Dunlap: ride the Spillane Train


Sports fans are panicking. What else is new?

Pittsburgh fans are panicking. Yeah, haven’t heard that one before. This is where you would put the eyeroll emoji if you were texting the previous sentence to someone.

Steelers fans are unnerved and perhaps want to rush into an irrational decision. That’s uncommon, right?

I can’t believe --- as a former worrier and someone who subscribed to every knee-jerk reaction imaginable --- that I have turned into this guy, but I have. Yeah, this is me now. I’m the take-a-deep-breath guy.

The relax guy.

The glass-half-full guy.

The no-need-to-do-something-in-haste kind of guy.

Been a long (and not always easy) transformation but I’m there. I’m here. I’m anew and afresh with positivity.

The latest installment comes in the form of looking at this Devin Bush injury and hearing all the noise about the Steelers needing to make a trade. To be frank, I’m not buying it. I’m not even considering it for one millisecond.

See, this isn’t a place where I’m going to try to sell you on the fact that Robert Spillane has the same ceiling as Bush. That won’t happen because it simply isn’t true. I mean, the Steelers went to the lengths they did to draft Bush for a reason. And, conversely, Spillane is an undrafted guy from a school in Kalamazoo for a reason.

But listen to this: I watched Spillane against the Browns as he was pressed into duty when Bush went down and I watched him earlier this season against the Giants when he got more snaps than probably any of us anticipated and I have a simple question for you: If you didn’t know he was a backup, would he have stood out as such?

If you clicked on the television and knew nothing of the Steelers’ personnel when Spillane was in the game this past Sunday against the Browns and you were told to hyper-focus in on No. 41, what would your takeaway have been? 
Know what is crazy? My takeaway would have been that he was one of the best players on the defense and not a guy who had to scratch for a roster spot and only got inserted into the game when the guy in front of him sustained a debilitating injury.

That’s the truth on this end. When Spillane has been in the game, he has been far from a liability. When Spillane has been in the game, he has fit in just fine.

What would give anyone an indication that will be different against Tennessee?

So it is, with the Steelers on the cusp of their most important game to date --- and playing the best team they have faced, by far --- and plenty in the fan base are blaring for general manager Kevin Colbert to make a trade and bring in someone with a deeper pedigree.

Why? So it would take him a month to learn the system after hopefully passing all the COVID protocols and then, again hopefully, contribute to a level beyond what Spillane can for what certainly will be a much bigger sum than the man currently employed.

I can agree there is some merit to making a trade. You always want to be as good as possible and add where you can.

But I keep coming back to this: When Robert Spillane has played in games, does anything look broken? Until that time comes that he proves things need fixin’, I keep marching him back out there.  ​