Just My Opinion ...

Jim Wexell with his post-Super Bowl take and how it relates to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

From the notebook of a sportswriter who'll always like the game more than the commercials, no matter how bad the game:

* And this one was a good one.

* Except for the ending, of course.

* At the party I attended, four men consistently cheered for the Seahawks, until shushed by eight women during commercials.

* The other four men just kept looking at their watches.

* There was one lone woman clapping at the end. She's the one who thinks Tom Brady's cute.

* So, it was like most Super Bowl parties.

* Early in the fourth quarter, with the Seahawks running the ball and the clock at the same time, one of the men shouted, "Don't be like the Steelers here," after Marshawn Lynch was stopped for gains of two and one on two plays. Russell Wilson was sacked on third-and-long and with 12:22 left the comeback was on.

* I wanted to tell that man the Steelers don't really attempt to sit on fourth-quarter leads anymore. But I didn't.

* The Steelers do use shotgun at the goal line, so the man's plea to be un-Steelers-like eventually had merit.

* Making the rounds are all kinds of negative stats about Lynch at the goal line this season (and postseason), but no one can answer how often the Seahawks were stuffed while running at the one after lining up in the shotgun.

* That's a big difference: Is the coach or the back responsible for the lousy stats?

* I think my untrained eye can speak up and say it's not the back.

* SCI.net's Matt Steel said he felt like a one-trick pony with his writing this season. He repeatedly hammered home the Steelers' problem in the red zone. Said he couldn't help himself, that it was too obvious. Well, that one trick is looking Pete Carroll right in the eye this morning.

* Steel railed all season about the Steelers' overreliance on the shotgun, particularly in the red zone. If it makes Matt feel any better, Steelers analytics are telling them as much.

* And, of course, they're talking to Carroll, too.

* Hopefully the Steelers will take this information and use it with a QB who's been so successful with play-action.

* Or, as Steel has written just about every week, the threat of play-action merely by taking the snap from under center.

* It's taken me several years to get past ripping the offensive coordinator every time he calls a pass on early downs inside the five. That had to do with covering Jerome Bettis for 10 seasons.

* It was a point that I wanted to put in my column the other day about life with Bettis, about how angry I used to get about passing with him back there.

* A most vitriolic criticism was spewed after the Jacksonville game in 2005, when the Steelers late in regulation ran Willie Parker instead of Bettis from the Jacksonville 25 and were then sacked on third down before missing a 46-yard field goal. And then in overtime at the J26, instead of pounding Bettis for the chip shot, they ran Parker twice before Tommy Maddox fumbled.

* The Steelers lost that game and Bill Cowher had to deal with questions for a week. Could you imagine Cowher's legacy had he lost a Super Bowl by throwing a pick instead of giving Bettis the ball on second down at the 1?

* Oh, you would bring up Bettis' fumble on first-and-goal at the 2 in Indianapolis.

* The point I'm laboring to make is that Lynch is the modern-day Bettis and that coaches think too much and that the Steelers feel they've identified their primary red-zone problem.

* And Matt Steel, keep up the good work.

* Late in the season I was told the Steelers were using their new analytics man for some dazzling stats on Bettis for the selection committee.

* The most interesting stat from Ed Bouchette's story on Bettis late in the selection week was that Bettis has a better non-fumbling percentage than all but two of the backs in the Hall of Fame.

* I did like this quote from Cowher in the story: "My record with an 11-point lead or more was 108-1-1. Thank you, Jerome."

* Le'Veon Bell is a great back. I can say that now without hesitation. But I don't think he's in the company of Lynch or Bettis when it comes to short-yardage. That's why I would have no problem if the Steelers drafted a move-em-out offensive lineman in the first round if they can't find value in the defensive rush-and-cover realm.

* I think the Steelers' offensive line is smart and mobile but I wish it were stronger.

* Get stronger today.

* And I'm talking to you, too, Jarvis Jones. Your offseason work ethic might be the most important Steelers story of the next couple of months.

* Even I was motivated to get into the weight room this morning, and I'm not trying to beat the Patriots. I just wanted to get their smugness out of my brain, prove to myself that I'm moving on.

* We all know that championships are won when nobody's watching.

* Nobody's watching the day after the Super Bowl.

* Even after winning Super Bowls, James Harrison got right back in the room.

* OK, well, two days later.

* But the Patriots are celebrating. The time to gain on them is now.


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