Thursday, September 2, 2010

9 Reasons to Be Pumped About the '10 Steelers

First of all, what's up, TIGO? Yeah, I'm new around here. Big thanks to Brad for the invite. You'll probably hear the most from me about the Steelers, but you'll definitely see me chipping in with posts about other sports, the rest of the NFL, etc.

With that out of the way, the Steelers are just a few hours away from closing out another preseason with the most meaningless preseason game of them all (essentially a scrub tryout), so it's just about time to start turning our attention to the big kahuna. Yeaaaah, buddy. Only 11 days to go and regular season will finally be upon us, so I figured I'd get my stint here rolling with a bang.

I don't know what it is exactly, but even as the diehardest (that word is in my dictionary) of diehard Steelers fans out there -- someone who starts counting down the days every single August -- I don't think I've been this excited for a season in a long time. It might be all the intrigue that built up over the offseason: Big Ben's accusations and suspension, Santonio's Twitter escapades and subsequent exile, Willie Colon's season ending injury, the list goes on and on. You can say it's been a bit on tumultuous side.

I'm not sure how this is going to play out, and maybe that's why it's so damn interesting to me. This team has the potential to go 13-3 and win the Super Bowl, but at the same time it has the potential to turn into a 5-11 trainwreck. The feeling I get from most Stiller fans is that they think the latter will almost certainly be the case. And that might be a big part of my excitement as well. Maybe I just want to see these people be wrong, because I'm extremely optimistic about this year. Here are 9 reasons why you should be, too.

9. The Rookies

Aside from Jonathan Dwyer -- who frankly, has looked flat-out terrible up to this point -- just about every single one of these guys have been turning heads all summer long.

Maurkice Pouncey is an absolute mauler and it's almost certain that he's going to be starting this year.

Speedsters Emmanual Sanders and Antonio Brown will be extremely hard to keep off the field and even though they're rookies, should cause matchup problems when they do with all the speed that will be out there. Despite a few boneheaded plays, Brown also looks like he has the potential to be a decent return guy.

Guys like Stevenson Sylvester and Crezdon Butler have also been making plays throughout the preseason and could be aces on a coverage unit that was horrendous last season.

All in all, they might not be making Sportscenter every weekend, but little contributions here and there could go a long way.

8. The Schedule*

Section 1 (Sans Ben) - Suspect defense in ATL in home opener (they never lose home openers anymore), Tampa Bay (who is just awful), an enigma of a Titans team and a home game against the Ravens (when was the last time the Ravens won in Pittsburgh?). 2-2 or 3-1. Hell, if the commissioner folds tomorrow, Ben might even be back in time for the Ratbirds. Score!

Section 2 (The Cake Teams) - Oakland, Buffalo, Cleveland x2, Carolina and Miamidfpi. Sorry, I started shaking because I'm so scared of those teams. 4-2 or 5-1

Section 3 (The Hard Part) - New England (home game!), New Orleans, Bungles twice, Ratbirds and the Jets (home game!). They'll beat Cinci at least once, I love them in that New England game and I have a feeling they can win 2 out of 3 between New Orleans, Baltimore and the Jets. 3-3 or 4-2.

*The games aren't played in this order, just grouping them together

By my count, that's about a record of 12-4 at best and 9-7 at worst.

7. Mike Wallace

There's difference between a good player and a player who is good because of the players around him. Mike Wallace is no Nate Washington or even Antwaan Randle El. Mike Wallace was good last year because he worked his ass off, and with more expectations this year, he's worked even harder this summer. Desean Jackson-like playmaking ability all season long.

6. Rashard Mendenhall

The guy is a stud, plain and simple. He's going to get the ball more (especially during Ben's suspension), he's going to make plays, and it's only going to help the offense. Look at it this way. For the first four games the gameplan is going to be run, run, run, and run some more, right?

Woops, snuck in a playaction fake and Dontrelle Willis Byron Leftwich is heaving that shit up to Mike Wallace. Peace. Out. Ben may have a little more trouble accurately throwing deep (one of his only major faults) than Lefty, but he'll still get it to him pretty often. Bottom line is that with the speed the receiving corps has, a great running game will set up a DEADLY passing game.

5. The AFC North is completely overrated

The Ravens hype this year is based on four things: Joe Flacco, Anquan Boldin, Ray Rice and the defense. A.) Are any of you scared of Joe Flacco by anything other than by his unibrow? B.) Anquan Boldin has played an entire season ONCE since his rookie year and hasn't had a "great" season since 2006 C.) Starting cornerbacks: Chris Carr and Fabian Washington, Ray Lewis turns 50 next month and Ed Reed is out for the first 6 games of the year -- where they'll face the Jets, Bengals, Steelers and Patriots... all on the road. Good luck carrying that team on your back, Ray Rice.

Do you really think Ochocinco and T.O. is gonna work out? Or the Bengals will be good two years in a row?

The Cleveland Browns are the Cleveland Browns.

4. Mike Tomlin

A lot of people blame Mike Tomlin for how the team flamed out at the end of last year but... really, was it his fault? Why can't we hold the defensive players accountable? Mike Tomlin can't make Tyrone Carter not be the worst fucking safety in the league or William Gay not be able to cover a 5-year-old girl. Even still, they finished out the year with 3 straight wins against some pretty decent squads (Packers, Ravens, Dolphins).

In 2008, they had the "hardest schedule ever", every game was in primetime, their offense was absolutely TERRIBLE and they were losing in the fourth quarter in what seemed like every one of those games. Still got the Lombardi. Mike Tomlin eats adversity for breakfast. Speaking of 2008...

3. Ben Roethlisberger is on the team

All stupid shit aside, I don't care if you like the man still or not. I don't care if he's a rapist or if he's the freaking pope, you CANNOT say he doesn't know how to play football. He's in the best shape of his career, just had the best training camp of his career and if you haven't noticed, absolutely thrives on the moments when he's under the most pressure. Can you get any more pressure than this? Every time a reporter asks him how he plans on getting people to like him again he says one thing: "win". I think he kind of wants it this year.

2. 2008 defense is back

Not to mention that in 2008, they statistically had one of the best defenses of all time. What happened last year? Well for starters, they lost role players like Bryant McFadden and Larry Foote to free agency. So what did they do this year? They went and got them back, because Kevin Colbert is the fucking man. That's what. Every single starter from the 2008 defense is back now, and you have guys like Lawrence Tmmons about to have a breakout year and one of the best young linebackers in LaMarr Woodley getting better every year. But maybe most importantly on defense...

1. Troy Polamalu and Aaron Smith are healthy

You've heard this probably a million times already, but it's the truth. These guys are difference makers. Dick LeBeau's defense is designed so that A. The quarterback has few options and is extremely intimidated because of Troy B. The cornerbacks play soft zones that buy enough time to cover the holes in the secondary while the pass rush to get to the quarterback and C. The defensive line stops the run and gives pass rushers lanes to break through the line. That entire philosophy goes to complete shit without the best safety in the league and the best run-stopping 3-4 defensive lineman in the league. It's a dead horse, but it's a true one. They're back now and they're healthy again. Troy does seem to have an issue with injuries, but keep in mind that it also seems like it alternates for him -- one year he'll play a full season, the next is the injury-ridden one, etc.

Will the defense be as nasty as it was in 2008? Probably not, but it should be pretty stout. And with a defense like that, 2008 proved you don't need an extremely prolific offense to win. But with a better than ever Ben, guys like Mike Wallace and a runningback like Rashard Mendenhall, I think they just might be alright.

1 comment:

Brad said...

"The Cleveland Browns are the Cleveland Browns." Hahahahahaha