SI.com Home
Get SI's Duke Championship Package Free  Subscribe to SI Give the Gift of SI
Posted: Monday September 14, 2009 1:45PM; Updated: Wednesday September 16, 2009 1:23PM
Jerome Bettis Jerome Bettis >
INSIDE THE NFL

Bus Stops (cont.)

Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
willie-parker.jpg
Willie Parker was limited to 19 yards on 13 carries in the Steelers' Week 1 win.
John Biever/SI

3. One more reason Pittsburgh's in trouble: these Steelers are a mediocre running team on their best day. I don't think they've reached a panic situation quite yet because the Titans don't allow anyone to run the football on them. But there are serious problems.

Willie Parker: I haven't seen much from him. Rashard Mendenhall: I haven't really seen him, period. One thing I have seen is Mewelde Moore making plays. And I think the little guy's going to get more of those opportunities as the Steelers continue to grow into what I think will be more of a passing team in 2009.

The running back I like least on that team is Frank Summers, the rookie fullback. He doesn't seem to understand what's going on. He's missing plenty of blocks, and that's affecting everything. That definitely has to be addressed off the field this week.

The bigger problem, though, is the offensive line. They have no continuity. On top of not being able to protect Ben Roethlisberger, they're letting running backs get hit before they reach the line of scrimmage. There's not a lot any back can do in that situation.

This problem isn't anything new, and I blame the coaching staff for not addressing the line in the offseason. How did they rationalize not doing anything about it? Well, they won a Super Bowl. They won't be so lucky twice in a row. If Ben continues to get hit the way he did Thursday -- the same way he did last year, then this will come back to haunt the Steelers. Ben will get hurt. Ben will miss games. And they don't have a line to run behind without Ben. Pittsburgh can't repeat with the line playing like this.

4. Like it or not, Eagles fans, I see a quarterback controversy coming in Philadelphia. If Donovan McNabb is unable to play with his broken rib, then I think Andy Reid goes with Kevin Kolb for a week -- and that's not really a strong option -- before giving Michael Vick an opportunity in Week 3. Vick would get the Chiefs. Talk about a stacked deck.

I honestly believe Reid sees Vick as more than just a weapon or a Wildcat guy. I think he wants Vick to be the next guy there in Philly. Not right now -- because Donovan still provides the best chance to win -- but soon. It would be such an easy transition, right? Look at Donovan's early years: he was a runner. When things broke down he made plays with his feet. Andy Reid has built that into his offense, and in Vick he sees a guy who not only knows the West Coast offense but who can kind of give him a time warp at quarterback. The transition to Vick should be an easy one.

So Reid will tempt fate, risk a quarterback controversy, and play Vick when he's eligible. It beats playing Kolb again. Donovan McNabb is a guy who's been hurt before. It's going to happen again. And whether Andy Reid wants to say it or not, Michael Vick, not Kolb, is his backup. He needs to see what Mike can do. This situation really provides the perfect opportunity to play Vick without having to bench Donovan.

5. Who was surprised by the Cardinals' loss to a mediocre 49ers team? Not me. It's not like the Cardinals dropped off. This isn't a Super Bowl loser's curse. That game tells me that the Cardinals are the same exact team that went 9-7 in the regular season last year. That was barely an above average football team that got hot at the right time. I wasn't surprised in the least.

Email comments to siwriters@simail.com

1 2
ADVERTISEMENT
SI.com
Hot Topics: Boston Marathon NBA Playoffs NHL Playoffs LaMarcus Aldridge Dwyane Wade Carlos Gomez
TM & © 2013 Time Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved. Terms under which this service is provided to you. Read our privacy guidelines and ad choices.
SI CoverRead All ArticlesBuy Cover Reprint