Let's start with the good. I think we can all use some good, can't we? Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere (why would you be reading elsewhere?) the Steelers have not abandoned the outside zone. Instead, the Steelers have shown the ability to run the play multiple ways. Also, the Steelers seem to have been waiting for the return of Heath Miller to unveil their latest tweak to the outside zone scheme.
The Steelers tried to run this play earlier in the game, and Heath Miller missed Lance Briggs. However, it did not take long for Miller to get back to game speed. Right guard David DeCastro looks great on this play eliminating the safety. Dwyer looks good on this play also. He attacks the line of scrimmage. Also, David Johnson does a great job securing the edge on this play also.
Look for the Steelers to run this play more with fullback Will Johnson. Johnson could do the job of Heath Miller and lead on the Mike linebacker, or he could replace DeCastro and block the Force. The reason why it is important to incorporate Johnson is because of the possibilities for play action it creates. However, even running it from a one back look, the Steelers still have the opportunity to throw play action. Hopefully, we will see some examples in London. The Steelers are at their best when they can throw play action.
Since we just saw a great example of DeCastro blocking a safety coming down into the box, let's point out the just plain bad.
In the comments of last week's article, someone mentioned what a poor job Jerricho Cotchery did on the critical 3rd and short play against Cincinnati. Well, if Cotchery's attempt was poor, I don't even know how to categorize this attempt by Emmanuel Sanders.
For the NFL's next symposium on concussion awareness, they might want to say something about wide receivers blocking safeties while the running back is a sitting duck. If the NFL wants to legislate all kind of stuff out of the game in order to promote player safety why is Sanders not fined? Why are quarterbacks that throw the ball late over the middle fined?
Moving onto the unlucky.
This play serves as a microcosm of what ails (and has been ailing) the Steelers. It is hard to win in the NFL.
Sometimes, because there are so many great athletes on the field, the other guys make a play. That is what Jay Cutler did here. He probably won't make a play like that the rest of the year. But, that is not the important point. The important thing is that those plays are magnified against the Steelers because we have to do everything the hard way. Our lack of big plays on offense (thankfully, we saw some improvement in this area last week) and the lack of turnovers created by the defense mean that we are always grinding out wins. Because we don't have the luxury of capitalizing on other team's mistakes, we have to earn everything. And, that is hard to do, because eventually the other guys are going to make plays.
In this regard, I've always had a slight disagreement with Mike Tomlin. Style points do matter in this respect. The Steelers are not talented enough (I don't think anyone is) to beat other teams by consistently grinding out victories.
The Steelers need big plays both offensively and defensively, and they need them now.
Oh, and if someone could tell Emmanuel Sanders to please block someone, anyone, that would be nice too.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Steelers Film Room: The good, bad and unlucky from loss to Bears
- Injury Report: Vikings will wait on deciding starting QB
- Steelers vs. Vikings: Redman likely the odd man out
- Antonio Brown fined
- Antonio Brown fined
- Ryan Clark would retire before playing for a London-based team
- A Chris Rainey sighting
- Bell felt rusty last week, ready to go vs. Vikings
- Ben to offensive line: 'Be tough, be nasty'
- Cutler earned respect by not sliding
- 5 Burning Questions