Rays of Hope
As hard as some of that game was to watch, I saw quite a few positives last night.
1. As long as Jonathan Dwyer is healthy, he's our starting RB for the foreseeable future. Tomlin's mind games have work on the young man. He's in shape, he's working hard, and he ran pretty well given how bad the OLine played last night. Sure he fumbled - it happens. And he was indecisive on some of his runs - who wouldn't be behind that line. But how many breathers did he need? This is a brand new Jonathan Dwyer and it's the story of the offseason that everyone's been missing so far. Between Dwyer, Howling, and Redman, I think we're in really good shape at RB.
2. Shark, JJ, and Wheaton need to get playing time asap. These 3 stand out every practice. And you can't help but notice their impact in the games. These are 3 special players. Shark is everywhere. I like how JJ is always trying to take the ball away. And Wheaton's got fantastic hands, precise routes, and speed.
3. Manny Sanders - I've been seeing flashed of greatness in this kid since he first came to Pittsburgh. Finally he's gonna break out. He's had a rough go of it his first couple years with the injury and lockout and not getting a complete offseason of work. The thing that I think makes him different than the rest of the WRs is his competitiveness. He continues to do a lot of little things that go unnoticed. Surprised no one still talks about his blocking. He may be small, but he's relentless.
4. Our secondary looks like the best unit on the field. And we still don't have our best CB in the mix. Man is it nice to have Troy healthy. Lets keep it that way. Guy's still got the magic burst. Shark seems to have that burst and athleticism as well. When Tez is back, he and Ike are gonna put this league on lock down. Tez and Thomas might just have the biggest upsides of any Steeler at any position.
5. Ben still looks mobile in the pocket for an old guy with a bum knee. This is good. May the football gods keep him healthy for the SuperBowl run. He's still the most exiting QB in the league to watch. Not sure we're ever gonna see another one like him and he's still the main reason I think we can string together a few more SuperBowls.
6. Both lines are still a work in progress. The OLine looks a mess, but it's a new system with new players and moving tackles. I think we may just have to give them a little time. And Beachum needs to get some serious consideration to start at RT. I think he even looked better at RT than Adams did when he got the chance last year. So he's definitely better than Gilby. On the D side, we still can't seem to get a push or any kind of pressure up front. For a team that's used some high draft picks on the DLine, we should be much better. Unfortunately Casey Hamptons and Aaron Smiths dont grow on trees. And until we can get that kind of play, this line may make it tough for the Steelers to get any consistent pressure.
7. I've been harsh on Jonesto date, but he has looked better in practice at the end of last week and during this game. I'm starting to see some potential in Landry. Once he figures out the mental part of the game, I think he's gonna be fine. Still making lots of mistakes, but he's starting to show he can throw.
8. The offense still doesn't look as bad as it did during the preseason before we won SuperBowl XL. Ben's not really a preseason QB. And he usually needs the full 60 minutes to win most games. So I'm gonna be patient with this offense in progress. And with Bell in the game and the OLine scheme, everyone knew we wanted to work on the running game. So I won't read too much into the O performance yet.
9. The key to our SuperBowls have been our 3 stars in Ben, Troy, and James. James is gone now, but I'm not too concerned because I'm starting to believe in the not too distant future, we've got a couple of superstars in JJ and Thomas. If those guys do what I think they can, the formula for more SuperBowls is in tact.