Wait a week before evaluating Steelers

September 23, 2017

How good are the Steelers?

We don’t know and we won’t know much more after their trip to Chicago. The Bears stink.

On paper, the Steelers’ defense looks much better, but it’s impossible to gauge how much it has improved after a game against a kid making his first start and somebody named Case Keenum.

The Browns rookie quarterback in Week 1, DeShone Kizer, actually looked more than respectable. He was 20-for-30 for 222 yards, one touchdown, one interception and an 85.7 passer rating. Spectacular, in fact, for a rookie making his first start.

He didn’t look so good against the Ravens last week – 15-for-31, no touchdowns, three interceptions, a lost fumble and a 27.3 passer rating. Those are the kinds of numbers a rookie quarterback making his second start is supposed to have.

Keenum has a 9-16 record as a starting quarterback and a career passer rating of 77.8. He looked helpless against the Steelers’ defense last week, but that’s how he’s supposed to look against any defense. He’s Case Keenum.

The Bears will, for some reason, be keeping the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, Mitch Trubisky, on the bench so they can start Mike Glennon at quarterback for the third week in a row. He’s 5-15 as a starter and last week against Tampa Bay had two interceptions and a strip sack/lost fumble. One of the interceptions was in the red zone and the other was a pick-six.

Bears head coach John Fox spent the week trying to convince the Chicago media that not starting Trubisky was a good idea.

The Steelers were given three gifts by the schedulemaker and should go into Baltimore next week with a 3-0 record.

And it won’t be until after that game that we know how much the defense has improved and/or how good the team is.

• Netting at Major League Baseball ballparks is an issue again after a four-year-old girl was hit by a foul ball line drive Thursday at Yankee Stadium. Most of the media was in hysterics because there are still parks without nets. The focus, of course, should be more on the stupidity of putting a four-year old girl in a field-level seat, but that might sound mean because of the little girl’s injuries.

People who get paid to watch games with a perfect, unobstructed view from the pressbox are quick to scold teams for endangering the lives of people who, fully aware of the danger, pay big bucks to sit in those unprotected seats.

I was a little too busy not caring about Major League Baseball to watch any games this weekend, but I’d appreciate it if you could send me the pictures of games at those unprotected parks. I’m guessing that the uproar over the ugly scene at Yankee Stadium produced row after row of empty field-level seats.

And, by the way, why is it that, when a ballpark is half full, it’s the dangerous sections that have few empty seats and all those safe sections in the outfield are wide open?

• This is beginning to look like another one of those two-steps-back Pitt football seasons. An encouraging year under a new coach followed by what’s beginning to look like a disaster. Pitt has an overtime win (at home) over a team it has no business playing and, after yesterday’s loss to Georgia Tech, three lopsided losses to teams that seem to be in a higher league.

One step forward, two steps backward.

• An entire Seattle high school football team knelt during the playing of the national anthem last week. Garfield High School’s coach endorsed the idea and said it was player driven. The players say it was to protest social injustices and they’ll continue to do it until they’re told to stop. The Seattle school board said it was OK because the players have a right to make their views known.

They need to make the players stand or stop playing the song.

“The Star Spangled Banner” is played before sports events as a way for people to honor the country. It was never intended to be used as a vehicle for a political survey. If/when it produces mass protests, it’s a negative and does nothing to add to anyone’s enjoyment of the game and should be stopped.

• Now that the Pirates have played a full season at PNC Park with extended netting, I’m looking forward to seeing the numbers that show a drastic decrease in the number of deaths and serious injuries from the first 16 years without netting.

• A group of NFL players led by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett has asked NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to dedicate the month of November to social activism. Why should a pro sports league want to dedicate a month to political discussion that could alienate at least half of its customers?

NFL players make lots of money. How difficult would it be for them to pull together a few million dollars to buy advertising on NFL telecasts and elsewhere to spread their message?

A guy like Bennett, who makes more than $600,000 a game, should be able to cough up 10 percent of that every week for a good cause.

Colin Kaepernick walked away from a contract that paid him more than $800,000 a game. That could buy a lot of effective ads.

That would seem to make a lot more sense than players taking huge amounts of money from their employers and demanding to be allowed to use the platform provided to chase away the customers who make that kind of a payday possible.

John Steigerwald writes a Sunday column for the Observer-Reporter.

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