Re-evaluating Goals in Short Term

A hungry Jonathan Dwyer can't be part of anyone's solution, writes Mike Prisuta, who's merely looking for improvement from the Steelers in Cincinnati.

It's apparently gone from bad to worse on the North Shore, where the Steelers' response to their alarmingly inept performance in the regular-season opener against Tennessee was, among other things, to bring back Jonathan Dwyer.

Wasn't he part of the problem previously?

Worse yet, upon returning Dwyer insisted that he's "grown," and that he's "even hungrier than I was."

Wasn't that part of the problem previously?

Still, it could be worse.

The Steelers may have lost their center, one of their inside linebackers, one of their reserve running backs and their opener, all in either embarrassing or season-ending fashion, but their reputation remains intact.

And even if that goes to hell in a hand basket in Cincinnati, the hardware will still speak volumes.

New center Fernando Velasco was clearly impressed upon arriving at the reeling Steelers' South Side practice facility, despite recent events.

"Any time you see the Black & Yellow you already know that they're going to be a hard, tough-nosed football team," Velasco insisted. "They won six Super Bowls, that's all I need to know."

It's tough not to appreciate that type of sentiment coming from someone who wasn't a part of the team as recently as last week.

It will be better, still, when Velasco begins referring to the "Black & Gold," and when he starts characterizing the Steelers as a "tough, hard-nosed football team," but first things first.

There's a game to play on Monday night in Cincinnati.

And while winning it would go a long way toward reassuring Steeler Nation and perhaps even the Steelers themselves that things have not spun horribly out of control after all, that might be a bit too much to ask right about now.

Former Steelers running back Merril Hoge said this week he couldn't recall a time when the Steelers were "this poor in so many areas."

Hoge may have been concussed a time or two – the 6-10 debacle in 2003 hasn't been forgotten by many and likely won't be – but he still had a point.

It's gotten bad enough quickly enough that something less than a victory against the Bengals can, would and should be perceived as progress.

In this particular instance, winning isn't the only thing.

It'll be acceptable as well as encouraging if the Steelers, no matter the eventual final score at Paul Brown Stadium, can emerge not having to deal with:

* Trying to determine if a fumble into the end zone was the fault of Ben Roethlisberger or Isaac Redman.

* Trying to figure out how to generate offense when you can't run and when there's no time to throw.

* Trying to understand how a defense that holds itself accountable to playing at a championship level could succumb to a 12-play touchdown drive that included 11 rushing attempts.

* Trying to get a handle on why punt and kickoff return yards are apparently beyond their grasp.

When they get all of that stuff corrected they'll have a chance to win a lot of games eventually. But even all of that might not be enough against the Bengals.

In the event it's not, look for perceived improvement where you can find it.

It should be easy enough to spot, no matter the level of hell James Harrison decides to unleash upon his former team.

There is, after all, nowhere to go but up for the Black & Yellow.

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