This week, the Steelers once again showed glimpses of what they could be, but yet again allowed turnovers, poor tackling, and more special teams ineptitude to help guide them to a second consecutive loss.
Some think a bye week is what this team needs to overcome its foibles. But, I think that until the Steelers find a way to stop the short passing game, we'll be seeing more than a handful of losses this season. Not even a weak division may be able to save the Black and Gold this year.
If the Steelers looked even mildly competitive in these losses, I'd tip my hat to the victors and say, "We'll get them next time." But, at this rate "next time" might not be until next year as what was a golden season has began to quickly fade into oblivion.
A startling development has been the utter reluctance to run Jerome Bettis. I would like to think they're trying to keep him fresh for the later weeks, but he doesn't look happy on the sidelines for extended drives. He ran 10 times for 41 yards. That's 4.1 yards per carry for the roto geeks (I am one myself) and those deficient in math skills. Now, the last time I looked, a 4-yard average on the ground was pretty damn good. So why is he running only 10 times a game?
Another startling development is the utter reluctance of Plaxico Burress to fight his way out of double teams. Hey Plax, for the sake of all involved, you'll need to work a ton harder to get open since you've cracked the 1000-yard mark.
And another startling development is the acute case of fumblitis plaguing this team. Burress, Ward, Kordell, Bettis…were these guys watching the "Richard Huntley School of Rushing" video in the off-season?
And the final startling development is the inability of the defense to stop teams on third down and crucial situations. At one point the Raiders were 11 for 15 on third down. Terry Kirby's 24-yard scamper on 3rd and 15 from the 3 was a back-breaker. This team needs to find a way to get the defense off of the field.
They've got problems, and the bye week will give the team a chance to fix these deficiencies. But, will the Black and Gold mask the stench with cheap cologne or will they get a good scrub down?
The Week 1 Six-Pack Review
1. Philadelphia 37 Washington7: Well, I think the Redskins realized how far away from the top tier they are after the throttling they took on Monday. The Eagles need to find a way to get the ball in the hands of Brian Westbrook, their exciting rookie out of Villanova. He just makes plays when the ball's in his hands. McNabb looked everything like the MVP I think he will be.
2. New England 44 NY Jets 7: If anyone doesn't believe the Patriots are for real, they are smoking some seriously illegal stuff. This game had a pattern and rhythm that resembled last week's win over Pittsburgh. The Jets hung close until turnovers and the Patriots short passing game did them in. The Patriots are the clear class of the NFL at this moment and something tells me there aren't many teams that will be able to knock them off their porch.
3. Arizona 24 Seattle 14: The Cardinals, after looking horrid in the preseason, came out running. Seattle continues to be unable to stop the run. Mike Holmgren can't pin this loss on quarterback troubles because a healthy Trent Dilfer wouldn't have helped. I think I overrated Seattle based on the way they finished last year. If this continues for the rest of the season, Seattle might be lucky to win 4 games.
4. Miami 21 Indianapolis 13: Peyton Manning continues to post big numbers but the INT's are piling up. They have all the offensive talent in the world, but they might need work on protecting the ball and capitalizing on defense. But then again, they couldn't do that the past two years anyway so why would we think anything would change? And Tony Dungy's influence on the…wait…wasn't he supposed to fix something?
5. New Orleans 35 Green Bay 20: For the second straight week the Saints have looked very impressive. Their offense is clicking on all cylinders and the defense is getting great pressure from the front 7. Jim Haslett's main concern now should be keeping this team from peaking too early. What's going on with the Packers? The defense is pretty porous right now and Favre hasn't looked completely comfortable with his receivers.
6. New York Giants 26 St. Louis 21: The Shocker of the week. I never thought the Rams would look as bad as they did on turf this past Sunday. Kurt Warner right now reminds me of Superman in Superman 2. You know, the one where Superman gives up his powers for a short time so he can lead a normal life with Lois Lane. Remember that one? Then he travels to his Fortress of Solitude to regain his powers so he can save the world. Oh…and Kerry Collins looked pretty good this week. He didn't fumble in the red zone, a rarity for him.
The Power Core Rankings: Week 2
1 New England - The Patriots are the class of the NFL.
2 Miami - It's early but Fiedler may be destined for the Pro Bowl.
3 New Orleans - They just may be for real.
4 Oakland - The Old Folks Home still knows how to play.
5 Chicago - Survives against the Mighty Vick.
6 Denver - That defense might be something special.
7 Philadelphia - Didn't blow a big lead this week.
8 Buffalo - Might be a reach here. But held off Minnesota.
9 Tampa Bay - Looked much better but offense still isn't there.
10 San Francisco - The lack of offense is surprising.
11 San Diego - Beat up on two bad teams.
12 Atlanta - The best 0 -2 team I've seen in a while.
Missed Prime Opportunity (MPO) Score
Pittsburgh 7 Oakland 2
An MPO is when a team fails to score while in scoring range or doesn't take advantage of major swings in momentum (i.e. major penalties/turnovers/settling for field goals in successive series/inability to seal a game with first downs). These are killers because a team only gets so many opportunities. An MPO Score is like golf: It's best to score low. When a team score's low, it usually wins the game. It's remarkable how accurate it can be.
Pittsburgh's 2001 - 02 Regular Season MPO record: 0 - 2
Week 3 Preview:
By Week: No preview this week.
1. St. Louis at Tampa Bay: St. Louis has a great opportunity to start the season 0 - 3. Jon Gruden must be frothing at the mouth with St. Louis playing in such disarray.
2. New Orleans at Chicago: Both teams are 2 - 0 and both teams have defended very well in this early season. But, can Chicago keep up with one of the top offenses in the NFC?
3. Washington at San Francisco: San Francisco is having problems on offense and this preseason Spurrier ruffled a few feathers in the Bay Area. But, Frisco's got a great defense and have the ability to shut down the Fun n' Gun.
4. NY Jets at Miami: Miami gets their first chance to end the amazing losing streak to the Jets. With Ricky Williams they may just do it.
5. San Diego vs. Arizona: San Diego is 2-0 and Arizona seemed to find some identity Sunday. Both teams should be looking at this game as one they have to win if they are going to turn things around this season. Should be a fun one to watch, especially the way the games are going this season so far.
6. Cleveland at Tennessee: Who is the pretender among these two teams? Something tells me it might just be the Titans. Just a question, will Steve McNair finish the season in one piece?
Thoughts Assisted By Yuengling
Jerame Tuman is paid to do one thing and that is catch passes. There is no excuse for Jerame Tuman to be dropping 2-yard passes on 3rd down.
My early pick to be a contender next year are the Atlanta Falcons. Michael Vick is astounding; he just needs some more weapons.
For as great as San Diego has looked, remember whom they've played. They'll get a real test against Oakland and Denver.
The Baltimore Ravens may be worse than anyone thought they'd ever be this season. Regardless, Ray Lewis will continue to play at an amazing level.
So Quincy Carter had a career day last week. If you remember, I made the comment that he had "no business running an offense." Okay I was wrong. I admit it. I can admit when I'm wrong…but I meant for a full season.
I have a message for the nameless bartender at Fleming's Bar in Astoria. When I ask you to turn one of the 3 televisions tuned to Miami-Indianapolis onto the Atlanta-Chicago matchup because it's late in the 4th quarter and it's one point game AND Michael Vick is playing, you better do it because I'm a paying customer. The Bartender looked at me like I was crazy when I said, "Hey man, could we get the Bears-Falcons game on one of these televisions?" I was very irritated.