With the Monday night game yet to be played in week 2, the Bills, Raiders, Packers, Lions, Browns, Saints, Jets, Titans, Cowboys, Patriots, Falcons and Eagles all managed to outscore the Steelers this week and three other teams managing to match their 24 points. We are in an era in today's NFL where points are easy to come by. The NFL loves high scoring games and many teams are happy to oblige. The Steelers, however, still struggle to put points on the scoreboard. They haven't cracked the top 10 in scoring in Bruce Arians' tenure as Offensive Coordinator despite probably having more talent at skill positions than any other team in the league. To be fair-- the offensive line has been inferior-- but they've known that for some time.
The Steelers played an inferior opponent today. We all knew that going in. Anything less than a dominating win would have been disappointing. The Defense delivered. The offense? Not so much.
At home today against a mediocre Seahawks defense, they were 3 for 6 in scoring TD's in the redzone. They settled for a FG on one of their possessions, missed a FG on another and failed to convert on 4th and goal in their first drive of the game. This is a Steelers team that has had redzone issues in the past few years. They looked confused again at times today and I saw at least a couple broken plays. They've looked disorganized and over-matched last week against the Ravens and in the SB last year.
They also had three "3 and out's" today-- including two in the final quarter when they should have been running out the clock. Again, I am stressing that they played at home against the Seahawks who have a young defense that is anything but imposing. Against any other quality team, and in a hostile stadium, 24 points would not have been enough. They will never be able to beat teams like NE, NO, GB, SD or Philly the way their offense played today. The Steelers are a SB contender. They need to be able to compete with those teams.
Where do their problems lie? They have one of the best QB's in the league who has delivered in clutch situations more often than not. They have a great RB and quality backups. Their TE is probably the most underrated in the league. They have some of the best young WR's in the game and a future HOFer at the position as well. No problems at any of these positions whatsoever.
The offensive line is an issue. They don't protect the QB and they can't control the line of scrimmage. They've been trying to compensate for the offensive line issues for years, without any real answers. Roethlisberger's improvisation and gutsy play has been the primary reason for any success the offense has had.
Their offensive coordinator is an issue. It is time for the coaching to step up and devise some protection schemes and a game plan to compensate for the offensive line and complement the strengths of their team (ie, Roethlisberger's mobility and the speed of the WRs). Bruce Arians is a media darling who never seems to face any real criticism from them-- save for a brief and erroneous report by Ken Laird that he was fired following the 2009 season. Any fan complaints about the offense are met with the absurd notion that just because the team has been to two SB's in his tenure that he is above criticism. The team went to two SB's because their QB and Defense were outstanding. The offense in general was much less a factor.
I am putting the offensive failures squarely on Arians' shoulders. He does not impress me. This team can't score consistently and as the offensive coordinator he has to take the blame. (I saw fewer bubble screens today and actually saw a halfback screen (albeit poorly executed-- or poorly designed?)....so those are both encouraging.) We need to see more, though. We need to see an offense that executes their plays with confidence. We need to see an offense that dictates and tries to confuse the defense-- rather than the other way around. We need to see an offense that puts up points-- just like the rest of the league is doing.
I'm just not so sure that Bruce Arians is the man to deliver that offense.