Steelers Stock Report: Whose stock is trending up after the Steelers win over the Rams
Who knew? It turns out that the Steelers well-documented West Coast curse was no match for Mike Tomlin’s post bye week streak of success. Tomlin’s Steelers have now won 7 straight contests immediately following their bye. I honestly had no idea what to expect. My pregame prediction of a Steelers victory came straight from my black and gold heart, not my head.
The Steelers defeated the Rams 24-17 in yet another home away from home game on the road. The Steelers are now 4-2 on the young season, and 2-0 in the division. Incredibly, they are 11-4 over their last 15. That’s not too shabby for a franchise with more roster turnover than any team in their division over the past couple years.
I know many will read the aforementioned record and circumstances and focus on the positives. I dare say many will feel encouraged by where the Steelers sit in the standings, regardless of how they got there.
I simply cannot. I hate to admit this more than words can say. I am the eternal optimist, or at least I always have been. But the Steelers of recent memory have changed me some how, and definitely not for the better.
The Steelers are absolutely no fun to watch. I recently noticed three words that keep popping up every time I write or discuss the Steelers: sad, boring, and frustrating.
I already know what some will say, “Who cares what you think?” The answer is nobody. Ownership doesn’t seem to care they are putting an oftentimes unwatchable product on the field. Mike Tomlin is knee deep in teachable moments, but his pupils don’t seem to be listening or learning.
The Steelers have been gifted 3 of their 4 victories thus far this season. The offense varies between being totally inept or one dimension, and it has been that way during Matt Canada’s entire tenure. The names and faces change, but the subpar product on the field remains the same. Isn’t that interesting? Change nothing, and nothing changes.
Bottom line: I couldn’t careless who the offensive coordinator is, or who the starting QB happens to be, etc. I just want to watch the only franchise I have ever loved produce an NFL caliber performance on the field, on both sides of the ball. A professional performance from a roster that we can all be proud to root for.
In the end, isn’t this supposed to be entertainment? A multi billion dollar industry, but entertainment nonetheless. I don’t know about you, but I am still waiting to be entertained.
Steelers Stock Trending Up: Chris Boswell
When you watch the Rams kicker gift the Steelers the victory in a game where he missed 2 field goals and an extra point, and the margin of victory was 7 points, you suddenly start to appreciate Boswell even more. Boswell has been perfect on the season, under the extreme pressure of knowing his perfection has been desperately needed. Hopefully I haven’t jinxed the man, but I thought his immense efforts needed to be acknowledged.
Steelers Stock Trending Up: Kenny Pickett
Pickett may be the most uniquely unusual QB in the NFL. He is a slow starter, but a great finisher. Most fringe level guys who are trying to reach franchise level consideration are the opposite. They can often light up the stat sheet throughout the game, but usually come up short in the biggest moments. Think Kirk Cousins, Dak Prescott, Derek Carr, etc. So much statistical success, but zero clutch ability. Kenny Pickett is the polar opposite.
Pickett doesn’t bother showing up until the fourth quarter. He looks tentative and unsure through the first three quarters, only to emerge as Klutch Kenny when it’s winning time. Whatever the reason, it’s up to the Steelers coaches to figure out how to get that version of Pickett to show up earlier in games.
Steelers Stock Trending in every direction: George Pickens
Pickens is the ultimate wild stallion. He is supremely talented, but completely unpredictable. You don’t want to break his spirit, but you have to be able to corral him enough to fully capitalize on his immense talents. Pickens has superstar potential, no doubt. He showed the work ethic and discipline needed to take the next step in his development during the offseason, but now he must showcase the self control necessary to keep his career on the right track, both on and off the field. Thankfully I believe that Pickens wants to be the best player he can be, and is trying to mature. The sky is the limit for this kid.
Steelers Stock Trending Worrisome: T.J. Watt’s health
Watt’s game changing interception to start the second half was the defensive play of the game. The play perfectly displayed his elite instincts and football IQ, making him the best defender walking the planet in my opinion. However, that one spectacular play has distracted the majority of Steelers Nation from the undeniable truth.
Watt is hurting. He wasn’t his usual explosive self against the Rams, and I fear the reason why. I don’t think his jacked up finger affected him at all, but I do believe his underreported heel injury impacted him greatly. He wasn’t able to explode off the line of scrimmage per usual. If he has a case of plantar fasciitis, then the issue could linger. My wife commented that it appeared that Watt was running gingerly on the interception return, and I agree with that assessment. Hopefully whatever was troubling Watt will clear up quickly, because he is the key component of the Steelers defense. I don’t want injuries to derail another DPOY caliber season.
Steelers Stock Trending Up: Najee Harris
I believe it was Jerome Bettis that gave Harris some bad advice back in his rookie season. The Bus instructed Harris to be more patient behind the line, and let the running lanes fully develop. He said that’s how big plays develop. That’s good advice, for an elite back with great vision and stop/start abilities like Le’Veon Bell. That’s terrible advice for Harris however.
Harris is a power back that relies on forward momentum. When he stops, or is forced to move laterally, the play is dead in it’s tracks. When Harris tries to bounce runs outside, he inevitably loses yardage, or struggles valiantly to get back to the LOS. However, when Harris hits the hole full speed with conviction, he produces positive results. His heart and will to win are beyond reproach.
Steelers Stock Trending Up: Trade deadline needs
It’s painfully obvious that the Steelers need to target NFL caliber secondary help prior to the trade deadline, especially another cornerback capable of playing press man coverage. The Rams have an impressive stable of receivers in Kupp, Nacua, and Atwell. Those three took turns embarrassing Steelers starters Levi Wallace and Patrick Peterson. Kupp and Nacua are definitely not speed demons, but they resembled Tyreke Hill every time they easily separated from Wallace and Peterson. Wallace had another particularly bad game. He was completely oblivious on the lollipop touchdown pass to Atwell, and was totally dusted on the two point conversation to Kupp later in the game.
Joey Porter Jr was the only Steelers CB capable of sticking with the Rams receivers on Sunday, and he was extra sticky throughout the game. Porter still needs work on his tackling, but he is the complete package at the position. The Steelers desperately need to acquire another press coverage capable corner prior to the deadline to pair with Porter, who I feel is an emerging star. It is by far their biggest need at the moment.
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