Happy New Year. After a week off, the blog is back after overdosing on food, football and more football. Here’s to hoping 2019 is one to remember.
• The Steelers’ 2018 season has to go down in the books as a colossal failure. Picked as a Super Bowl favorite, the Steelers flat out disappointed us from opening day. I remember watching the opener against Cleveland and remarking that the tie could end up costing the Steelers a playoff spot. Sure enough, it did.
• It’s hard to figure out how the Steelers could tie the Browns in the opener when they had a double digit lead in the fourth quarter, lose to bad Oakland and Denver teams, plus blow a sixteen point lead at home against the Chargers. Had they won just one of those games the Steelers would have been in the playoffs.
• The Steelers looked like they had no interest in playing in their season finale against the Bengals. They were terrible, and lucky to win. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Cleveland Browns teased us by looking like they would beat Baltimore to give the AFC North to the Steelers. Leave it to Cleveland to blow it, the one and only time the Steelers were rooting for their bitter rivals.
• Despite cries from the Yinzers, Mike Tomlin will not be fired by the Steelers. That doesn’t mean Art Rooney II won’t demand changes, and well he should. He needs to make it clear to Tomlin that the soap opera we watched this year doesn’t happen again. Rooney should demand some changes in the coaching staff plus more discipline from Tomlin. He should also mandate that Tomlin hire someone to assist him from the press box when it comes to challenges and clock management. Tomlin is awful in both areas. It’s time he admits it and gets the help he needs.
• Antonio Brown is a world class talent with the maturity of a five year old. AB’s latest drama is now headline news. He apparently quit on his team and now may seek a trade. There’s little chance the Steelers will trade Brown. They would never get back what they need to have the trade make sense. More importantly, the Steelers would take a major salary cap hit by dealing Brown. They simply can’t do that. It’s time for Mike Tomlin to lay down the law with his talented receiver. If he won’t do it, Art Rooney must.
• Penn State ended a frustrating season with a bitter loss in the Citrus Bowl. The Lions looked horrible for three quarters before senior quarterback Trace McSorley nearly rallied them for the win against Kentucky of the SEC. In the end, Penn State came up short, which pretty much summed up their season. The Lions blew leads against Ohio State and Michigan State, two games they should have won. They ended the season with nine wins, which just isn’t good enough. James Franklin will get some heat for this latest loss, and well he should. He needs to be better in 2019. The same goes for the Lions.
• Pitt looked awful in the Sun Bowl and finished with three straight losses to end the season with a 7-7 record. Pitt deserves credit for turning around its season midway through the year on its way to the ACC Title Game. But the way things ended won’t do much to excite the Panthers’ fan base going forward. Like Franklin at Penn State, Pat Narduzzi also needs to be a lot better in 2019. His Panthers also need to be a whole lot better.
• Once again it’s Alabama against Clemson for college football’s national championship. Both teams put on quite a show in their semifinal wins, proving that they are the two dominant programs in college football. Either team could win this thing, they’re each that good. Still, if I had to pick I would go with Alabama. I think the Tide is the most complete team in college football. And their head man on the sidelines, Nick Saban, is perhaps the greatest coach in the history of the game. I think it will be another good game, and it will be close. But in the end the Tide will do it again.
• The Pens are red hot. They’ve now won six games in a row and look like a complete team. The Pens are getting great goaltending, which wasn’t the case for so much of the season. The defense has played much better as well. If you watch the Pens you can see that they are gaining confidence each time out. And, we’re not even to the trading deadline yet where Jim Rutherford nearly always makes a move. Look out for the Pens in 2019.