Mid Week Observations
This has been a strange year in the NFL and a number of teams seem to be big disappointments while others, like the Steelers, are huge surprises.� Success or failure of any team shouldn�t be surprise once close inspection reveals the true nature of the NFL.� Indeed, the line between winning and losing in the NFL is so slight, that even a few timely plays can make all the difference in the world.
The Tampa Bay Bucs � As soon as the Bucs signed the Messiah, Brad Johnston, the home of the world�s best strip bars beamed in excited anticipation of the coming season.� Unfortunately, a QB is not all it takes to win - it takes a winning attitude as well.� The Bucs have mired themselves in an offense that cannot put points on the board.� Keyshawn is a great receiver � no doubt, but he is not complemented on the other side with speed or a deep threat.� Nor has the Buc running game been too consistent behind and average O-line.� Hence, their team is incomplete.� Furthermore, looking at the Bucs schedule, who would have guessed that they would even be vying for a playoff spot?� The Bucs have perhaps the nastiest schedule in the league � 2 with GB, 2 with Chicago and one with the Steelers and Rams.� That�s six games against top 5 playoff teams not to mention the fact that they still must play New Orleans, Baltimore and Philly the remaining three games of the year.� If Dungy can get this team to the playoffs, it will be nothing short of a miracle.
Indy Colts � The Colts have superior talent on offense, but their swoon started well before Edge was lost for the year.� All it took was for one well-coached team in the New England Patriots to overwhelm the Colts and expose them to the rest of the league.� This team has no defense and that fact has been exploited every game since week 3.� The 5-8 Colts also suffer from a nasty schedule:� 2 games with Miami, 2 with New England and 2 with the Jets � that�s just the division schedule.� What�s worse is having to play Oakland, Baltimore, New Orleans and San Francisco along the way with the Rams yet to come.� How can a team with only one good unit � and especially the offensive unit, expect to compete in the NFL with this kind of schedule.� It simply can�t be done.
Pittsburgh Steelers � The Steelers as we all know are a big surprise, but should they be? Recall that the Steelers set an NFL record for most consecutive quarters not to give up a TD last year.� They did this with the Ravens looming large over the football landscape and so perhaps went a bit unnoticed by most.� Then, the Steelers lost Kirkland in the off-season for cap reasons and all was thought to be lost.� Well, in steps Kendrall Bell � the second LB chosen in the draft and a definite first round pick if LB was a needy position by just a few teams.� As it turns out, the Steelers got Bell in the 2cnd round to go with Hampton in the first.� Suddenly, what was a good defense last year was an awesome unit leading the league in defense this year.� Furthermore, the simple addition of a QB coach and a new O-line coach has made this team one of the best if not the best in the NFL.� Fans quickly overlook what Russ Grimm has done with the offensive line � what was thought to be a weakness, is among the Steelers� strong points and one of the best units in the NFL.� Games the Steelers were losing in the waning moments last year are now cinched midway through the 4th quarter.� There is not a huge difference between the two, but the Steelers now have what most teams do not � balance.
Success in the NFL hinges on a slight and unfriendly edge.� It can be taken away by injury, chance and free agency just as quickly as it came. The Steelers must remain vigilant and must not take the fortunes they�ve had for granted.� Success should be enjoyed while it can be, but it will not last � sometimes not for even an entire season.