STEELER WEEK #3 (Contain and Win)
Last week's 26-21 win over Denver was as close as the final score indicated and things could have turned out differently if not for the boneheadedness of a familiar foe on the Broncos coaching staff. No, not Offensive Line Coach Mike Munchak, but rather, Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur. With the Broncos in the red zone and needing just two yards on third down to keep driving for what could have been the go-ahead score, the ex-Cleveland Browns head coach called successive passing plays when he had an all-world back in Melvin Gordon. That bit of ineptness among other questionable play calling moves during the game underscored the fact that Shurmur is a former dawg who has carried his bone to a new team.
The win left the Steelers 2-and-0 and the bandwagon is starting to fill up with those who rank them a top five team. Well, as I told a scribe in the pressbox Sunday when asked if they are among the league's elite teams; "It's way too early to tell." Beating the lowly Giants was expected, beating the middling Broncos at home was expected and a win over this week's opponent, the wayward Houston is expected as well.
Despite the tidings of good things to come there are a couple of team areas that may be a bit concerning. Ben Roethlisberger needs more protection from the offensive line. Injuries can't be excused because of the Next-Man-Up mentality. Ben's passing and timing with receivers is getting to the point where its razor sharp but they are going to struggle with teams that can bring a strong pass rush and blitzes. It really looks every time he's pressured or takes a big hit this season, Steeler coaches and Nation will hold their collective breaths. That other concerning thing is linebacker coverage. Unless you are in denial, left inside linebacker Devon Bush seemed to be the weak link the Broncos discovered. He was seen trailing opposing receivers on numerous plays so his pass recognition and coverage skills need improvement.
So what about the Texans? They played Baltimore last week and had their spurs handed to them 33-16. I'm sure when watching tape of the game, the coaches reminded themselves and Steeler players to make sure they focused on the team they're going to play as opposed to the one in their own division. It hard not to notice the Ravens, but the eyes and energy on them need not be spent for one second before they prepare to meet for the first time this season October 25th. They will however notice the cracks in the Texans defense that allowed 230 yards rushing and how they could not stop developing passer Lamar Jackson from spreading the ball around to eleven different targets. Equally noticeable will be the lack of playmakers on the Texans roster. Since shipping wide receiver DeAndre' Hopkins to Arizona, no one seems like they are capable of joining quarterback DeShaun Watson as part of a dynamic duo. It's also quite evident that Houston's offensive line problems haven't been fixed and the quarterback will continue to run for his life when not handing the ball off to former Cardinal runningback David Johnson. All of this adds up to Pittsburgh 3-0, Houston 0-3.
If they win this game the Steelers will really enjoy the week three Monday night game between Kansas City and Baltimore. The Chiefs and Ravens will be a match for early AFC supremacy and the Steelers could end up with a one game lead in the AFC North heading into week 4. Cleveland should win this week. Should they lose to an already reeling Washington Football Team, they're gonna be in deep dawg stuff all season. One of the week's most interesting games has Cincinnati at Philadelphia. Bengals rookie Joe Burrow is fun to watch and if their defense can force Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz into a few third and longs, they may just pull off a mild upset.
The eye opening game of the week: LA Rams at Buffalo. The Bills will up their record to 3-0.