"What if the main Steeler issues are more coaching related than player injury or player mistakes related?"
I may get killed for this post by Steeler fanatics, but if we strip away the emotional side to the argument and look at it logically, there might be a larger, more troubling aspect to our recent troubles the past 2 seasons.
Mike Tomlin is a great motivator. He has an uncanny ability to focus everyone on playing team first football in a league of selfish me-first stars. He may also be a great talent identifier and a good player skill builder. But could the recent issues be judgment and coaching errors on his part more than player miscues or player injuries crippling the whole system?
Here are the issues I have with Coach Tomlin and the Coaching Staff:
- Lack of second half adjustments. There just doesn't seem to be any significant adjustments made at the half in any of the past 2 years worth of games. Going into the no-huddle is something that is worked on during practice each week. That is not a big adjustment. It's not just Tomlin either-- LeBeau doesn't seem to make defensive adjustments and neither does Arians. For example-- The first half, Brady was throwing 4 yard passes and our receivers were giving 10 yard cushions.... the second half... more of the same. No press coverage and little man to man except in the very final minutes. On the offensive side, both the left and right sides were getting crushed by speed pass rushers, how many times did we adjust to the blitz by going with delayed hand-offs or running back screens? It just wasn't called.
- Our talent isn't used in a manner to maximize success. This many need several points to emphasize. The Steelers, in my opinion, have the greatest pass rushers in the league. If this is the case, will someone explain why we have Harrison dropping back in coverage more than he is pass rushing? The same for Timmons. I recognize you have to cover receivers with bodies... but when you have a pass rushing tandem of Harrison and Woodley... have them get into the edge contain or rush the qb like they need to. Am I the only one who is wondering why a short and bulky Harrison is left covering a speedy slot receiver? You give all day to Brady.. or even a guy like Colt McCoy.. and they will pick you apart. You can't cover receivers for any more than 5 seconds. In the interview yesterday, Troy Polamalu admitted his job wasn't to run around and make free-style anymore....but rather more scheme structured. He is a Pro-Bowl player because he is a free style Safety... not because he is a system guy. Then... we end up sending him on blitzes.. and he is arguably our 2nd best cover guy in the secondary. That doesn't make any sense.
- Lack of Pass Defense problem correction. The weakest link in the Steeler armor is definitely our pass defense. We basically have one good corner and a bunch of below average corners. You can tell the below average corners without looking at their numbers because they play 10 yards off the receiver. It seems like our only plan is to give up the small passes and just pray for a mental mistake by the opposing quarterback. Hence, it's death by 1,000 cuts for the Steelers. Gay is just brutally bad as a cover corner.. better in the nickle spot... but still bad. It seems like he might be a better safety than a corner because of his aggressive hits and big play knack when he has help underneath. Can we not jam these wide receivers at the line.. trimming off a few seconds from having to cover these wideouts... disrupt their timing..and give the pass rushers more time to reach the quarterback? Then we go into the prevent defense and we get lit up like a joint at a phish concert every time.
- Poor game time decision making. Coach Tomlin has made more than his fair share of blunders and many have cost us the game. Whether it's attempting a 50+ yard field goal in New Orleans before the half, or trying to pound it in the end zone up the middle all three times, eventually he needs to take some responsibility for a few bad judgment calls. As a Tomlin fan, he is our coach and our fearless leader. But, at what point do we start to make him accountable for Red Zone difficulties, overly aggressive offensive play calling, or giving up too easily on Steeler football... running the ball... all three of our losses this year?
It's easy to make excuses when they are readily available. Our offensive line is decimated, Aaron Smith is out again, Big Ben didn't even play for the first three games, etc. But at what point do we stop looking for excuses and start making the coaches accountable for better play calling and better adjustments?
Food for thought.