Colin Dunlap: Steelers All But Finished This Season
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This Steelers season cannot be salvaged.
Just forget it. All is lost; it is done, over.
Such a reality came into the clearest view on Sunday in Oakland, as the Steelers (2-5) played an abysmal three quarters, got it together to a small degree, but still couldn’t catch the not-far-from-hapless-themselves Raiders and lost, 21-18.
So, when do the Stanley Cup playoffs start?
So, when do pitchers and catchers report to Bradenton?
Honestly, the remaining nine games for the Steelers will be two months of sitting in a purgatory, languishing through with the hope the squad might get to eight or nine wins, but secretly wishing under your breath they would just bag it and get dusted each week, so as to secure a lofty pick in the draft.
Come on, you know it is the truth. You might not want to admit it, but you know it is the truth.
So too is the fact that, no matter how perpetually optimistic you are, you really can’t see this team — as it is currently constituted — doing much of anything for the remainder of 2013.
And there are, quite obviously, myriad reasons why.
First, an offensive line that has been beaten, bruised and battered for much of 2013 had it happen to them again on Sunday.
Think about this for a moment that serves as the perfect microcosm as to how there truly is no hope for the offensive line — right guard Guy Whimper went down in the third quarter against Oakland … and you held your breath because you wanted Guy Whimper to get up.
Guy Whimper. Yes, Guy Whimper.
It has come to this; Guy Whimper is a pretty big loss.
That said, some guy named Cody Wallace was plugged into the position, replacing both Whimper and Ramon Foster, who had left earlier with a concussion.
Most Steelers fans probably don’t know what rock bottom is — but yearning for Guy Whimper has to be pretty close.
On top of that, the Steelers’ skill guys suddenly have been hit with a spate of consequential drops. Receiver Antonio Brown dropped two third down balls that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger made good throws on and tight end Heath Miller — generally as dependable as anyone — let a touchdown slip from his hands.
It marks the second week in a row Miller has failed to secure the football the way he normally does. In fairness to him, or at least to mention it, he doesn’t look to be anywhere near fully healthy — such is another reason why I can’t muster much hope moving forward.
And then there is the special teams, which very well could be featuring a new punter next week, as Zoltan Mesko has been horrendous. He had a punt blocked on Sunday — not helped by a feeble effort from David Paulson on a block — and has been a general disappointment since his signing.
Mesko’s rough game seemed to be expected, but one in which kicker Shaun Suisham goes 1 for 3 and misses attempts from 34 and 32 yards is not.
He came into the game a perfect 15 for 15 and departed Oakland leaving six easy points on the field in the three-point game. Suisham has been terrific with this team, but when he starts missing chip shots, it expedites my feeling to just see the season come to a close.
Know what else does? The ridiculous clock management blunders that have plagued head coach Mike Tomlin since the time he took over. No one in the fanbase or media knows where exactly the communication breakdown happens at the end of the half and at the end of games that has seen the Steelers lose second after second in important times over Tomlin’s tenure.
But the one undeniable truth — it just keeps happening.
How in the world am I (or you) supposed to get excited for watching nine more games where, almost certainly if past precedent holds, Tomlin will squander time when his team needs it?
The thought makes me want this season to be done, along with nestling onto my couch for the Oakland game and seeing a defense seemingly so ill-prepared at the start that they allow a 93-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage.
How did that happen?
How has much of this happened?
Most of all, what’s left to happen moving forward in 2013?
The answer to that last one is simple. The next two months will be a trudge of just going through the motions for this football team.
And also for you, even if you don’t want to admit it.
This season cannot be salvaged.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out his bio here.