The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves with an interesting dilemma Sunday.
They are nine-point favorites over the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are the worst team in the league against the run and the best against the pass.
So it figures their game plan would feature Le’Veon Bell, who finally got into a groove last week against Baltimore when he ran 35 times for 144 yards and caught four passes for 42 yards.
But things are complicated because it is also the first game since Antonio Brown had a temper tantrum last week when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t throw to him when he felt he was wide open.
Brown flipped over a Gatorade bucket and angrily brushed off offensive coordinator Todd Haley.
The Steelers were in damage control mode this week.
Brown tweeted, “Apologize for all the noise and distractions Steeler nation, let’s stay focus[ed]. #Pushfor7.’’
Vince Williams posted a tweet featuring Brown making light of the situation as he pushed away a Gatorade bucket in the locker room.
Cam Heyward joked that it wasn’t like he pulled a Bobby Knight.
“He got mad one play, so what?’’ Heyward told ESPN . “He’s not Bob Knight. He’s not throwing a chair on the court, saying this and that, cursing out everybody. It’s sports. You’re supposed to be competitive. You’re supposed to be mad sometimes.’’
Roethlisberger said he feels it is up to him to keep players accountable.
“I’d like to feel as a leader of this team, that’s kind of my job,’’ he said. “You have to be able to talk to people. I’ve been doing this a long time.’’
He said he prefers Brown talk to him about missed plays.
“I’m sure,” Roethlisberger said when he was asked if Brown got the message. “He’s a professional,’’ he said. “He’s probably the best wide receivers in the game now, maybe to ever play.”
Sounds like Roethlisberger is trying to stroke Brown’s ego. He’s not Jerry Rice or Don Hutson. Maybe not even Lynn Swann or John Stallworth.
Not that it’s unusual for a wide receiver to be a diva. Brown doesn’t want to become another Terrell Owens.
Swann and Stallworth competed against each other for catches and it helped get them both in the Hall of Fame.
They didn’t throw tantrums, but they made it obvious they wanted the ball.
Back in the 1070s when Swann had a big game, Bradshaw said he targeted him because Swann had been down because he hadn’t been getting a lot of catches.
All this brings us to the Steelers’ game Sunday against the Jaguars.
Will Roethlisberger target Brown? Can Jaguars’ corners Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye cover Brown? Will the Steelers feature Bell? Will the Jaguars do better against the run? They were burned by the New York Jets because players were getting out of their gaps. That’s something coaches should be able to fix.