, and yet, Tom Brady sliced and dice the defense. I know Tom Brady is a future HOF, but he made that defense look like UFL quality. Are you concerned about the defense against elite offenses?
A3: I am only concerned about the defense against a quick passing game with an accurate QB and a great offensive line. Teams like the Saints and Patriots can embarrass the Steelers with a bunch of quick slants and outs because it neutralizes the Pittsburgh pass rush and exposes a mediocre group of corners. An elite offense based on running the ball or one with a shaky offensive line is still in plenty of trouble against Pittsburgh. New England has been the only offense to consistently give the Steelers problems though. Brady knows how best to attack it and while teams can think about duplicating that attack, there is only one Tom Brady out there.
Q4: I’ll keep this short: Why the hell is Jonathan Scott on your team? We had him last year and he was awful. Actually, the real question is regarding the Steelers pass protection. Big Ben has a reputation of being sacked a ton, is the omen of pass protection on him or the offensive line?
A4: The Steelers already mediocre offensive line has turned into a terrible one because of injuries. Scott is the 4th offensive tackle on the depth chart, which I'm fine with. What hurts is that two of the tackles ahead of him are out for the season and the other (Flozell Adams) is a million years old and gets banged up every week. We know Scott sucks and so do the Steelers, but there aren't any other options left at this point. While every position on the line has experienced injuries, a lot of the sacks can be attributed to Roethlisberger. He hold on to the ball longer than any other QB. A lot of times this is frustrating to watch and ends up in a sack, but there are a few plays a game that every other QB in the league goes down on that Roethlisberger turns into a big passing play. That makes the sacks worth it.
Q5: Can you explain why the Steelers have always been consistent when it comes to fielding a team? Since 1992, the Steelers have been the class of replacing players, who are lost to free agency, with guys who end up being better than their predecessors. Even when Bill Cowher left, the team still doesn’t miss a beat.
A5: Great drafting, great coaching, great ownership. Winning is simply a part of the Steelers. I can quickly name all of the years in my lifetime in which the Steelers missed the playoffs. It doesn't happen often. The fans, owners, and coaches expect this to be a great team every year and that mentality trickles down to the players. It helps when you have coaches like Cowher and Tomlin around too. The Steelers will pick a head coach and stick to him for years and years. The team has had three head coaches since the early 70s. That is a big part of why they are successful. And the front office always does a good job of evaluating talent and selecting the right players for the systems. Willie Parker and James Harrison were both undrafted free agents. The Steelers only drafted one QB highly in recent years and they hit a home run. That kind of consistency over a number of years will make any team a good one.