The 2011 Pittsburgh Steelers season has come upon Steelers Country like a storm of self-doubt, the first four weeks offering more questions than answers for a squad that was the preseason favorite of many to reach the Super Bowl for the fourth time in seven seasons.
The past week has seen many rain-filled days in Western Pennsylvania, and Steelers fans are pondering their team’s future in a fashion akin to the recent weather. Whether the rain drops are symbolic of falling tears for a successful era meeting an abrupt end or merely beads of sweat from a championship squad seeking immediate improvement, the truth behind the storm clouds developed from four games worth of questions is simple:
The unexpected struggles have caused great uncertainty.
If indeed the final 12 games represent an uphill climb for a team capable of success, the truth behind salvaging the swagger of the Steelers lies in a series of "nots," for both the fans and the franchise itself!
Not being in self-denial, unwilling to admit that some players are past their prime and that the problem lies merely in fundamentals. The slow start is not coincidence, and the apathy of recent hardware will create more problems in 2011.
Not blowing things out of proportion, blinded to the reality that an NFL season is fluid in nature and not tied to rigid notions of good and bad for any team. Teams get better and worse weekly, and the Steelers still have championship talent.
Not giving up, unable to take the season’s first four weeks as a catalyst for change and progression.
Not becoming adverse to change, opposed to sacrificing the playing time of those who are so endeared for the development of the team's youth and future.
Not being robotic, merely giving the public and/or our peers answers that are not actual solutions. Yes, we have to improve on the offensive line, but how? Bickering and solving problems do not equate, either as fans or in team offices.
Not being captured by blind optimism or pessimism, being unaware that the highs and lows are not as extreme as they may seem.
Not giving up.
Cosmetically hidden behind of cake of cynicism (the “lost season” perspective) and denial (the “it happens to everyone” theory) lies the truth for the 2011 Pittsburgh Steelers.
Here are nine doses of reality about the season to-date as well as where things are headed as we gear up for winter. From those who are panicked to those in denial, and even the apathetic, these words are harsh only to cut through the misconceptions bred by disappointment.
While they didn't make the list, here are a couple examples of the types of truisms featured:
1. Forget the Super Bowl. The next 18 months will be the real test of the Tomlin regime's brass.
2. Ben Roethlisberger must develop strategies for a faster release considering the current circumstances on offense. While he has used play extension to set up long gains, this should not be his exclusive weapon, especially considering the current vulnerability.
Most call this a reality check. From one Steelers fan to another, I refer to this session of truth as a Myron Cope (who was ever more honest about the play of this team?) “Terrible Tell.”