FanPost

Good enough vs. Great

One thing that has bothered me a lot as a Steelers fan over the years is the team's contentment with superficial success.  The team is unwilling to take risks and identify and preemptively fix problems when things are going fairly well.  How many times have we heard people excuse the OL because "Parker was leading the league in rushing when he got injured"?  It doesn't matter what the stat sheet says, we couldn't run the ball when we needed to, and Ben's sacks/drop back were out of hand.  I'm all for encouraging mediocre players to get the most out of them, but saying they're better than they seem should not be confused with them actually being good players.  People credit Arians with a successful offense because Ben's stats are good, even if we couldn't move the ball consistently and Arians was awful at making adjustments.  If you watched the games last year, it was easy to see that he's not a very good offensive coordinator.  All the team's faults got a pass last year "because Tomlin won the division and made the playoffs in his first year".  We had one of the easiest schedules in the NFL last year, and hit many teams at their lowest points.  We padded our stats and record against the Bills and 49ers, and ignored losses to bad teams like the Jets, Broncos, and Cardinals. 

Now this year, we play a great all-around opener (even Arians) and then win a tough but badly played divisional game, and people have already started making excuses for the offense.  We couldn't move the ball on the ground before the 4th quarter, and Ben had big pressure whenever the Browns brought a blitz.  Ben still got sacked on 5 of 39 attempts, which isn't any better than last year.  We didn't spread the ball around, we didn't get the TE's or the RB's (aka "all the weapons" we have so we don't need a good OL) involved in the passing game, and we started running the clock out in the 3rd quarter.  We're lucky the Browns made some key mistakes at the end, or we could be 1-2. 

This week we played an identical game against a good (albeit incomplete) defense with a great coordinator, and we looked beyond terrible.  We made no adjustments from the Browns game, because, hey, we won.  The encouraging news about the Eagles game is that since we lost in such horrendous fashion, we'll have to face up to the fact that Arians and the OL suck, Ben needs to do better with hot reads, and we need to have some plan in place to deal with big blitzes.  Johnson did us a huge favor by running the same blitzes over and over instead of just at key moments.  If we had just been beat on a few blitzes, like the Browns game, we could have ignored the fact that we have no answer for it.  Now we HAVE to deal with it.  Part of me hopes that we play so poorly on offense against Baltimore that Tomlin fires Arians on the spot.  If we play okay for the rest of the season and lose in the first round of the playoffs, my fear is that we'll still have Arians next year because "he helped us get to the playoffs, so he must be doing something right." 

On the other side, I can't complain about the defense.  Everyone is playing pretty well except Foote.  I also hope that a great defense doesn't cover up the deficiencies on the offense - like if we had somehow beaten Philly on a couple turnover FG's or something. 

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