For many years in Pittsburgh using the term “re-build” was a bad word. Like top college programs who never are out of the national title picture, the Steelers were never out of a chance to reach the Super Bowl. While many still believe this is a re-load project, the time has come to strongly consider the dirty word.
At 0-4, the Steelers are alive only because the rest of the AFC North is incredibly average. The Browns lead the division for now with three wins while the Bengals and Ravens each have two heading into this weekend’s action.
The Steelers’ obviously feel they can turn this thing around or else they wouldn’t have made the deal for Arizona offensive tackle Levi Brown.
With a week off, the Steelers then travel to New York for a very winnable game against the New York Jets. Dick LeBeau has a tremendous record against teams that start rookie quarterbacks so there is a lot to like about the Steelers’ chance heading into this game.
But…. What happens if they lose and fall to 0-5? Is it then time to start using the bad word ‘re-build’ in the Steel City? I believe it is because at that point you are only kidding yourself if you think you’re making the post-season.
What re-building should look like with the Steelers is pretty clear-cut to me. You have to get guys like Derek Moye and Marcus Wheaton on the field more often. Shamarko Thomas needs to see more consistent playing time and not just in nickel and dime situations.
The team should also look to get more time for Al Woods at the defensive end spot where he would replace Brett Keisel. With Keisel being a free agent, there isn’t much sense in playing him as usual right?
I would also get Hebron Fangupo some more snaps at nose tackle. That’s not a knock on Steve McLendon by any stretch but the Steelers need to see what Fangupo can do in game action. Perhaps get McLendon some snaps at defensive end as well.
Speaking of defensive ends, in the same discussion with Al Woods is of course Cam Heyward who has seen more time recently but he is by no means a guarantee to be around after next year. Get him on the field more often.
Linebacker is a spot where we are already seeing Vince Williams and Kion Wilson paired up with Lawrence Timmons so that speaks for itself.
It will be interesting to see how the Steelers react should the season get totally away from them in the next weeks. Pay closest attention to not just the personnel they are using but also the terminology they use. There is a big difference between ‘re-load’ and ‘re-build.’
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 630pm ET talking Steelers.