Jun 29, 2010
It’s time to start monitoring the vibes around the league because they will give us a good glimpse of fantasy’s future in 2010.
And right now, the vibes in Pittsburgh are pretty bad.
Not only is QB Ben Roethlisberger out 4-6 weeks – and possibly hurting overall team chemistry as well – they have now lost RT Willie Colon for the season. There’s no easy replacement for the Steelers, so this is yet another strike against their team this year.
This is particularly bad news for their passing game because, not only was it looking shaky to begin with after losing Santonio Holmes, you have under center possibly the worst QB in the league in terms of handing pressure in Byron Leftwich. Leftwich’s issues against pressure aren’t mental, they’re physical. He’s slow as molasses, and when he’s forced to move in the pocket and reset, you sometimes feel you can watch the Godfather Trilogy in the time it takes him to reset (okay, maybe just the first two films). Losing possibly their best offensive lineman will only make Leftwich’s problems worse. I seriously wonder now if this will help the more mobile Dennis Dixon’s chances of beating Leftwich out. I’m kind of hoping it does.
Overall, I just don’t have a good feeling about this passing game. I’m not sold on WR Mike Wallace on the outside. He could prove to be all that, but it’s very fair to question his effectively transitioning to the #2 role, as we’ve outlined repeatedly on the site. And Antwaan Randle El and Arnaz Battle don’t do much for me. It would have been really nice if they had Limas Sweed entering his third season at their disposal, but he’s done too. Sweed’s been a bust, but he is pretty talented. Now they’re going to be relying heavily on the 34-year old Hines Ward, who’s already talking about retirement in the near future, and also TE Heath Miller. Miller’s solid, but he’s no savior. Ward played at a very high level in 2009, but you always worry about him starting to break down or slow down, given his age and the beating he’s taken.
The thing that really scares me is how this all effects RB Rashard Mendenhall. The guy’s still a little bit of an enigma. I can certainly envision him running hard and “bringing it” all season, as he did last year, and if so his high-end talent will come to the surface. On the other hand, if the ship starts sinking, I can also envision him contributing to their descend. After all, this is a player who did not look good at all last preseason and who was probably a week or two away early last year to establishing permanent residency status in head coach Mike Tomlin’s doghouse. I’m trying my best to figure this guy out, but it’s not easy. He’s very talented, and they do want to/need to commit to him more than ever. But in the past he’s a guy who has underwhelmed, and I’m still not 100% convinced he’ll show us his best 100% of the time. Ray Rice, for example, I have zero questions about in this regard.
So Mendenhall is officially on my watch list. If I see any negative vibes in the summer in terms of his attitude or desire, or if he looks sluggish in the preseason, we’re going to have to move him down and outside the top-12 RBs. As the bad vibes mount up in Pittsburgh, Mendenhall’s margin of error decreases.