Let’s start things off with some Random Thoughts about the Steelers….
…The Pittsburgh Steelers 3-2 and heading to Cleveland where they’ll face the upstart 2-2 Cleveland Browns. The NFL odds makers are favoring the Browns, and within Steelers Nation there’s a palpable sensation that the “other foot is about to drop.” The only time yours truly can remember a similar sensation is in 1998, when the team started 2-0 but was a decidedly lackluster 2-0.
For a team that’s been shaky “Getting cute” can cost you – remember no further back than to that 1998 season. On Monday Night Football in early November, the Steelers led the Packers 27-3 early in the 4th quarter when Ray Sherman thought he’d get smart on the goal line. For the first time all season, in came Mike Tomczak under center, split wide went Kordell Stewart. Ball is snapped, fumbled, Green Bay recovers – and Bret Favre almost rallies for a victory.
- But that didn’t happen here.
Honestly, since it worked so what? With one caveat. Let’s hope that Mike Tomlin veto’s any other Ben Roethlisberger requests to keep records alive, because opposing coaches have duly noted this, and will scheme accordingly.
…Much has been made of the fact that Todd Haley called 6 passing plays in 6 Red Zone situations, despite having the services of Le’Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount at his disposal. Haley has taken a lot of heat, and justifiably so.
However, Aristotle observed that shifting from one form of government to another is as hard as breaking a habit. While traditional “Steelers football” would have the Steelers punch it in from short range, the fact is that since 2008 the Steelers haven’t had the offensive line to execute like that on the goal line.
- Now the Steelers might have the horses up front to do that.
But perhaps the Steelers coaching staff is in a place where they must unlearn the habits picked up and practice for so long.
…Jim Wexell suggests that what’s really keeping the Steelers from being a dynamic offense is the lack of a tall receiver. That creates a bit of a problem as Matavis Bryant has yet to dress, Derek Moye is on the practice squad and Markus Wheaton and Justin Brown’s growth spurts have ended.
- But the Steelers might have a solution in house.
They’ve got a guy who is 6’7” whose been on every opening day active roster. His name is Matt Spaeth. Yes, Matt Spaeth. Seriously. Spaeth hasn’t caught the ball much, but his touchdown-to-catch ratio (gotta love those cottage industry sabre metrics) is 18.5%, higher than Antonio Brown, Heath Miller, Hines Ward, Bennie Cunningham, John Stallworth or even Lynn Swann’s.
- Seriously, if Michael Palmer can be a legit Red Zone target, why not Spaeth? Why not split him wide and try to run a fade pattern?
If it’s true that Spaeth didn’t impress was a starter in 2010 when Miller was hurt, he actually did quite well catching the ball before that point in his career. It is worth a try.