A clapback at Pittsburgh Steelers first half of the 2018 regular season
It’s no surprise the Pittsburgh Steelers turned this season around.
The Steelers have proven once again in the first half of this season, that they are a team not to be counted out no matter what it looks like. The many slow starts that the team has experienced over the years have alarmed the most shallow of fans of Steelervilization; the more ardent fans though have always stayed the course.
In the 2011, 2014, 2015 seasons they started 2-2, only to come roaring back to make the playoffs. The pitchforks and torches were out then as well as they have been for the better part of this season.
You stink, you stink and you stink, everybody from Tomlin to the ball boys caught the wrath of both the media and the fans. Let’s do a “self-check.”
The offense has been a mixed bag of results based on the talent that the Steelers have at almost every position. Big Ben’s performance in the first half of the season was uneven in most of the games and some people may attribute it to a lack of work in preseason games. I think it was more of getting comfortable with new offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner play calling and being on the same page.
Then the weapons at his disposal, Antonio Brown (now trending up), JuJu Smith Schuster, Vance McDonald/Jesse James (both Tight Ends are making their mark) and to a lesser extent the third wide receiver position, have also had to grow into peak performances on a weekly basis.
Injuries have been the story of the offensive line and continuity is most important when you’re trying to dominate in the trenches. The starting five of Alejandro Villanueva, Ramon Foster, Maurkice Pouncey, David DeCastro, and Marcus Gilbert along with the “next men up,” B.J Finney and Matt Feiler. They have kept Big Ben cleaned and have paved the way for James Connor to wreck defenses like a grown man, sending bodies to the ground like road kill.
The line is at full strength now and ready for the second part of the season. All phases of the offense were in growth mode and the best is yet to come because that third receiver will poke his head through to round out the dynamic receiving corps.
Above all of that when you have a future Hall of Famer named “Big Ben” at the helm. The Steelers are never out of the game until the clock strikes midnight.
The defense has been in constant flux at the second (linebackers) and third levels (secondary) due to inconsistent play. The defensive front of Heyward, Hargrave, and Tuitt are eating offensive linemen from their lunch pail effort which is allowing for the blitz packages to get home to the tune of leading the league in sacks thus far.
T.J. Watt is tied for the league in sacks and Bud Dupree is applying good pressure but has a lot of work to do. Bostic is sufficient in run support but insufficient in pass coverage and Vince Williams injury was a setback to the linebacking unit. L.J. Fort filled in admirably but the inside play has not been to the “standard”. They are definitely a work in progress.
When healthy the secondary is growing into a solid unit anchored by Joe Haden who has resorted back to his lockdown abilities in almost All-Pro form. Sean Davis is maturing into his new position at free safety and Terrell Edmunds in his rookie season is experiencing bumps and bruises while learning on the fly. The team misses the veteran presence of Morgan Burnett at the strong safety spot who is a good communicator and good cover man.
Mike Hilton showed his importance when he was out with an injury and at this point of his career, is worthy of a long-term contract. Artie Burns was counted upon to solidify that spot opposite Haden, but simply has not played well and I am being kind. Let’s hope that the “bye” week gives him a chance to reflect and gain his confidence back going into the second half of the season.
The Coaches have been implementing new schemes and teaching new techniques to the players. I have seen good in-game adjustments coming off of game plans that are designed to put the players in winning positions. Sometimes the executions have not been precise but at lease, they are seeing the game much better as the season is progressing. If the past two games are any indication, the coaches are starting to get a rhythm with their game planning and are presenting a typically stronger Steelers team to be reckoned with on the field.
There was a lot of growth that the team had to experience across the board, from the coaches to the players. Of course, that maturation is still an ongoing process but the signs are positive, so at least the trajectory is pointing upward. However, all of the naysayers didn’t consider that processor looked at the big picture in terms of how the team was developing. StrapUp and the crew were paying attention and we now want to throw “shade” on a BUNCH of people including the naysayers that had a lot of microphone chatter.
The following, please line up for your “Clap Back”! The crew debated about who deserved the first of the “Clap Backs” and it was unanimous…the “Talking Heads” on the boobtube. Dudes were clowning the Steelers like a rundown circus leaving town without paying the bill. I will give these Bozos the benefit of the doubt by letting them remain nameless, but you will know them by their loud voices and equally loud suits. You will also know them by their football past as washed up QB’s that never won anything and WR’s that left the game, not on their own accord. Lastly, you will know them by their expert analysis that turns out not to be so expert. “Talking Heads,” enjoy the shade.
Other teams’ writers have been equally offensive with their prognostications regarding the pending games for that week. They talked about what their team was going to do to us and that we were an easy win. These aren’t your grandfather’s Steelers, they’re in rebuild mode and our Buccaneers, Falcons, and Bengals are.