Good Wednesday to you Steelers’ fans.
As I sit back on this wintry morning and think about the Steelers’ final two games of the season, I keep coming back to the one guy that I believe will be the difference (offensively that is). As much as I’ve questioned his durability and therefore, availability, I can’t help but think that the key player for this team in New York and Baltimore is James Conner. Allow me to explain. I have no doubt that Conner was on a ‘pitch count’ of sorts Sunday night. Mike Tomlin can shake his head ‘no’ all he wants to but I know what I saw. While Benny Snell and Jaylen Samuels have been serviceable, the offense is lacking burst and Conner is really the only guy who can provide that both in the running game and the receiving game. To go along with that, he’s also the best and most consistent back when it comes to picking up the blitz. I would be very surprised if Conner doesn’t have a minimum of 20 touches this weekend and next. Getting him involved will also help Duck Hodges who will need to get back on track after his poor showing on Sunday night. I see these next two weeks as an opportunity for Conner to show exactly why he thinks he deserves to be in the future plans of the Steelers.
As I alluded to above, Duck Hodges will get the start on Sunday in New York, errrrr, New Jersey. Mike Tomlin made that very clear in his presser yesterday. I will say however that the similarities between his four-interception game and Mason Rudolph’s are quite interesting. Tomlin gave Rudy the start the next week in Cincinnati and was pulled at halftime. Should Duck struggle in the first half against the Jets I have to assume Rudy will get the call. Should that happen and they stick with Hodges? Then I think we have an entirely new topic to discuss about the future of Mason Rudolph.
Tweet of the Day… This is not football related and I apologize but how this man stays alive and continues to make music is beyond me considering the life he has lived. The Stones have been an incredible part of my musical life.
Thinking of Bobby Keys on what would have been his 76th birthday! Both he and I born on the same day and year! A clip from the forthcoming documentary filmed in 2017 entitled “Every Night is Saturday” directed by Jeff Stacey! pic.twitter.com/S2wrwv7AeR
— Keith Richards (@officialKeef) December 17, 2019
Congratulations to Minkah Fitzpatrick, T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward, David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey on their selection to the 2020 NFL Pro Bowl. As we all know, much of this has to do with popularity, name recognition and past performance or reputation. I think DeCastro’s selection is just but I am of the opinion that this has not been a Pro Bowl season for Pouncey. That’s hard for me to say because I like him a lot but I just haven’t seen the normal level of play. He certainly doesn’t care what I think and will no doubt enjoy his time there.
The “Availability” Problem
Mike Tomlin admitted yesterday that the issues in blitz pickup and in the wildcat formation were largely due to the uncertainty over who was going to be available to play. Both Conner and Samuels were ‘limited’ most of the week and they are really the only two you’d use in the wildcat. This raises a significant issue with me. I said immediately after the fumble in the Bills’ red zone that the play looked rushed, unprepared and ill-fated from the start. Tomlin’s comments confirmed that so essentially the formation and play should have never been called. Randy Fichtner has to do better and I realize that’s an understatement.
Have a great day Steeler Nation!
QH is presented by