TIOPS DAILY FIVE
*Rumblings, Musings, Opinions*
1. The Steelers going no-huddle so prominently vs the Detroit Lions was a big, big development. A lot of pundits and I’m sure fans have wondered what took so long and it doesn’t take much investigating work to figure out why the coaching staff finally decided to put the game in Ben’s hands. Strong indications are Mike Tomlin has become much more involved in the direction of the offense over the last two weeks and is no longer letting Todd Haley dictate the direction of the offense. The Steelers put the ball in Ben’s hands vs the Lions and expect that trend to continue. “He called most of the game for us,” tight end Heath Miller said Sunday of Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger’s performance vs the Lions was truly one of the few times this season that Roethlisberger performed like a true franchise quarterback. Whoever gets hot from here on out is taking the final wildcard spot in the AFC. Of all the teams in the mix for the final wildcard spot, the Steelers have the best QB, though, that doesn’t mean much based on the QB’s the Steelers have lost to this season.
2. Ben Roethlisberger’s comments today on his weekly radio show on 937 The Fan really tell the story of how Mike Tomlin truly stepped up in a big way vs the Lions. Roethlisberger explained on the Vinnie and Cook show how Tomlin made the message clear that the Steelers weren’t going to sit back. “Mike T came right up to me on the sideline, took his headset off and said, ‘Ben, we get this ball back, I’m not sitting on this. We’re stayin in the no-huddle. We’re not playing not to lose. We’re staying in this mode. He grabbed Coach Haley and said the same thing right in front of me. He was adamant. He said, ‘I’m not playing not to lose the game.’ I give coach a lot of credit for that situation,” Roethlisberger said Quotes via Joe Starkey.
3. Heath Miller racked up 8 catches for 67 yards vs the Lions but it’s fair to wonder if we’ve seen the best of him. His blocking has suffered dramatically since returning from his knee injury and he no longer has much of a burst. Miller is a smart enough player where he’s going to remain a productive player the next couple years but his days could be over as one of the best tight ends in football.
4. The Steelers proved on Sunday, like a lot of the NFL does is you don’t need a running game to put up big points if you can exploit the opposition with short passing plays that have some YAC. The Steelers rushed for 40 yards on 27 carries vs the Lions, and Ben Roethlisberger had 12 of those rushing yards. Le’Veon Bell remains very ordinary and as I wrote last week, Rashard Mendenhall pre-knee injury was on a different level than Bell. Where Bell has added something to this team is catching the ball out of the back field. Jonathan Dwyer just one carry vs the Lions, deserves more touches.
5. In the AFC it’s the Denver Broncos and everyone else. In the NFC, the Carolina Panthers should be right up there in the discussion as a top Super Bowl contender with the Saints and Seahawks. The Panthers winners of six straight games, are a very good football team and maybe the most complete team in the NFC with a young star QB. The Panthers remind me of the Steelers during Ben’s first couple seasons. Very good defense, strong rushing attack and a quarterback who makes big plays.