Earlier this season, Pittsburgh Steelers’ safety Ryan Clark suggested that perhaps many of his teammates had become too complacent and had an expectation of winning by just walking on the field. I saw some truth in his concerns then but now his statements could not be more accurate and they start with Mike Tomlin.
Apparently the loss in Oakland wasn’t enough to awaken this team. Perhaps it was the loss in Tennessee that would motivate them or maybe even the turnover-filled loss in Cleveland would be the catalyst to get this team playing with an edginess again. That would be a resounding ‘no.’
How many lessons does this team need before it starts learning them? Were those early losses not enough to make them pay attention? Did Arizona winning at New England early in the season not signal a need to be ready EVERY week? Did a horrible Jaguars’ team taking Houston to overtime not offer some notice? How on Earth do you show up at home, against a talented, yet severely flawed team and play like it’s a company picnic flag football game?
For several weeks now the offense has come out with the energy of a slug on sleeping pills. There is no push from this offensive line and the backs are hitting the holes with the force of a feather. Isaac Redman’s two running attempts on third and fourth down respectively were horrible. I can’t recall seeing him less aggressive. Sure, we can debate how terrible the play calls were because they were bad, but that doesn’t excuse the total lack of fire, emotion and aggressiveness.
A perfect example of the complacency I speak of was provided by the opponent yesterday. The Chargers faced a third and four around mid-field and had been moving the ball well and converting third downs with relative ease by throwing the ball. Norv Turner elected to go with a run which the Steelers crushed forcing a punt. While Rivers stormed off the field looking like a pouting child, he at least showed some fire and raw emotion. This was coming from a guy and a team that entered at 4-8 with no hope for the playoffs!
Where is this fire and emotion from the Steelers? I’ll tell you where it isn’t… It isn’t in a receiving corps that thinks much too highly of itself and shows up when the outcome is no longer in question. It isn’t in an offensive line that gets zero push and looks disorganized half the time. It isn’t in a head coach who looked for much of yesterday as if if he were witnessing the execution of a close friend. It certainly isn’t in a defense that struggled to create pressure.
Maybe if there is a silver lining in that horrendous performance it’s that the offense looked like it should in the late third and fourth quarters. While the Chargers had clearly called off the dogs, the offense seemed to get some rhythm and continuity tardy though it was. Perhaps Todd Haley saw this and said, “Gee maybe we ought to do this more often?” I doubt it though.
At this point the gameplan is what it is which is suspect. A little raw emotion and fire from this team would be nice now and then. Waiting until after the game, Coach Tomlin, isn’t what I’d call ‘good timing’ either. And for the love of God please don’t ‘Unleash Hell.’ Just some natural, raw emotion and a sense of urgency from this team would be a welcome sight.