Steelers: Not the time to panic


Heading into the 2015 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers were truly looking to become the best offense in the league, and had their sights set as high as a championship.

Through the first two games, the Steelers offense was no disappointment. Despite the loss in Week 1, the offense still managed to shine without key players in running back Le’Veon Bell and wide receiver Martavis Bryant. In Week 2, the Steelers offense boomed, and piled up 43 points on a 49ers team that hadn’t allowed a touchdown the week before. The offense was in full form, and looked to score at will on any opponent they faced.

This Sunday, disaster struck the team. Ben Roethlisberger went down with a sprained MCL, and will likely miss between 4-6 games. In football, every game is pivotal, and when a team is missing possibly the most important player on the team, and surely the leader, it’s definitely difficult to stay afloat, especially in one of the more competitive divisions in football.

Despite this heavy blow to the team, it’s not time to panic…yet.

The Steelers acquired veteran quarterback Michael Vick in the late summer after backup Bruce Gradkowski went down with a season ending injury. While a controversial pick up at the time, it seems the decision to sign the speedster could play an important one. Imagine, had the Steelers not signed Vick, it’s likely they’d be scrambling to find a free agent quarterback and prepare him for a game immediately, or even worse, throw a helmet on Landry Jones and hope for the best.

Sep 27, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Michael Vick (2) and head coach Mike Tomlin celebrate as they walk off the field after defeating the St. Louis Rams 12-6 at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Tomlin put it nicely in a press conference when discussing Vick, saying “this isn’t his first rodeo” and it isn’t. He’s a veteran, and knows the game very well.

Michael Vick is definitely not the player he used to be. On the Falcons, in the early 2000s, Vick was one of the most exciting players to watch, and showcased speed unlike any quarterback in that day and age. After an ugly run up with the law, including a few years in prison, Vick found himself on the Eagles where he never found the stardom of before, but definitely still had some gas in his tank, and played fairly well.

Last season, Vick spent his year backing up Geno Smith on the New York Jets. During the time he was on the field, he really didn’t play well, and received a lot of criticism for his “loose cannon” style of play, becoming a turnover machine.

Following Roethlisberger’s injury, a lot of the criticism from last season poured onto Michael Vick, and many analysts have pointed to this being the end of the Steelers season, which it very well could be, but it might not be.

One flaw in carrying over the criticism from last season with Vick is that there’s a huge difference between the Steelers offense and the Jets offense. Last season, the Jets really had no great wide receivers, relying on Eric Decker, and later on in the season, Percy Harvin. Vick didn’t have star Brandon Marshall to throw to, and they also didn’t have a great run game to rely on.

The Steelers’ offense, even without Ben, is still very powerful. Le’Veon Bell is still one of the best running backs in the league, and the Steelers could easily rely on him a lot. It’s also nice to note the weapons that Vick has. He has Antonio Brown, who is very likely the best receiver in the league. He also has Le’Veon Bell, who has proven to be a great receiving threat (and Vick learned that on his first pass as a Steeler). He’s got Heath Miller, Markus Wheaton, and even Darrius Heyward-Bey has proven to be a decent receiver this year.

All in all, the Steelers may be the best offense Vick has ever worked with, and while he may not be completely familiar with the offensive schemes by Thursday against the Ravens, one can be certain the Steelers will have the quarterback prepared and ready to go throughout the team’s long break, having an entire week off, and not playing until the following Monday night.

It’s also fair to note that if the defense steps up like they did against the Rams, that would go a long way to ensuring that Pittsburgh stays afloat in the playoff battle. As Vick said in a press conference on Sunday, “I have to hold it down until #7 gets back” and boy do we hope he does.

Next: Steelers vs Ravens: Tomlin Tuesday

More from Still Curtain