Some random thoughts coming out of the Steelers blowout win Sunday night against Kansas City…
- Mike Tomlin continues to be a coach that seems to have trouble motivating his team against “inferior” opponents (though I think they should’ve been more competitive against the Eagles, they are for real) but excels at getting his team hyped when their back is against the wall. He preached “redemption week” and the team delivered.
- I’m not the only one that will say it this week, but the masses are right… Coach Tomlin needs to get Ben Roethlisberger at the very least, and probably lots of other stars, out of the game in situations like Sunday night, and like last week when the game is clearly decided.
- Le’Veon Bell’s return seemed like an afterthought during much of the game, which goes to show what a great night it was all around, when him rushing for 144 yards wasn’t the headline. I was skeptical when I heard the team wanted to figure out how to get Bell and DeAngelo Williams on the field at the same time (as Tomlin has traditionally been a 1 back kind of guy), but it worked well Sunday night.
- Sammie Coates continues to impress, and is even starting to show maybe he’s capable of becoming more than a “one trick pony” as Mike Tomlin once called Mike Wallace. That one trick is still pretty nice though, opening the game with a nice bomb from Big Ben. Early on I said that in order for this offense to go from really good, to great that they would need someone besides the big 3 the step up. If Coates can become more than a field stretcher this offense can be one that carries an inconsistent defense.
- Welcome back Steelers pass rush. Keith Butler finally dialed up the pressure that we were used to seeing in 2015, and it made a huge difference. I understand Butler’s want to “get there with 4” as that’s how you beat elite Quarterbacks like Tom Brady; but it was clear through 3 games that there just wasn’t the talent to do so here. Maybe once Bud Dupree returns you can try it more, but for now go with what works.
- Depth players making their NFL debuts last night shined. Jordan Dangerfield didn’t have his named called often, which is good for a defensive back. B.J. Finney in particular did not look overwhelmed in place of Ramon Foster. Finney was a guy that went undrafted due to a lack of athleticism but many graded has a possible 4th/5th round pick. I see Finney as an obvious replacement once the team decides to move on from the aging Foster.
- Speaking of future starters; Vince Williams looked like a 2017 day 1 starter next to Ryan Shazier. Lawrence Timmons still has value as a locker room vet and run down thumper (he laid some nasty hits on the Chiefs), but with Vince looking ready to start, and solid depth behind him in LJ Fort and Tyler Matakevich it doesn’t make a ton of sense to sign Lawrence Timmons to an extension unless he’s willing to take a big hometown discount.
- Although it wasn’t always pretty, it was nice to see Artie Burns gets plenty of live snaps under his belt while the pressure was off. He has a lot to learn but his physical tools were evident particularly when he used impressive recovery speed to catch up to the blazing fast Tyreek Hill and timed it perfectly to knock the ball away.
- Mike Tomlin needs to keep the energy up this week, with a reeling Jets team coming to Heinz. Ryan Fitzpatrick has been giving the ball up a ton, but that Jets defensive line is even better than the one that just ate the Steelers offensive alive. The next 4 games will have big playoff implications, as they’re all against AFC opponents with the Ravens game being the two division leaders and the Patriots game as a possible tie-breaker down the road for a first round bye in the AFC playoff picture.