Updated: May 29, 2020
We’re fresh off another missed playoff season for our Pittsburgh Steelers. To be honest I’m kind of glad the shitshow is over (for now). Maybe I’m a bit emotional after losing to RGIII and the Raven’s bench, or maybe it’s the 10 Irons I had throughout the game coming out of me here. Whatever the reason, I think it’s time for some bitter pessimism and honesty regarding the Steelers.
In the words of Mark Madden “A lot of Steelers fans aren’t “Steelers fans” any more. They’re marks for whatever player’s name and number they wear.” Nothing could more accurately describe a certain contingent of brainless fans who have become so emotionally involved in the popularity of their favorite players that they forget what the sport is actually about. Winning.
But hey… at least we had some awesome social media moments and totally hilarious memes to hang our hats on right? Here’s a recap of the fan favorites you can reminisce on during the offseason.
“Number 72 is Reporting As An Eligible Receiver”
If you were at Heinz Field for a game this year, then this phrase is probably burned into your cochlea by now. Not only was Zach Banner critical to helping the Steelers achieve the 26th ranked rushing offense in the league this year (YPG), but he became a cult-hit amongst fans when his number was constantly called out for his ability to lineup as the sixth offensive lineman on “heavy” formation.
While we all had so much fun cheering for Zach Banner to run a corner route, the Steelers had an awful rushing attack. James Connor tallied 464 yards — the first time a leading rusher for the Steelers had less than 500 yards since ever. Good thing we brought in Banner to help block for him.
The Steelers offense as a whole managed to score just 6 touchdowns on the ground all season. SIX. Sixteen individual players had more than 6 touchdowns this season, and 3 of them were quarterbacks (Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, DeShaun Watson). But remember how much fun we had cheering for #72 to come in and block?
A Record Year for Duck Calls and Camo Sales in The Strip
I’m not going to lie. I was caught up in the potential meme magic of Devlin Hodges myself. When he came into the game against the Ravens in week 5, I admired his “cool as a cucumber” attitude. The following week he won on the road against the Chargers, and showed such a lovable personality that I began to think we had some weird miracle happening at quarterback.
Apparently many in Pittsburgh felt the same way, and in a matter of 2 weeks we had duck calls and duck shirts all over town. Well, we were all wrong. Duck Hodges sucks. In between hunting trips with James Washington, Hodges managed to pull off a win against the self-imploding Cleveland Browns before dropping 3 straight to end the season. His final stat line: 5 TDs, 8 INTs, and a 75.8 QB Rating. They’ll be shipping the extra duck shirts to Africa tomorrow because no one else is buying them in Pittsburgh.
Mike Tomlin has never had a losing season during his tenure in Pittsburgh, but it sure felt like it these past two seasons. If there’s one word to sum up this decade for Tomlin and the Steelers I would say “underachieved”.
Whether it’s Mike T’s fault or not, the fact is that the Steelers are 5-6 in the playoffs since 2010 including losses to Tim Tebow and whoever was playing quarterback for the Jaguars in 2017. This decade also includes 4 seasons of missing the playoffs.
I gained a lot of respect for Tomlin this season, and maybe I’m just being a spoiled bitch with my constant criticism, but the trending topic of “Tomlin for Coach of The Year” was way overplayed. There have been multiple games this season in which I’ve pulled my hair out from clock management, stupid challenges, or fake punts. Don’t even get me started on the offensive coordinating. Maybe he will have better luck next year coaching for the Washington Redskins. (I can’t give up my sources, but rumor has it Tomlin’s move to Washington is a real possibility).
With the exception of Donte Moncrief, Ryan Switzer is the worst wideout I’ve ever seen play for the black and gold. It’s baffling to me that Eli Rogers is begging for scraps somewhere on an XFL roster while Switz is working on his dance moves with JuJu on social media.
This isn’t even a controversial take at this point. Switzer is about as explosive as a glass of 2% milk. In nine games this season he had 8 catches for 27 yards. Now that’s impressive. By the way, no one out pizzas the hut.
The first time I realized that JuJu Smith-Schuster is extremely annoying was a couple weeks after his bike was stolen during his rookie season. I followed him on Instagram to monitor the saga of him passing his driver’s test and buying his first car. It was all very wholesome and enjoyable.
Then he began posting more and more on social media, and the content got worse and worse. I remember one particular morning he posted 20 videos of himself driving his new Tesla on I-279 while singing along with a rap song, and screaming “It’s litty” out the window to other people driving alongside him. If nothing else, it was some of the most distracted driving I’ve ever seen. So it came to no surprise when he hit social media again this season to show himself driving over 100 MPH.
Have you driven around Pittsburgh lately? Have you seen people looking at their phone while they’re driving? Do you like those people? Imagine for one minute you’re driving 60mph on the highway next to someone who wasn’t playing receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and that person began screaming from their window about how lit the song is while simultaneously filming you on their iPhone. Would you like that person?
I still cheer for him on the field, and I know he can be an impactful offensive weapon. When I see 19 make a big play I’m as excited as anyone else. But when he does anything off the field I feel like I’m constantly being sold Fornite and Pepsi from someone whose gestures are as genuine as the tits you see in Hollywood. I guess JuJu is from LA after all, so maybe I just don’t understand that lifestyle.
I do think our receiving corps as a whole look solid for 2020. I also think Diontae Johnson will have a better career than JuJu when all is said and done. He certainly seemed more focused in 2019.
The Bottom Line
What else can be said? The Steelers started the season 1-4, and Ben Roethlisberger was on the IR by week 3. In those situations, there isn’t much for Steeler Nation to cling on to. Maybe that’s why we spent the entire season cherishing memes and lit content instead of actually admitting we sucked.
One thing is certain in 2020 — nothing is certain. Even Roethlisberger couldn’t escape the memery of this season when he was shown looking unshaven and scraggly on the sidelines during broadcasts. If he’s unable to throw the ball ever again is yet to be determined, but if not, Steeler Nation will be clinging to memes again next season for a third straight missed playoff season.