Wednesday, September 1, 2010
By Mike Batista
Peter! What's happening?
We're going to need you to go ahead and not pick the Steelers to win Super Bowl XLV.
The Steelers do better when they fly under the radar and no one expects them to do well.
So if you could just go ahead and pick another team to win the Super Bowl, that would be terrific.
And we're going to need you to come in on Sunday, too.
The Peter we're talking to is Peter King of Sports Illustrated, who predicts the Steelers to beat the Packers in Super Bowl XLV.
This prognostication assumes that Ben Roethlisberger's suspension will be reduced to four games, and that the Steelers will get off to a 3-1 start in those games.
Apparentely, like Peter Gibbons in "Office Space," Peter King didn't want to work on Sunday, either, because he could not possibly have seen the Steelers' 34-17 preseason loss to the Broncos.
Based on what I saw Sunday night, I'd be happy if the Steelers got off to a 2-2 start without Roethlisberger.
We were all obsessed with Dennis Dixon. He was like the hot new girl in school who everyone wanted to date. Then on Sunday, we finally got that date when he played with the first-team offense.
What happened was like taking the hot new girl out to a restaurant and finding out she burps really loudly.
Dixon completed just 9 of 16 passes, threw two interceptions and looked eerily like another Steelers quarterback who wore No. 10. The best of the backups in the Steelers' 34-17 loss was Charlie Batch, but since walkers aren't allowed on the field during regular-season games, he's not likely to start. He might not even make the team.
Cutting Batch would be a mistake. If the Bobs who decide on the Steelers' 53-man roster bring in Batch and ask him: "What would you say ... you do here?" He should tell them that he's the first person Roethlisberger goes to on the sideline when he gets off the field during games. He's sort of a mentor to Roethlisberger.
Of course, if that doesn't work, Batch can always scream, "I HAVE PEOPLE SKILLS! I'M GOOD AT DEALING WITH PEOPLE! CAN'T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT? WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?"
So right now Byron Leftwich looks like the winner by default in the Keep the Seat Warm for Ben Sweepstakes.
That means Park Avenue better be lined with Terrible Towels on Friday, because the fate of the Steelers' season rests on Principal Goodell's decision when he calls Roethlisberger into his office.
If Roethlisberger's suspension is any longer than four games, it's time to start analyzing the 2011 draft (if there even is one).
Now for the "Is it me ..." part of this column.
Is it me or did the Steelers' first-team defense look old Sunday night? I was not all that impressed with what I saw. James Farrior made an early exit because of the gash on his head, but he already looked old last year. Perhaps part of it is that Troy Polamalu still hasn't come out of his shell. Hopefully he's just decided to not start flying all over the field again until the games count.
Is it me or did the Steelers' offensive line not look half bad Sunday night? The first unit gave up two sacks, but one of them came when Dennis Dixon tried to get fancy on fourth-and-1. I saw a lot of solid pockets for Roethlisberger and Dixon to work in. I wonder how much of it has to do with Maurkice Pouncey. Considering how well he's handled the responsibilities of a position that has a standard set by greats like Mike Webster and Dermontti Dawson, it's hard to believe Pouncey just turned 21. I don't think I even had to shave every day when I was 21.
Is it me or did Rashard Mendenhall's runs, five of them for 28 yards, look electric? Will Jonathan Dwyer be one of his backups? Dwyer tried to make up for a dreadful training camp by rushing for 89 yards on 13 carries Sunday night, including a 17-yard run in the fourth quarter where he looked like a burrowing gopher moving a pile of Broncos. It doesn't matter that they were "down-the-liners," as Steelers coach Mike Tomlin calls them, those were still NFL-size bodies that Dwyer moved. Yet Tomlin's still not impressed. Dwyer still might not make the team.
Maybe he'll end up knocking on Peter's door selling magazines.
Toe hits pigskin in 11 days.
Posted by Mike Batista at 10:38 AM