How The Steelers Went From An AFC Favorite To The Most Dysfunctional Locker Room In The League
posted Oct 13 2017, 09:52PM
story by Lee Harvey
posted in NFL, News

Can the Steelers refocus & beat the undefeated Chiefs?

It all started in the offseason when running back Le'Veon Bell held out of training camp because he wanted a new long-term deal. He even said he wanted to be paid like the best RB in the NFL & the 2nd best WR on the team....next to Antonio Brown of course. Instead due to holding out, he missed the entire preseason, didn't get the long-term deal he wanted & ended up signing the franchise tag ($12.1M)

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That was the only kind of drama surrounding the Steelers during the offseason. Once the regular season started, Mike Tomlin made it clear that they have 1 goal in mind for the 2017-18 season....win the Super Bowl. Week 1 was a bit shaky but they got the win at Cleveland over the Browns 21-18. Week 2 they handled a Minnesota Vikings team 26-9 who didn't have their starting QB Sam Bradford due to a left knee injury.

Week 3 is what really tested Pittsburgh mentally, they lost to a bad Chicago Bears team 23-17 in OT https://Jordan Howard for the win but what happened before the game was what got the most attention. All 32 teams around the league wanted to show a sign of unity & togetherness after Donald Trump said any player who takes a knee during the National Anthem should be fired. Well most teams like the Ravens, Jaguars, Raiders, Redskins, Colts & more either kneeled, locked arms and kneeled or stood up & locked arms. All 52 Steelers players stayed in the locker room during the playing of the National Anthem in Chicago except for left tackle/Army veteran/Army ranger Alejandro Villanueva.

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After all the games on week 3 started, Villanueva's jersey became the #1 selling jersey on the NFL's official store in a 24-hour period because he was the only Steelers player willing to stand during the National Anthem. Some of his teammates & head coach Mike Tomlin were surprised because apparently, Alejandro didn't tell anyone that he was gonna stand for the Anthem. A day later Villanueva came off very apologetic & full of regret. Here's what Villanueva said:

"I made Coach Tomlin look bad and that is my fault and my fault only. I made my teammates look bad and that is my fault and my fault only. I unintentionally threw my teammates under the bus. Every time I see that picture of me standing by myself, I feel embarrassed."

Alejandro wasn't the only one expressing regret, QB Ben Roethlisberger also spoke about the anthem situation. Here's what Big Ben said:

"I just felt like that I wish that we would have been on the field. That's just my personal feeling on it. I'm entited to that opinion. That's what's great about this country and what the troops are for. I wish we could have stood out there."

Week 4 they beat the Ravens 26-9 on the road. Le'Veon Bell was a big part of the win carrying it 35 times for 144 yards & 2 TD's, his 1st 100-yard game of the season. The defense played well too forcing 3 turnovers but all of that was overshadowed by Antonio Brown losing his mind on the bench because Ben Roethlisberger missed him running wide open in the middle of the field https://AB gotta calm down. Ben spoke about Antonio going crazy:

"He got upset because he was open, which I can understand. Sometimes that happens....it's not like I intentionally missed him, it's not like I intentionally didn't throw it to him. I was doing what my reads tell me to do. I don't even want to say I made a mistake, because I was reading the side I was supposed to read. It's just unfortunate that it happened and it's unfortunate that he acted and reacted that way. I told him on the sideline, 'AB just come talk to me, ask me what happened, tell me that you were open.' I'm not trying to call AB out but this is causing a distraction that none of us really need."

Week 5 the Jaguars come into Pittsburgh & dominate the Steelers 30-9, one of the more embarrassing home losses I've seen from that franchise in a while. Ben Roethlisberger had his worst game ever throwing 5 INT's including 2 returned for TD's. After the game he said "maybe I don't have it anymore," interesting knowing during the offseason Big Ben hinted at retirement but decided to be "all in" for this season. A week later after complaining about not getting the ball, maybe Ben was trying to forcefeed Antonio Brown cause AB ended up have 10 catches for 157 yards on a career-high 19 targets.

Le'Veon Bell surely wasn't happy about the loss but he was also unhappy about the number of carries. He was asked about only having 15 carries for 47 yards:

"I don't think we got enough attempts. I feel we're a good enough team to wear guys out whether they know we're running the ball or not."

Bell's comments could come from a combination of 2 things to me. Him thinking about that long term deal he's been wanting, in order to get that deal his numbers gotta look good. Like 250-300 carries, 1,300-1,400 yards & 10+ TD's type good barring any injuries of course. Seeing rookie RB Leonard Fournette carry the rock 28 times for 181 yards & 2 TD's in your house, that can be a tough pill to swallow. I don't blame Bell for being frustrated. When the game was 9-7, they started to throw the ball more like they were down by 20 or something. Which led to Big Ben throwing back-to-back pick sixes.

TE Jesse James who hasn't caught a touchdown since week 1 vs. the Browns questioned the creativity of Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley's playcalling :

"I think defenses have had good gameplans for us. Jacksonville did a good job [on Sunday] taking away our crossing routes, which we've been using the past couple of weeks. Obviously they game-planned for that, hanging in the flat there, keeping an eye on us coming across....I think we will just be hopefully be a little less predictable, get more game-plan stuff in."

With everything that the Steelers have gone through on & off the field and airing out all their business to media, as a Steelers fan you just hope that they're focused enough to go on the road and compete against a 5-0 Chiefs team who doesn't mind scoring 40 on you.

Lee Harvey
25 years old. Big fan of Ohio State football, Cavs/Celtics basketball & Cleveland Indians baseball. Looking forward to start a new journey in writin...



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