Steelers may be outsmarting themselves

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The Steelers could still force the road to Minnesota through Heinz Field. But they nevertheless will be resting multiple key starters for the Week 17 rematch with the Browns.

By not using his best players, coach Mike Tomlin essentially is conceding the No. 1 seed to the Patriots. Sure, the Steelers may still win. But the move cries out that winning isn’t the priority today; giving guys like Ben Roethlisberger and Le'Veon Bell a break is.

While it’s probably a safe bet that the Patriots won’t lose to the Jets, Tomlin is still taking a calculated risk by assuming that New England will clinch the top seed with a victory. Tomlin also is taking a calculated risk that a three-week break in game action will actually help his best players.

Regardless of which team the Steelers host in the divisional round (Jaguars, Ravens, Chargers, etc.), the opponent will have just won a playoff game. They won’t be trying to kick-start the engine. The motor already will be purring. The Steelers, in contrast, could be rusty. They could find themselves stumbling through the first quarter or two. They could end up being one and done.

The other side of the coin, of course, is the risk of injury against a Browns team that has nothing to lose, except of course its 16th game. If Roethlisberger, Bell, or any other key player who won’t play today would have played and gotten injured, Tomlin never would have heard the end of it.

Still, it’s one thing to rest starters when there’s truly nothing to play for. Who could criticize Tomlin for still reaching for the No. 1 seed until it was officially out of reach? At a minimum, Tomlin should have put his best guys on the field, at least initially. If/when the Patriots build a huge lead, then pull the starters off the gridiron.

If, in the end, the Steelers blow a shot at the No. 1 seed and/or experience rustiness two weeks from now in the divisional round, remember Tomlin’s decision. It’s an outside-the-box move that possibly was a product of trying to outsmart the Patriots — and as a result he possibly has outsmarted himself.

35 responses to “Steelers may be outsmarting themselves

  1. who cares, we can beat the div 3 Browns either way,,,,if we lose at NE in afc title game, resting players today will have NOTHING to do with it….

    beer cold, popcorn ready,let’s see history in the making… 0-16 is so amazing , it should be celebrated- with a parade

  2. Not saying it will happen again, but the Steelers beat the Browns last year while playing a lot of their subs.

  3. I don’t care about the Steelers or Pats, I just want the Browns to complete the perfect season and Tomlin’s decision could impact that negatively.

  4. OR, and stay with me here, maybe everyone knows that the Browns can be beat with a Div II college team?

    But you’re probably right – I’m SURE the Steelers have decided to just go ahead and lose to an 0-15 team right before the playoffs.

  5. It seems Mr.Florio is thinking about Tomlin overthinking why or which players he rests. Florio should equally think not to overthink in an article about the overthinking of a coach who probably isn’t really thinking about overthinking a situation that requires thinking about unnecessary injury. Actually, Tomlin, probabaly should have been overthinking a couple weeks ago when a certain game came down to the final seconds. Now, thinking he could be overthinking the thinking he’s doing now regarding the fact that the Steelers can’t control the Jests ability/inability to steal a win is just…overthinking it. Wait….or is it not overthinking it? (Sigh) I don’t know, but I think I’m overthinking what Mr.Florio was thinking regarding overthinking.

  6. Players that are relatively healthy don’t need 3 wks off. The steelers have a maximum of 3 gms left, with an extra week if they get to the SBowl, then it’s offseason. Taking teams lightly, even the Browns, sends the wrong message.

  7. Florio’s passion to crap on the Steelers is is well known. I’m sure he was landing on putting down Tomlin’s decision regardless of what it was.

  8. Saquon Barkley played great for Penn State yesterday. But he took a couple good shots to the thigh/knee area that make you go…yikes. 1 hit and his pro career is delayed/over. Same with the pro’s. So – the Pats aren’t losing to the Jets with the #1 seed on the line and the Steelers aren’t beating the Pats with Bell, Ben etc…so…rest em.

  9. It’s really kind of shocking that they wouldn’t want to put everything on the line for home field. Why would any opposing team willingly go into Gillette in January?

  10. walker1191 says:
    December 31, 2017 at 11:59 am
    You rarely see Steelers and smart in the same sentence.
    …..

