It’s not over, but isn’t it?
Didn’t the season effectively come to an end on the turf of MetLife Stadium against the New York Jets?
Yes, those Jets.
Didn’t it end about six minutes into the game when you realized that stubbornness in coaching more often leads to disaster then it does success?
How does Devlin Hodges start that game yesterday? How?
For all the good Mike Tomlin did for the injury-riddled, outmanned 2019 Steelers – getting the defense sorted out and coaching a pretty bad team to a pretty good record (and still alive for a playoff spot) – his stubbornness got in the way of the Steelers’ controlling their own destiny.
It started on Tuesday when Tomlin boldly announced that Hodges was the unquestioned starter, and that he was sure the Duck would bounce back from his awful performance against Buffalo.
That’s just stubborn.
Hodges has earned nothing as an NFL quarterback. Not that Rudolph has, but the Steelers have far more invested in Rudolph than Hodges. Rudolph should have started against the Jets.
But that ship sailed last Tuesday, and so did the Steelers’ realistic playoff chances, so did all that, “Mike Tomlin is the NFL coach of the year,” talk.
Bill Belichick, an actual great coach (spare me the cheating talk – every team cheats – he just gets caught), proved that he will never try to outthink himself against any opponent when the Patriots ran the ball 35 times against the Bills in a division-clinching win.
The Steelers threw the ball 38 times against those same Bills a week earlier in a loss that torpedoed the Steelers’ playoff hopes as badly as the Jets loss this week.
Belichick has Tom Brady at quarterback, by the way, but Brady threw less than New England ran the football.
The Steelers ran the ball 15 times against Buffalo.
Coaches of the year know better. They make better decisions than that. They make sure their coordinators on both sides of the ball have better game plans that the game plans the Steelers went with against Buffalo and New York.
Mike Tomlin is a damn good football coach, and his players’ failures outweigh his this season, but Tomlin did no favors for his team the past two week, and that is a shame considering the Steelers only gave up 33 points in those two games.
- A healthy James Conner is two things: a very good NFL running back, and a rarity. Conner’s health issues and injury history relegates him to a backup role and gives the Steelers one more major hole on offense. An aging O-line, no number-one receiver, no real threat at tight end (Vance McDonald has the same issue as Conner), and no feature back on the current roster means this offseason, draft and free agency, will determine the fate of the 2020 Steelers.
- One Mike, Tomlin, may have derailed his coach of the year chances, but the other Mike in Pittsburgh, Sullivan, still has a chance. Sully has handed over the number one goaltending position to Tristan Jarry (I really enjoyed Matt Murray giving up 4 goals on 14 shots in Vancouver), has pushed the right buttons with new players in the lineup for seemingly everyone important, and has the Penguins playing well despite playing the majority of the season without the Player of the Decade – Sidney Crosby.
- Early signing day resulted in the 43rd best class in the country for Pitt. Eighth in the ACC. But they’ll win an ACC championship within the next three years. Been two weeks since Pat Narduzzi said it, and I laugh harder every day thinking about it.
- Might sound like I’m a hater, a cynic and a complainer, but that is just the nature of sports writing. I recently lost my mother to a prolonged illness. She loved the Penguins more than she loved almost anything, so I hope against hope that they can win the Cup this year, but even when they don’t, I will never not love that team the same way I love the Pirates through the losing and mismanagement (like the career .211 hitter they recently signed to take over their catching duties) because of my dad. Merry Christmas – hold those you love the most closest – and remember, all these Musings are just about games.