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lamberts-lost-tooth
12-03-2007, 07:58 AM
Steelers remain work in progress
By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, December 3, 2007

What we have here is a failure to acknowledge the obvious.
The Steelers aren't who we thought they were.

At 9-3, the Steelers have far exceeded the expectations that most everyone outside the organization had for first-year coach Mike Tomlin.

The Steelers not making the playoffs now would be about as big of an upset as the odds were for them reaching the postseason prior to the start of the season.

The unknown factor was how a team that finished 8-8 a year after winning the Super Bowl would respond to a new coach with no track record.
After all, Tomlin was too young, too unproven.

To steal one of Tomlin's favorite lines, the Steelers are what they put on tape.

They're the class of the AFC North, a division they weren't expected to win. Now that the Steelers improved to 5-0 in the division following Sunday night's 24-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field there's talk that the division isn't what we thought it was.

You can't have it both ways. You can't say in the preseason that the Steelers weren't good enough to win the division, then decide the division is weak once the season gets underway.

Baltimore is down, Cleveland is up, and Cincinnati is Cincinnati.

The Steelers aren't a great team, but Tomlin never said that they were.

Sure, the Steelers have their flaws. Their three losses have come against inferior opponents -- games they should have won but failed to perform to their potential. That's Tomlin's responsibility.

Great teams come to play every week.

Remember, these Steelers remain a work in progress, making their 9-3 record even more impressive.

Legitimate concerns remain about the Steelers' offensive line and inconsistent special teams play. The offense -- which committed four turnovers against Cincinnati but was bailed out repeatedly by the defense -- continues to play in spurts. Even the Steelers' top-rated defense can be exposed against the right gameplan.

There are no perfect teams in the NFL, not even the almighty New England Patriots, who hung on to barely defeat the Philadelphia Eagles a week ago.

Imagine that. Tom Brady and Co. struggling against a weaker opponent. Just like the Steelers.

Last night against Cincinnati, the Steelers stifled one of the league's most potent offenses in continuing to distance themselves from the rest of the division.

They lead second-place Cleveland by two games and own the tie-breaker against the Browns.

It was believed that the Bengals, with their explosive three-receiver sets, could poke holes in the Steelers' secondary. Didn't happen.

The Bengals marched with surprising ease to a touchdown on their opening drive. But the Steelers frustrated the league's No. 3 passing attack most of the night. This from a defense that ranked No. 20 against the pass in 2006.

No, the Steelers aren't who we thought they were.

Right now, they're the best 9-3 team they can be.

Michael Keller
12-03-2007, 08:42 AM
I think Harris's assessment is objective and fair . Any further assessments should wait untill next Sunday .

SteelDogFan
12-03-2007, 09:00 AM
A 9-3 work in progress, agreed to a point. But actually all teams are a work in progress. Oh, except the Pats.

HometownGal
12-03-2007, 09:16 AM
Good read, LLT - thanks! :cheers:

I haven't believed all season that the Steelers are a great team and I agree that they have flaws - all teams do, even the Cheatsies (those flaws being exposed very well by the Colts earlier on in the season and most recently, the Eagles). I think Tomlin has done an awesome job with this team in his first year as HC, though he has made a few bumbles along the way which is only natural.

I believe our Steelers are a pretty good team at this point in the season, and are pretty much in sync with each other and that's a good thing going down the stretch. They do have some areas to work on, as the author points out, but all in all, I would put them in the Top 3 in the AFC.

memphissteelergirl
12-03-2007, 09:30 AM
Good article....and pretty accurate. The Steelers continue to improve, and at just the right time! :tt02:

Dino 6 Rings
12-03-2007, 10:05 AM
The 05 Team had some flaws as well.

Its all about overcoming the flaws and doing the best you can with what you have in all phases of the game.

klick81
12-03-2007, 11:32 AM
That was a nice read. No homerism, but also not hatred.

rbryan
12-03-2007, 11:52 AM
I must admit I was beginning to get a little cranky with Ben crying about the wet ball after the Bunglers drove right down the field on the first series.

But then I noticed that every time they showed Tomlin on the sidelines he didn't look worried at all. I figured if he's not worried then maybe everythings going to work out .................A moment of clarity for me