    But somehow the Steelers manage to have the best record in the NFL over the last 50 years. More SB & playoffs wins plus 3 head coaches were smart enough to win SBs too. That was actually not a smart comment..

  11. The thing is the Steelers playoff losses have come with their best stars being injured.

    2010 – Pouncey was out (injured in the AFC title game i believe)
    2011 – Ben was hobbled in week 14 and never fully recovered despite being sat before the wild card game vs Denver
    2014 – Bell goes out week 17, steelers go out following week
    2015 – Ben plays hurt, Brown gone, Bell long gone, steelers bounced in divisional playing better vs Denver then the Pats or Panthers did.
    2016 – Bell doesnt play the second half and the Steelers get steamrolled

    Steelers resting their often injured players doesn’t seem like the worst strategy in the world.

  12. If Tomlin cannot beat the pathetic Browns even with Big Ben and Bell out then he needs to be fired.

  13. Agree it is somewhat of a risk but if they can’t beat the Browns still with Jones at QB he shouldn’t be the #2 QB. They still have Bryant, Shuscter, and both TE’s playing. I just don’t know why he didn’t sit Haden also. He is the one guy they have to have on the field for the playoffs.

    I say all this but if NE somehow chokes and we lose today with all those guys inactive Tomlin will never be able to live this loss down. I would have preferred to at least see a couple active but yank them out as soon as they get a lead.

  14. I said this a long time ago. Tomlin is softening up his best players. In two weeks, they won’t want to get off the couch. They’ll be rusty and soft. Why give Sad Ben more time to stuff his face? And we all know what Bell does with too much time on his hands. Better get out the UDS kits.

  15. suncawy says:
    December 31, 2017 at 12:05 pm
    The games are fixed ! The Patriots are going to win and the Steelers already know this since their sitting their starters.

    Please, please learn how to spell. and, while you’re smartening up, realize that games are not fixed.

  16. steelchampions says:
    December 31, 2017 at 12:12 pm
    It seems Mr.Florio is thinking about Tomlin overthinking why or which players he rests. Florio should equally think not to overthink in an article about the overthinking of a coach who probably isn’t really thinking about overthinking a situation that requires thinking about unnecessary injury. Actually, Tomlin, probabaly should have been overthinking a couple weeks ago when a certain game came down to the final seconds. Now, thinking he could be overthinking the thinking he’s doing now regarding the fact that the Steelers can’t control the Jests ability/inability to steal a win is just…overthinking it. Wait….or is it not overthinking it? (Sigh) I don’t know, but I think I’m overthinking what Mr.Florio was thinking regarding overthinking.

    ++++

    After giving the above much thought, I think you’ve won this thread.

  17. Well if Brady or Kronk tear an ACL today in a game versus the pathetic Jets, well then Tomlin’s decision looks good. The Patriots are 7-3 in games not decided by Al Riveron and 5-0 in Riveron decided games when scores were taken away by dubious calls in NY so unless they need Al today, they should win and clinch the first seed.

  18. If this isn’t classic Monday morning Quarter Backing I don’t know what is. Whichever decision the steelers chose someone would complain. Start Ben bell heyward etc, and if they get injured people scream what a bonehead move, you risked a starter just for home field?? Lose to the Browns combine with a patriots loss(unlikely) and people scream you could have had home field. If the steelers do come out flat and lose in the playoffs people scream, see, too much rust.

    To beat New England or any good team in the playoffs you need ALL of your stars. Last year the steelers lost Bell after half a dozen snaps in AFC title game. Any fan who knows football knows what a threat bell can be. This year Brown went down in first quarter against NE which took away a major threat, and who knows if he will be back for playoffs? Imagine the pats without Gronk? The guy is a beast.

    If the steelers do have to go to NE for a playoff game, going there without brown will be hard enough, going without roethlisberger, Hayward or bell will be impossible. Here is the key point. Lose to the Browns, but bell heyaward or Ben doesn’t get a season ending injury, and NE loses, the steerlers are still in the playoffs and with a healthy roster. No harm. Play the starters one of them gets injured and NE loses to the Jets, and now you’ve got home field, but you’re down more starters. Home field is important but never ever more important than starters.mmask NE fans if they would rather have home field, or a healthy Gronk, and Brady? When Carr went down for the raiders last year they had no chance.

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