I texted family Sunday night with a “woo hoo!” when I read that Steelers Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had an MCL sprain and would miss 6 weeks instead of the rest of the season.
Initially I was happy that we had really the best we could hope for, and I still am. That being said though, that injury still may have tanked the Steelers’ season.
I was one of the few not up in arms when the Steelers signed Michael Vick a few weeks ago, because honestly he was the best option available, but that doesn’t mean we’re in a great position now with him starting.
Vick has some impressive arm talent, and even though he’s lost some of his speed he’s still an impressive athlete at the QB position. His problem is, and always has been, that he turns the ball over a lot… In limited action Sunday he fumbled once (which was recovered by the Steelers), dropped another ball going out of bounds, and threw a short pass that should’ve been intercepted but was dropped.
While the Steelers’ young defense has looked pretty impressive the past 2 weeks, they haven’t exactly played the best offensive talent. The 49ers rank 23rd in the league in total offense, and the Rams rank dead last.
This defense isn’t capable of playing well if they have to make a lot of stops on short fields because the offense is turning the ball over.
I’ll chalk up Vick’s deer in the headlights look Sunday to lack of first team reps. He should look a little better Thursday night with a week of practice as the starter (albeit a short one).
Todd Haley, for all his warts, is an offensive coordinator that thrives on molding his scheme to his talent, so I expect him to try and mask Vick’s deficiencies. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some read-option plays and designed roll-outs on Thursday against the Ravens.
Vick showed some chemistry with Martavis Bryant in pre-season and Vick’s arm has always been better suited to going deep than a high-volume dink and dunk game to a receiver like Antonio Brown, so that’s something to keep an eye on once Bryant returns.
If the Steelers are going to survive these 6 weeks though, it will be on the shoulders of Le’Veon Bell. Bell is capable of carrying the offense, and controlling the clock will be important to help out the defense.
I’m not saying the playoffs are impossible at this point. If Vick could go .500 in Ben’s absence and the defense starts to gel in that time, and we get him and Pouncey back around the same time… this team could be a really really dangerous playoff team. That seems like the long shot though.
If the team goes something like 1-5 in the next 6, and yes that’s very possible with their schedule, it will very likely be too much for the Steelers to overcome, even when Ben Roethlisberger returns.