Take 5: Steelers need to reevaluate how they do business, Bengals the real deal


AP Photo/Paul Sancya

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow celebrates with fans after the AFC championship NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, in Kansas City, Missouri. The Bengals won 27-24 in overtime.

By The Pitt News Staff

In this week’s Take 5, The Pitt News sports desk takes a look at what the Steelers need to do to replace Ben Roethlisberger, the Cincinnati Bengals’ rise to the top tier of the league and more.

The success of Rams, Buccaneers should serve as blueprint for Steelers // Zack Gibney, Senior Staff Writer

During the last two offseasons, the Rams and Buccaneers had fairly complete rosters aside from one position — quarterback. Both organizations need to fill the most important position on the field, and in both cases, Los Angeles and Tampa Bay broke the bank to fill the position. The Buccaneers signed Tom Brady and effectively gave him the keys to the organization, while the Rams acquired Matthew Stafford from Detroit for a plethora of assets.

The result? The Buccaneers are coming off their second championship in franchise history after years of mediocrity, while the Rams are one win away from hanging a banner of their own. For the Steelers to return to their past success, they need to follow the same model of going all-in on acquiring a quarterback.

Looking within the building for solutions has been the status quo in Pittsburgh for decades, but that needs to stop now. Prior to his pending retirement after the draft, general manager Kevin Colbert needs to acquire a quarterback that can be the long-term answer — because Mason Rudolph is not that guy.

But if the organization’s patterns persist into this offseason, the rest of the NFL will leave the Steelers behind.

The NFL should fear Burrow and the Bengals // Jermaine Sykes, Staff Writer

The Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 24-21 in the AFC championship game on Sunday to advance to the Super Bowl. The Bengals have been on a pretty improbable run, since they’ve gone on the road two weeks in a row and defeated the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the AFC playoffs. Much of their success is due to second-year quarterback Joe Burrow.

The Bengals drafted the Ohio native with the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL draft after a stellar season at LSU. Burrow’s 60 touchdown passes in his senior season at LSU broke the then-record for touchdowns in a season.

After tearing his ACL in his rookie season, Burrow has rebounded mightily. Burrow threw for 34 touchdown passes, and the Bengals won the AFC North for the first time since 2015.

Burrow led his team to the Super Bowl before other fellow phenoms Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert and Deshaun Watson. Burrow and the Bengals won the AFC despite 150-1 odds in the preseason. Teams should have any matchup against the Bengals circled on their calendars for years to come.

It’s time to change how non-conference college football games are scheduled // Nick Aaron, For The Pitt News

Pitt fans watched a thrilling out-of-conference matchup against Tennessee last season. But instead of scheduling home-and-home series nearly a decade into the future, non-conference games should be scheduled at the conclusion of the previous season.

This would mean games between more evenly matched teams. How can a fanbase get fired up for a game that won’t happen for two more presidential terms?

In addition, this would allow time-honored, cross-conference rivals to renew their historic clashes. Many fan bases are treated to historically rich rivalry games with CFP implications every year because their teams are in the same conference.

Games like Michigan-Ohio State, Oklahoma-Texas and Alabama-Auburn come to mind. Should other fans of such rivalries be denied this luxury because the teams aren’t conference opponents?

Yes, scheduling these games closer to the actual date may cause logistical issues and force programs to navigate the complicated TV contracts. But fans, players and media deserve more exciting matchups.

Tom Brady should join the San Francisco 49ers // Brian Sherry, Staff Writer

News sources around the country prematurely reported on Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady’s retirement on Saturday. But no official announcement has come from Brady himself, leaving many to wonder if and where the NFL legend will play next season.

As Brady decides his future, the logical choice for the 44-year-old quarterback may not be retirement or even another season with the Buccaneers.

Brady should return home and join the San Francisco 49ers.

Brady, a Northern California native, grew up idolizing the Joe Montana-led 49ers. During his 2020 free-agency decision, rumors circulated that Brady wished to join the 49ers before signing with the Buccaneers. Returning to where it all began would be a fitting end to Brady’s career.

The move would also make sense for San Francisco. The 49ers upset both the Cowboys and the Packers this postseason, proving that they can still compete at a championship level. With quarterback Jimmy Garopollo’s future in question in the Bay area, the 49ers may turn to free agency to fill their quarterback need — where Brady could be available.

Brady remains tied to the Buccaneers until after the 2022 season, making this scenario dependent on Tampa Bay releasing the aging quarterback.

This year’s Lakers are hard to watch // Will McGlynn, Staff Writer

The NBA season is rapidly approaching the All-Star break and the Los Angeles Lakers have slid below .500 and hold the No. 9 seed in the western conference. The Lakers came into this season with championship aspirations after making a big offseason move to acquire star point guard Russell Westbrook. Westbrook was supposed to help the aging Lakers through the long regular season with his ability to take over games.

But that hasn’t been the case. LeBron James has been playing exceptionally well at the age of 37 — the rest of the Lakers haven’t. Westbrook’s player efficiency rating dropped to 15.8 compared to 19.5 last season, and the media has criticized him for bad turnovers and poor shots.

Westbrook is part of the problem, but the Lakers’ other star, Anthony Davis, hasn’t been exceptional this season either. This season, the injury-prone big man has already missed 20 games and shot just 18% from beyond the arc.

The Lakers have almost no shot at another championship and find themselves at the pinnacle of mediocrity. James is outstanding once again this season, but with an empty bench and struggling co-stars, James finds himself fighting for a playoff spot.