NFL isn't always what it seems
Former Cardinals coach Dennis Green experienced one of the NFL's signature meltdowns, almost self-immolating as anger swept through him following a troubling loss to the Bears. That emotion created a memorable and oft-replayed sound bite: “The Bears are what we thought they were!”
However, the NFL isn't always so easy to read.
A team isn't always what it is thought to be. It might touch greatness one week but flirt with futility the next.
A month ago the Steelers (1-2) had concluded training camp and were ready to take on a supposedly rusty Peyton Manning in the season opener. Only what we thought the Steelers were then isn't what they are now.
Then: The schedule sets up for a strong start, especially if the Steelers get by the Broncos. After that, it's the Jets and Eagles at home and the laughable Raiders on the road.
Now: The Steelers could trail the Ravens and/or Bengals by 21⁄2 games if they lose to the Eagles on Sunday. It's not easy playing catch-up when the schedule is only 16 games.
Then: Mike Wallace is a worry. He missed all of training camp, wants a new contract, might not be focused, might not be in shape. And where's his head?
Now: Wallace tries Sunday for a fourth consecutive game with a touchdown catch. Neither his head nor his hands are a concern.
Then: Rashard Mendenhall is hurt, and who knows when he'll play, but the running game is in great shape. “Red Zone” Redman can't be stopped near the goal line, and an in-shape Jonathan Dwyer had a promising preseason. And aren't the Steelers going to re-emphasize the run?
Now: Remember when the Steelers ran the single-wing offense more than 60 years ago? Didn't think so. That's when their running game was this bad.
Then: Lawrence Timmons is poised yet again for a breakout season. He never looked stronger or more prepared than he did in camp.
Now: Timmons is one more average season away from being considered a rare first-round misfire by Kevin Colbert. (Paul Posluszny went 19 picks later.) Timmons' stats are fine, but first-round picks are supposed to be stars, not guys who stand out once a game.
Then: Defensive end Aaron Smith is gone, but he didn't play much the past three seasons, and Brett Keisel can easily replace him as an on-field leader. Ziggy Hood and Cam Heyward are in great physical shape, and it's their time.
Now: Troy Polamalu is still talking about the leadership that's missing with Smith and James Farrior gone. As for Hood, more is expected out of a first-rounder. A lot more. (See above reference to Timmons.)
Then: Shaun Suisham lacks that rocket-launcher leg that many of the NFL's better young kickers have, and he misses some makeable field goals.
Now: Suisham is perfect (5 for 5). No other Steelers player can say that.
Then: Chris Rainey is ready to be the next Darren Sproles. Sprinter-fast, he can turn a 5-yard safety valve pass into a 20-yarder, and the Steelers finally have that big-play kickoff returner they never seem to have. The only worry is he might get overexposed and overworked.
Now: Rainey is touching the ball less than long snapper Greg Warren.
Then: An injured James Harrison isn't ready yet, but Chris Carter was dynamite during camp, and isn't the 3-4 defense designed to channel all the action his way?
Now: Now that Harrison is back, he's going to play, as Mike Tomlin might say, until his wheels come off.
Then: Ben Roethlisberger doesn't have the relationship with Todd Haley that he had with Bruce Arians. This isn't his offense, and he hates dinking and dunking. This could be trouble. Big trouble.
Now: When Roethlisberger goes into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he'll have a tough call choosing between Arians and Haley as the man to induct him.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Rooney says owners support Goodell
- Game changers: Turnover leads to elusive TD for Steelers
- Offense awakens to lead Steelers past Panthers
- Value of nickel rising in NFL
- Steelers notebook: Panthers LB Kuechly making an impression
- Robinson: Study shows NFL troublemakers don’t get hurt in wallet
- Steelers’ Polamalu relying on smarts as physical skills decline
- Starkey: Can Steelers’ Mitchell find Carolina cure?
- Play to watch: Inside zone read slant/bubble
- Steelers’ Timmons looks to reverse defense’s struggles
- NFL notebook: Cardinals RB Dwyer arrested on assault charges