By Jeremy Hritz
A weekend without Steelers football? Yikes. Very scary and fitting for Halloween season. And even more fitting, upon their return from the bye week, the Steelers will take on the Cleveland Browns in a pivotal game that could indicate the direction of the season. Win, and stay in contention for the postseason. Lose, and face a massive uphill battle, especially with the schedule from hell following the game against the Bears and Lions. As we accept the reality of a non-Steelers football weekend, enjoy my Steelers Study Notes for 10/21/21.
- No. The Steelers are not going to trade James Washington for a speedster to stress defenses. It sounds nice in theory, but if they made that move and then had an injury to either Chase Claypool or Diontae Johnson, you could realistically be talking about Ray Ray McCloud as your # 3 receiver. Just don’t see it happening, and it just wouldn’t be smart with JuJu Smith-Schuster already out for the season.
- The Baker Mayfield injury has to be majorly concerning to the Browns. Not only does he have a torn labrum, but he also has a fractured humerus, and his availability for the Steelers game is in question. He is one shot away from being out for an extended period of time. If he does play, look for lots of max protection against the Steelers and an emphasis on the running game.
- Ed Bouchette of The Athletic made a great point about Devin Bush and his ACL injury, even pulling former Steeler Bud Dupree into his discussion: “The play of linebackers Devin Bush and Bud Dupree this season should underscore the general opinions that it takes a full year to recover from a torn ACL.” Dupree, in case you haven’t paid attention, has been quiet in Tennessee, as has Bush, and as much criticism as Bush has received as of late due to his underwhelming play, there should be some grace extended his way.
- Even though he has had some shorties, how about some love for Pressley Harvin? He looks to be the Steelers punter for the next 10 years, and once he figures it out, and consistent All-Pro. And sticking with special teams, kudos to the Steelers for sticking with Chris Boswell during his down year. Dude has been Mr. Clutch in 2021. Gotta give some love to Danny Smith and the special teams for their performance this season.
- On a Study Session earlier this week, I discussed the importance of the Steelers defeating the Browns on Halloween and how that could end up in a 6-3 record before the face the most brutal part of their schedule. If they are able to pull that off, and then go 4-4 in their final 8 contests, they will finish the season 10-7, which should be good enough for a Wild Card spot. What’s the point? The Steelers HAVE to win in Cleveland next weekend.
- The identity of this Steelers team? Average, but gritty, resilient, and persevering. They will not quit on a game, and that will give them a fighting chance in every contest. It will never be pretty, but they will hang around enough to win at least 8 or 9 games. That is the floor for this year.
That is all for today! Make it a great one!