Overreactions from Steelers Nation: Are you not entertained?
Welcome to my weekly edition of “Overreactions from Steelers Nation”. This week, I’m trying to figure out if Steelers fans even watch the games!
I hurt my eyes earlier this week. It was an innocent accident, scrolling through Facebook and Twitter, rolling my eyes too far into the back of my skull as I read several of the worst takes from a group of fans that I could possibly read.
Worse, the beat writers are in on the gag too.
Yeah, the Steelers won’t win any games if they keep playing the way they did against the Seahawks… insert eyeroll again, as the Steelers had, in fact, won that game.
Another, while the game was still in progress, proclaimed that the Steelers huge hype song, Styx’ Renegade, was no longer effective. The magic has worn off, and truly Pittsburgh was doomed now that the song brought the defense back onto the field for an overtime period.
Ah, how that tweet aged so well…
Honestly, I can’t figure out what it might take to make fans happy.
Beating a Buffalo Bills team the Steelers were proclaimed to not be able to compete with in Week 1? Complaints.
Injuries mounting into losses against the Raiders and Bengals? Insurmountable. Stick a fork in them. Tank for (insert college quarterback’s name) next season.
Gee, you think Minkah Fitzpatrick‘s field goal block returned for a touchdown in Green Bay, yet another botched referee call, could’ve made the difference against the Packers? Forget about it.
3-1 Denver Broncos? No chance.
Yet, the Steelers sit at 3-3 before entering a bye week, in which they’ll come out of against the Cleveland Browns team that’s missing… checks notes… half of their team. (No seriously, their team is ravaged by injuries and at the worst time possible, entering a Thursday Night game against those now 3-3 Broncos.)
I had flirted the possibility of the Steelers being 3-3 on the Steel City Underground Podcast: once back this Summer going through the schedule and again two weeks ago. The Broncos had only beaten the Giant, Jets, and Jaguars: a trifecta of the league’s weakest teams. The Seahawks were a beatable target too, even with Russell Wilson healthy, as their defense ranked at the bottom of almost every statistical category.
Oh wait, I’m hearing that again.
Najee Harris didn’t get 100 yards rushing. Now he’s a wasted first round pick again.
Ben Roethlisberger fumbled… almost threw an interception too. (Good thing almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.)
But there’s another trend out there that I can quite grasp: everyone on defense is now a bust.
T.J Watt wasn’t worth a landmark, franchise contract negotiation breaking deal before the season. He hasn’t lived up to it.
I know, I shouldn’t let this stuff get to me, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg for a player who has 7 sacks in only 5 games this season. (Among strip sacks, pass deflections, tackles for loss, and QB hits too.)
Minkah Fitzpatrick? Not worth the collateral given up to acquire him two seasons ago.
Devin Bush? Ditto. Reach. Bust.
Joe Schoebert? Why did they trade for that bum?
Joe Haden? Old man. Sucks.
Terrell Edmunds? Meh, we know he was a reach, right? Bust.
The only player no one is ragging on these days is Cameron Heyward, and I surmise that’s because even the most ignorant fan recognizes his greatness. Or perhaps, they really are that ignorant and don’t pay attention to what goes on in the trenches. (Or maybe, maybe, they read the Pro Football Focus rankings, which has Heyward ahead of even Aaron Donald early in this 2021 season!)
The Steelers defense has gone through some ebbs and flows through six games this season. Bush has been banged up, as was Cameron Sutton, and the aforementioned T.J. Watt. Even Alex Highsmith joined the groin club, contributing to the Steelers NFL record streak of games with at least one sack ending when they couldn’t sniff Joe Burrow a few weeks ago, and wound up with a goose egg on the afternoon.
I know every team has to deal with injuries, but the defense is the bread and butter of the Black and Gold. Being without Tyson Alualu and Stephon Tuitt has hurt the front, noticeably attacked as the Seahawks ran Alex Collins off the right guard and right tackle (i.e. away from Heyward) during an opening half scoring possession where Geno Smith attempted a single pass.
Yes, that was ugly, but I also doubt it defines the entirety of the Steelers 2021 season, with 11 more games to go.
Obviously, Watt isn’t a bust.
Edmunds gets ragged on while many don’t have a feel for his role: which is to open up freelancing for Fitzpatrick. And no, Tre Norwood isn’t Edmunds replacement – can we get through 2021 first before making such bold, ridiculous claims about a seventh round rookie who played all of 15 snaps Sunday?
Devin Bush is still getting back into the swing of things following last year’s knee injury and rehab, plus he’s been dealing with a groin injury all his own. But just look at when he’s not out there and tell me he’s not a difference maker. (Rhetorical question: he his.)
As for Alualu, he may not be able to return this season. In his stead, Chris Wormley had done outstanding. But Wormley was meant to be a rotational piece to help give Heyward, Alualu, and Tuitt a breather. Down two of those players, the Steelers have relied on Henry Mondeaux and Isaiah Buggs: not exactly the same caliber of players as the others.
If Tuitt can return healthy and mentally focused to play, the face of the defense will change instantly.
The overreactions as to how the team has played to this point will be an afterthought, Geno Smith or not. So take a deep breath during the bye week folks. Maybe go back to speculating on those college quarterbacks instead, as your viewpoints on the Steelers defense are way off of the mark.