JuJu Smith-Schuster from Steelers received his comeuppance

The Cleveland Browns couldn’t wait.

To celebrate. Talk rubbish. Win.

They didn’t hold back. Not against this team. Not after nearly two decades of misery in Pittsburgh, where they hadn’t won a street game since 2003 until their 48:37 win in the wildcard playoffs on Sunday evening.

Not after Steeler’s recipient JuJu Smith-Schuster apparently, as Michael Jordan would say, “added another protocol to their motivational fire” before the game. He had the courage to gasp for air! – say “the Browns are the Browns.”

Don’t think that Smith-Schuster wasn’t trying to disregard the Browns. Don’t think that he was essentially trying to repeat a Mike Tomlin ism.

The Browns, as most teams do in the playoffs, took the perceived light and ran with it, ridiculous as it was. And god bless her it seemed to work.

Baker Mayfield shouted the phrase as he jumped into the locker room after the game. Myles Garrett said, “We definitely didn’t appreciate it.” Kareem Hunt said something similar.

Good for you.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) greets Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (19) after beating her in an NFL wildcard playoff soccer game in Pittsburgh on late Sunday, January 10, 2021. (AP Photo / Keith Srakocic)

But Cleveland didn’t win this game because of those words, and this isn’t a column about Cleveland. This is about Pittsburgh and how a Steelers team that started the season 11-0 for the first time in team history so meekly ended up losing five of their last six games.

It is easy to blame the speakers or their “off-field” antics for some of the Steelers’ problems as the brilliant Smith cobbler has found himself in the midst of two “controversies” this season, the other being his foreplay on TikTok dances on the opponent’s midfield logo, which eventually drew the wrath of opponents (he would get rid of it later in the season).

The truth is that his comment, “Browns is the Browns,” or his fellow receiver Chase Claypool, who says the “Browns are gossiped by Kansas City,” doesn’t matter.

Yes, the Browns rub the faces of the Steelers in defeat, but let’s face it, Cleveland didn’t need motivation to win this game and end its streak of playoff futility. The Steelers lost Sunday night after getting their butts in the front on either side of the ball by a team that has been their little brother at AFC North for decades. Steeler’s trainer Mike Tomlin should be more concerned about this – and about the status of his 38-year-old Hall of Fame quarterback, who threw an absurd 68 times on Sunday – than what his young receivers are doing to the opponent to heat up. That’s nowhere near the biggest problem Pittsburgh’s offense has, as the 31 top division defeats are easily on the Steeler’s list of problems, right behind the complete lack of a game in progress.

The story goes on

For Tomlin, that must be the biggest disappointment of the season. He believes in physical football, which is in keeping with the city’s workers’ ethos. Steeler’s fans were born and raised watching Jerome “The Bus” Bettis, Barry Foster, and Franco Harris wearing black and yellow dodge, duck, and truck defenders.

Even with James Conner on a contract season that year, the Steelers failed to establish the run necessary to bolster an aging quarterback who should have received treatment from Tom Brady in 2018: pass the ball on This grinding attack the game and do some big throws if necessary.

Had the Steelers been doing this all season, they could have worn some of Roethlisberger’s surgically repaired elbows. Had the Steelers done that, Roethlisberger might have had more juice in his arms than they needed him most.

Pittsburgh failed to do so, either because it fell in love with the pass – which could be Roethlisberger’s notoriously passable act – or because its aging offensive line could no longer do it.

Steelers fans should hope it is the former, as fixing an offensive line on the fly isn’t easy, especially for a team starting 2021 with wage cap issues.

Perhaps this is the wake-up call the coaching team – and yes, Roethlisberger – needs to change their offensive style. Maybe they’ll commit to playing the way Indianapolis did with Philip Rivers, who was considered slutty this season but did a hell of a job managing games, and although they lost to Buffalo on Saturday, he had one of his better outings the 17th game of the season. That’s more than you can say for Roethlisberger, who threw four touchdowns on Sunday, but also threw four brutal picks.

And hey, maybe Pittsburgh is avoiding all of that – doubling down on Ben, reconfiguring its offense, and hoping a once-elite defense gets back in shape seven weeks ago after getting well in 2021. Perhaps the Steelers will move on from their starting quarterback, which is slated for a cap of $ 41 million next season.

I don’t know what they’re going to do, but I know this: The Steelers’ decision-makers – General Managers Kevin Colbert and Tomlin – have some tough questions to ask themselves about what this team should be like.

These are the questions that should have priority in the steel city – not whether something JuJu Smith-Schuster says or does motivates opponents.

If the offensive had been built differently – if the O-Linemen blocked better and the quarterback played better – it might not have finished 22nd in DVOA, and the Steelers would have been good enough to hold the Browns home on Sunday night, wrong interpreted Smith-Schuster-Trash-Talk and everything.

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