The black hole is not in Oakland – it’s in The Steelers’ Way

AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron

“Is this going to be one of those mad articles?”

“Oh, no, babe, I am really happy about the outcome of the Steelers game.”

She won’t be awake to hear me read this column aloud to edit the text (you’re welcome for the best writing improvement tip you’ll ever hear), but were she, she’d understand that the anger is well placed.

The Steelers and Mike Tomlin deserve every bit of criticism fans can heap.

First, the players, because regardless how poorly prepared the Steelers always seem to be when they play bad teams, the players are ultimately responsible for outcomes.

That said, Oakland scored the game-winning touchdown on a play when two of their offensive linemen could barely walk, yet, no pressure on Derek Carr.

Also, besides a decent play by Morgan Burnett  in the end zone on Oakland’s final drive, not a single player made a play of any significance on that drive. Far too easy for Carr to make throws and far too easy for receivers to find open space and make catches.

The special teams continue to be, well, special. Chris Boswell has suddenly turned into Ray Finkle and serves as a prime example of why you never, ever, ever, ever pay a kicker.

The Steelers have six picks.


The secondary is bad. Joe Haden is ordinary, Coty Sensabaugh, pause for laughter, is useless, and the safeties just aren’t very good. Terrell Edmunds gets a small pass because he is learning on the job and Sean Davis never makes a play. Morgan Burnett is just okay, but he never really makes a play, either. Mike Hilton is the closest thing the Steelers have to a playmaker, and he rarely makes plays in pass coverage.

As my good buddy James told me last night, “How can you win with Coty Sensabaugh?”

You can’t, James. You can’t.

Then there’s this:

”(Roethlisberger) probably could’ve come in a series or so sooner, but we were in a rhythm and flow of the game.”

Uhm, what?

Seriously – what in the blue Hell does that mean?

Mike Tomlin wants us to believe that he left Josh Dobbs, pause for more laughter, in the game because of the rhythm and flow of the game?

Is Terrence Howard coaching the Steelers, now?

That’s Tomlin’s excuse for keeping Dobbs in the game?

Calls into question whose call it was – Tomlin’s or Ben’s? Calls into question the Steelers’ habit of overlooking bad teams – thinking Josh Freaking Dobbs could handle the Raiders – and looking ahead to better teams.

Calls into question how much control Mike Tomlin has over the things he can control. Like the players the Steelers draft on defense (shared with Kevin Colbert,) like the coaches he hires or keeps around (Joey Porter, Keith Butler, Tom Bradley, Jerry Olsavsky, Danny Smith), like when to or when not to use time outs, coach’s challenges or, ultimately, who is or is not on the field. All things Tomlin has failed at miserably – some this year, some since he took the job.

And I still don’t forgive Tomlin for mishandling the Anthem fiasco, mishandling the way his team mouthed off about Le’Veon Bell, the way he excused Bell’s absence from a walk-through before a playoff game, his, “these men are professionals and know how to handle themselves,” (really, Mike?) crap.

Seems like an out-of-control sports car careening off of the Boulevard of the Allies.

Solution? Fire Tomlin? Fire all of the defensive coaches and the special teams coach? Fire Kevin Colbert and replace all with a GM, head coach and defensive coaching staff that changes the culture of the Steelers’ defense? A front office that doesn’t just talk about Super Bowls and this ridiculous notion of “The Steelers’ Way,” but actually signs and develops players who make plays on defense?

Seems like an overreaction – after all, it’s only three losses.

Other MoioMusings:

  • The decision to keep Josh Dobbs in a real NFL game for more than one play falls on somebody. Tomlin intimated that he had a hand in the decision with his odd, “rhythm and flow,” comment, and it is not out of bounds to think that Ben could have insisted that he go back in – in fact – how about Ben just walks onto the field, taps Dobbs on the helmet and tells him he’s got if from here? Regardless, somebody should have to pay for that decision. Nobody will, though, that’s not, “The Steelers’ Way.” 
  • I would whine about the non ejection last Saturday night after Sidney Crosby was elbowed in his head by the Ottawa Senators’ Zac Smith, a two-minute minor penalty in the eyes of the NHL, but the rockheads who run that league couldn’t care less what anybody thinks. Two minutes for an elbow to the head? The NHL Way is almost as dysfunctional as The Steelers’ Way. 
  • Exactly what has Mike Tomlin done to coach without any fear of repercussion? “Tomlin ain’t never had no losing season,” one might argue. So? “Tomlin always finds a way to keep them competitive,” others might suggest. Okay, but is that the goal in Pittsburgh? To be competitive? “He’s got a ring and would have two if that jerk Mendenhall don’t fumble against the Packers,” is not a bad argument, but that was a long time ago. In the time since, the Steelers have not made the significant moves teams who are close to the top make to get there. Tomlin continues to make strange in-game decisions, mismanage the clock and mishandle halftime adjustments. But nobody in the Steelers’ front office whispers anything about Tomlin’s performance. I guess the Steelers Way is to look like a Super Bowl contender, and talk like a Super Bowl contender, and to count the dollars that stream in from a loyal fan base that loves its team.


What a gig.

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