Steelers' problems hard to pinpoint
• I flew to Pittsburgh this morning for a charity event, and what a day it was to be in this town. The word I would use to describe the atmosphere is "despair." Nobody could have expected the way this season has unfolded. Nobody knows where to go from here. These very Steelers won a Super Bowl last February, and yet now they're 6-6 with just about the same roster. That's a hard thing to deal with. It's even harder when you try to think about how to fix it.
From my viewpoint, it's nearly impossible to put a finger on what's wrong. It's something new every week. This week it was the secondary putting forth their worst effort. That unit hasn't been the problem every week, but it was the issue this week. Every week there's someone letting this team down.
Several people asked me, "What's wrong with the Steelers, Bus. And how do they fix it?" It's not that simple, folks. Is it
• In the same game, I thought
• What is it they always say about great football teams? They find a way to win. The Steelers didn't; but the Saints did, in a remarkable comeback at Washington. Go down the rosters of great teams and you'll find those guys who don't give up, guys who finish off every single play. These guys ooze effort. And there you have New Orleans'
• Here's what I'll say about being 12-0 and thinking about whether to rest your starters down the line (as is the case in New Orleans and Indianapolis): As a player I always wanted the rest; but as a teammate I always knew that you have to stay active. I always favored the idea, late in the season, of having guys play part of a game, but not the whole thing. Get your guys on the field, keep their rhythm going, and then get 'em out of there. Minimize injury risk. I also happen to think that the Colts and the Saints are two totally different teams when it comes to this conversation. The Colts have been here before, and they have more veteran players who've been down this road; guys know how to keep their concentration. They can probably afford to sit some players in the last few games without suffering the mental effects. The Saints are new to this whole winning thing; they have a younger, less experienced roster, and they should probably be more concerned about home field throughout the playoffs than any other team. So I think they have to keep plowing ahead. Don't slow down.
• As much as I like the league's new approach to concussions, we're already seeing a few flaws with the system. We saw it with
• I'm sold on the Cardinals -- when they play tough competition. They're a better team defensively than they were last year, but you still don't know who you're going to get on a given day: the devastatingly good Cardinals that beat Minnesota, or the just-above-average Cardinals that, for example, lost to Carolina and Tennessee. No team plays to their opponent's level more than Arizona. So what happens come the playoffs, when Arizona's not the underdog?