I recall the opening game of the 1989 season when the Browns came to Three Rivers to take on a Steelers team that, coming off a 5-11 season in 1988, didn’t offer all that much hope for 1989.
What I didn’t expect was a Browns 51-0 win that saw Cleveland collect turnover after turnover, and former defensive coordinator Bud Carson do what he could in his first game as Browns coach not run up the score on Chuck Noll.
Fast forward 24 years later and two more Super Bowls, and it appears the Steelers are right back to square one – at least on defense.
The 55-31 embarrassment Sunday to the Patriots was shocking in a number of ways.
Not just that they lost, sadly that’s been the case in 6 of 8 games this season, but how they lost.
A once proud defense that seems to have way to many high draft picks and overpriced, aging players, a coaching staff that week after week gets outcoached, and a franchise that after an 8-8 season last year is going to be lucky it appears to get to 5-6 wins this season.
You want the 1980’s all over again Steeler Nation?
Unless this organization, held by many as the finest in the NFL, makes some very tough hard decisions in nine weeks when this disaster of a season is over, you will have futility for a long time to come.
Dejan Kovacevic from the Tribune-Review couldn’t have been more spot on Sunday when he wrote that both OC Todd Haley and DC Dick LeBeau both need to be dismissed after the 2013 season.
Haley has been a disaster with the club since he was forced into the post last season. Ben Roethlisberger and he clearly don’t see eye to eye, and the offense has never truly been on track after the team was at one point 6-3 last season.
He tried to force a run game down the teams throat when it A: didn’t have the line to do it, and B: clearly underestimated that this is a passing league, and your best offensive player is wearing #7 under center.
As for the defense, Sunday’s outing speaks for itself, and while it’s not all on Lebeau, maybe like a head coaching change, the unit needs a new voice.
As Kovacevic points out, LB coach Keith Butler is a perfect candidate for the spot, and deserves a chance to implement his defense.
This is a critical time in the franchise’s proud history.
They need to use the next 8 weeks, as painful as it may be, to set itself up for 2014 and beyond.
They have to find out if those players that will be free agents are even close to worth bringing back in 2014, and also make hard decisions about the men that are running the team from top to bottom.
This is not the time to go any further back than where the organization is – they need to not feel sorry for themselves and need to proudly start to right this ship again.
Otherwise, it could be the 1980’s all over again.
And trust me from experience as a fan of that era – you think right now isn’t fun?
That time as a fan was brutal.
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