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Schrödinger’s Defense


What’s in the box!?!

Going into this season, we all knew what to expect from the Steelers’ offense: awesomeness. Even on a bad night, they still racked up twenty-one points… which just a few years ago, was about the maximum output for this team. I will not spend valuable time discussing what went wrong on offense, because it can be summarized in a few, poignant words: drops, missed field goals, and an ill-timed trick play.

Simply, I am not worried about the offense. In fact, I vehemently aver (editors’ note — means “state”, which is classy, Tiger) that once Le’Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant return, this offense is going to be record-settingly good. Games like Thursday night, where the offense only puts up twenty-one points, will be the basement, not the ceiling.

The same can not be said for the defense.

Before the season began, the defense was akin to the cat inside of Schrödinger’s box: it had the possibility of being either dead or alive (or somewhere in between). Some fans swore that it was going to be the worst defense in NFL history. Others were confident that this defense would be just about as good as any of Pittsburgh’s previous defenses. As Schrödinger would point out: they were both right. Until the season started, any predictions were merely just conjecture; there was no way to know with 100% certainty how the defense would actually play.

Last season ended on a high note (only allowing seventeen points per game during the final four games). While those four games were certainly a good sign, they may or may not have had any actual bearing on this season. Conversely, despite the defense struggling mightily during the preseason, those five abysmal performances may not have accurately predicted how the real season will actually go. Additionally, there were a multitude of contributing factors (injuries, a new defensive coordinator, the starting line-up not playing together) that could have altered how good (or bad) this defense would be. Thus, despite any and all indicators, there was no way to know with complete certainty how the defense would perform… until we actually “opened the box.”

And, the Patriots certainly opened up that box for us.

First of all, the defense is certainly not dead. There were moments where Pittsburgh’s defense pounced on Tom Brady… literally (Will Allen sacked Brady). Likewise, when Pittsburgh’s back was against the wall (down by eighteen points), the defense stiffened and forced New England to punt. In short, the defense made enough plays to show me that it at least has a pulse.

That said, this defense is far from frisky. For example, if I were to ask anyone on the street who New England’s best player is, most would reply: Rob Gronkowski. Yet, there were times when Gronkowski was left completely uncovered. Sure, Julian Edelman was running circles around Antwan Blake, but Edelman is not going to win the game all by himself; whereas, Gronkowski can. The visual that is scorched on my brain is Pittsburgh’s secondary muddling around, and by the time that Robert Golden finally sees that Gronkowski is uncovered, it is too late.

In summation, it is clear that while the cat inside is alive, it is need of medical attention. Thankfully, we are not talking about radiation poisoning and/or brain cancer; instead, this cat merely needs some stitches, a bowl of warm milk, and a comfortable bed. Do not get me wrong: this defense is not good, but it is closer to being alive than it is to being dead.

Furthermore, instead of expecting this cat to be an alpha male, we should probably temper our expectations. It will run a little bit, but mostly it will walk; it will be able to jump down from the couch, but jumping back on will require some effort; and most importantly, it will chase away rats and birds, but will not hunt them down. In other words, thankfully the Steelers also have a Rottweiler on offense, that will keep the house safe.

Tiger is a Steelers contributor to The Point of Pittsburgh

2 Comments on Schrödinger’s Defense

  1. Harry Schade // September 14, 2015 at 9:26 PM //

    Nice touch using the Schrödinger exemplar…and a spot-on analysis of our beloved Steelers! The D will improve, unless the cat experiences multiple injuries.

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