Tuesday Buzz Column
“We play to win.”
That was Mike Tomlin’s answer to a question about the thinking behind having Ben Roethlisberger throw a 26-yard pass into the end zone on fourth and one in the first quarter Monday Night against the Redskins.
Antonio Brown, of course, made the catch and the Steelers had a 7-6 lead on the Redskins.
They completed a pass for a first down on fourth down prior to their second touchdown.
Meanwhile, the Redskins’ coach, Jay Gruden was punting from the Steelers’ 41 and kicking field goals.
That’s called playing not to lose.
Mike Tomlin may not be the best game manager among NFL coaches but you have to give him credit for being aggressive.
Nobody goes for two points as often as he does and he has the sideline demeanor of a guy who looks like he wants to be the one who will be dictating the action.
This Steelers offense, even without Le’ Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant and Heath Miller looks good enough to go for it every time on fourth and short no matter where it is on the field.
Think it might be time to give Todd Haley some credit for that?
You remember Todd – the guy who just about every Steelers fan wanted to run out of town two years ago.
I admit I made fun of his dink and dunk offense, but it’s hard to argue with what the Steelers put out there every week.
One legitimate criticism has been the lack of touchdowns and that was a big difference Monday night. They scored five of them with only one field goal.
The Steelers offensive players – especially Ben Roethlisberger – haven’t been shy about setting at least 30 points a game as their goal and after Monday’s 38 there’s no reason to believe they can’t do it.
The defense looked much better than expected but some of that credit has to go to the Redskins’ quarterback, Kirk Cousins.
He was terrible and didn’t do himself any favors as a franchise player looking to score the multi-year mega contract.
He did the Steelers defense plenty of favors by making lots of bad throws and choosing not to run into open field against the zone defense.
And he’s making $20 million this season.
If Kirk Cousins is a $20 million quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger should get $200 million.
Roethlisberger has never looked more confident and he has no reason not to be. He has Antonio Brown, who showed again Monday night that he’s not just the best wide receiver in the NFL, but the best player.
Both of Roethlisberger’s touchdown passes to him were excellent throws, but Brown was well covered and he made two tough catches look ridiculously easy.
-Has Kevin Colbert ever signed a better free agent than DeAngelo Williams? His 143 yards rushing were the most in the NFL in Week 1. He also caught six passes.
And he’s a backup.
I thought the Steelers were going to lose Monday night because I wasn’t sold on their defense. I’m still not sold on it because Cousins was so bad, but I made the mistake of thinking that missing three major components of their offense would hold them back.
They got the 30 they needed and they’re going to be tough to beat when they get Bell back.
-The Steelers did everybody a favor by coinciding the start of their season with the Pirates’ collapse.
For a while there the collapse was usually completed by Memorial Day but there were big expectations for this team.
I expected 83 wins.
There’s a good chance they won’t get 81 to finish .500.
The difference between a 98-win team and an 85 win season is about two wins a month. [hide]
Do you think if Andrew McCutchen had hit .340 the last two months instead of .250, the Pirates would still be in contention for the Wild Card?
How about Gerrit Cole? He’s 7-10.
If he were 12-7, which is what he should be, and McCutchen were hitting .335-.345, which is what he did last June, July and August, would the Pirates still be pushing for the second wild card?
Remember, the difference between winning 98 games and winning 85 games is about two wins per month.
Blame the manager. Blame the Nuttings. Blame anybody you want but when your ace and your superstar stink, losing two more games per month is easy. It’s just about inevitable.
Hope you enjoyed the bridge year.[/hide]