Rest assured regular readers, the irony of the headline is fully intentional, all others please continue and you will quickly understand.
As noted late last week, the Post-Gazette and PG Plus ran any number of stories casting serious doubt on the Steelers ability to run the ball. We were told that:
- the Steelers had lost Willie Parker, and their failure to add anyone else with experience carried grave consequences
- Rookie Johnathan Dwyer was a disappointment
- Off the record, insiders were very concerned about the Steelers running game
This was quite a story, coming as it did more than a week before the first preseason game.
Week two of training camp brought a different tone. With dizzying rapidity we learned that:
- Isaac Redman has established himself the team’s short yardage back.
- Johnanthan Dwyer has “turned a corner” (from a source no less authoritative than Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson)
- Rashard Mendenhall has matured and is ready to lead
What a dramatic change in the fortunes of the Steelers running game — in less than a week!
Seriously. I try to maintain an objective and level tone with Watch Tower posts, but times like these make it tough. One week the sky is falling and hitting the Steelers running game on the head, and the next week everything is ‘A’ Okay.
Product of the Times?
Perhaps it is the nature of the 24/7 news cycle.
Today you’ve got fans Tweeting from the hillsides overlooking Chuck Noll Field. Pittsburgh has 3 or 4 Sports Talk stations broadcasting from St. Vincents. The Post-Gazette now has its reporters cutting daily videos to complement their stories and blog entries.
20 years ago only those in Greater Pittsburgh got any serious training camp news. The part of Steelers Nation outside of Western Pennsylvania either had the Steelers Digest (man, was that a Godsend in the pre-internet age), whatever snippets you could get from USA Today, ESPN Sports Center (and their was only one ESPN back then) or Sports Illustrated.
Maybe the ideal situation is somewhere in between. Hard as it may be to believe, there is a finite amount of “real” information out there to be had (something I discovered 11 summers ago with my first prolonged exposure to high speed internet) so sites have to creatively provide “content.”
Steelers PR Machine in Action?
Another explanation is that the Steelers PR team saw the team’s running game get negative press and went into action.
It is hard to exactly know how this process works, or how their relationship with the press works. But it is not too much of a stretch to figure that they could ensure that an Isaac Redman praising Mike Tomlin found his way in front of a group of beat writers. And they could certain do the same with Kirby Wilson and Rashard Mendenhall.
Regardless of the cause, the truth is that the Post-Gazette is a good paper that provides excellent Steelers coverage and it owes it to its readers to go beyond implying that the Steelers running game is on life support one week, and then turn tables and imply something approaching the opposite the next.
The silver lining to all of this is that preseason games start tomorrow, so they’ll be real news to write about.