...for a Steelers fan who likes to analyze (and write).
In the aftermath of Thursday's game with the Titans, Steelers fans have written volumes on web pages about the strengths and weaknesses of the team. After one game, we've got the team pretty well summed up. Here's what we know to be true:
1. The defense is once again dominant - Against what is arguably one of the best offense lines in the NFL, the run defense was stout, and except for two nice runs by Chris Johnson, Tennessee's running numbers were as bad as the Steelers'
If we remove the 32- and 17-yard runs by Johnson, Tennessee had 37 yards on 23 totes, for 1.61 yards per carry; the Steelers, of course, had 36 yards on 23 carries for 1.57 YPC.
In the passing game, Tennessee's Kerry Collins is a veteran quarterback who gets rid of the ball quickly. Consequently, he's tough to sack. The Steelers did put enough pressure on Collins to keep the scoring to a minimum (10 points). The touchdown drive after Troy Polamalu went out was the only exception, which was also the only drive that produced a big play in the Titan passing game.
This defense has 3 players that can take over a game: Troy (as the first half showed), James Harrison (look to last season as proof) and Casey Hampton, who was the primary reason why Tennessee couldn't run the ball. Any fan that watches the line play knows how valuable Casey is to this team. The Steelers need to recognize this and resign him, age notwithstanding. But I digress.
2. Big Ben is at the top of the NFL QB class - This year the world will finally see exactly how special Ben is, with his John Elway-like quality of taking the team on his back and willing it to victory.
The reason for this world revelation is the weakness of the running game (see point three below). Ben's stats, as well as Santonio Holmes' and Heath Miller's, should be good enough this year to prove to the unfamiliar what Ben is capable of.
The point is, it takes stats for some people to realize how great a player is, as ridiculous as that sounds. At this point in their respective careers, I'd take Ben over Brady or Manning (either one).
3. The running game reeks - This has to be the most talked about issue of the Steelers' short season.
Opinions on the source of the problem range from the running backs, to the offensive line, to the coaches. The fact is, it's all of the above.
So, I've finally come to the reason for this article. Here it is Monday, after the first game and we still have six more days until the next game.
Had this been a normal week (game played on Sunday), we'd have had the same discussions on the topics above, but it would be Thursday and we'd turn our attention to the Bears (the Steelers next opponent).
Topics of discussion would range from: the Bears may not be as good as we initially thought (they looked pretty bad offensively last night); or that we can't wait for James and Lamar Odom to be introduced to Jay Cutler somewhere in the Bears backfield; or that Mike Wallace should catch a deep ball this game, if Ben can get it out there to him accurately (did anybody see how easy it was for Jennings to get open deep?).
Instead, we're sitting here on Monday still wondering about the identity of the 2009 Steelers after game one.
Here's hoping the Steelers give us something new to write about after this game (and all the others) that's different thn the three topics listed above. Otherwise, it could be a boring season...for a writer.
For a fan, if they win, nothing else matters. The only downside to winning another Super Bowl is the 10-day layoff after the first game next season.
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