Really, there’s one question we all have about the Steelers, and we don’t have the answer yet. We might have an answer tonight. The question is simply: “Are the Steelers a good football team?”
Tonight, they will go on the road to play the Carolina Panthers, one of the best teams in the NFL right now. It’s hard to go into a situation like that and win. And good. It should be hard.
Tonight is going to be difficult. The Panthers’ offense has a number of ways to hurt you, and the Steelers’ defense has shown little ability to stop any of them so far this year. The Panthers’ defense, even without pass rusher Greg Hardy (who is inactive due to beating up a woman, because he is an NFL player and that is what NFL players do), is going to be strong against a Pittsburgh offense that has been impotent since the first thirty minutes of the season.
The odds are stacked against the Steelers, and that is exactly what we need to see to really get a feel for the identity of the 2014 Pittsburgh Steelers. I’m not saying they have to win to achieve competence. In fact, if they lose, they’re simply 2-1, which is hardly insurmountable. It’s the way they play and the way they are coached tonight that will reveal the team’s real character. Last week, the Steelers were dominated start to finish by the Baltimore Ravens. If that happens again in Carolina, we can assume the worst about the Steelers, from any given special teams grunt all the way to Kevin Colbert. The Steelers don’t have to win tonight, but they have to compete. They have to keep pace with one of the league’s best teams.
If they play well, regardless of result, I think we can still be optimistic about the season. If they can’t rebound after last week’s sound defeat in Baltimore, I think it’s fair to start really question the job security of the coaches and management.
You’ve heard the idea of a “measuring stick” game. Let’s see if the Steelers measure up.