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Thoughts headed into the final week

I find it incredible how irresponsible the Steelers coaching staff has continually handled Big Ben. I know he’s a “warrior”, he’s “tough” and may even be a “drama queen” (visibly playing up injuries to the viewer on TV in some people’s eyes). But he’s also arguably the best player on the team and to just let him time and again expose himself to injury AND then let him play (like in the Browns game and arguably even in the 49ers game) is, again, simply irresponsible. How much money have the Steelers invested into Ben? A lot. Not a very smart way to handle your most valuable asset.

I know fans will counter with “well, that’s how he plays and I wouldn’t want him to play any differently, etc.” I understand that and agree with it (for the most part), but to not have him curb some of the dangers that he puts himself through is simply a lack of coaching on the Steelers part. I refuse to believe that there is nothing the coaching staff can do to cut down on some of Ben’s haphazard play. Ben isn’t the smartest guy, I get it, but using that as an exuse is just a way to ultimately absolve anyone of blame in this situation. To me, it’s the coaching staff basically saying “we really don’t know what else to do and really don’t have much confidence in our coaching abilities, so therefore Ben can do whatever he wants”. It’s horseshit and will probably result in Ben ending his career at the age of 31 or 32. You can mark that down.

In other news, it’s great that Rashard Mendenhall had a 100 yard game against the worst run defense in the NFL last week. But he still has one of the worst yards per carry of any starting RB in the NFL this year (only Cedric Benson and Michael Bush have worse yards per carries among starters) and unless he gets 110 yards next week, he will not even have 1000 yards this season. Think about that, this is a RB that gets the majority of the carries and has played in every game this year and there’s a good chance he doesn’t even get 1000 yards. The Steelers will be making a HUGE mistake if they re-sign Mendenhall in the offseason. He doesn’t excel at anything and the Steelers don’t even use him correctly considering his skill set. And this is coming from someone that was very impressed with his first year as a starter. It’s been all downhill since then.

In positive news, I have generally been really pleased with how the secondary has played this year for the most part. While it’s true that they haven’t been tested a lot in recent weeks, it seems they are playing much sounder football than last year. I think new DB coach Carnell Lake has made a positive impact. Great hire (and great former player!).

I can’t say enough good things about Antonio Brown. The kid is going to be a great one. I have to pat myself on the back with a comment I made in the preseason this year commenting that Brown might already be the best WR on the team. He is.

Looking ahead to this weekend – The Bengals have a good shot at beating the Ravens, but I think some fans are overlooking one crucial thing – The Ravens have arguably just as much to play for as the Bengals. Think about this – The Ravens know what is at stake (a bye week) and know the Steelers play the lowly Browns. You just know that Harbaugh is telling his team that they HAVE to win this game to get the much coveted bye.

I have said for a while that the Ravens are overrated and they are. And I thought the Bengals were ripped off in their first game against the Ravens this year. Even considering those things, I’m not sure the Bengals win this weekend. Like I said, I think they have a good shot at winning but this a huge game and we all know how the Bengals have historically played in big games – not very well. I’m crossing my fingers.

Another thing I think a lot fans are disregarding is the Steelers own game against those lowly Browns. Don’t forget that the Steelers were barely beating the Browns earlier this year, 7-3, late in the game AT Heinz Field. And that was with Ben playing. Who knows if he’ll go this Sunday or not. The game is not a gimme at all, especially with the way the Steelers routinely play down to opponents. Browns would LOVE to beat the Steelers.

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