When you are 7-2, sitting at the top of both your division and conference, there is little to be upset about, pick at, or even find fault in. You can find the silver lining and happily move on like many do. Why get upset when the apple cart isn’t toppled over?
Five of your last seven games are at home.
Of those, two are division games against 0-9 Cleveland and 4-5 Baltimore, both who you have beaten.
You don’t have to face Aaron Rogers, or another Christmas gift with DeShaun Watson out for the year when you visit Houston on December 25th.
Despite losing Joe Haden and Mike Mitchell, to injury, you got Stephon Tuitt back, who provided a splash play or two while helping to anchor the run defense that needed him in a bad way.
Yes, there is a lot of positives to seek out when looking at this 7-2 version of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Too bad there is that giant elephant hanging around to bring things down. And I’m not talking about an actual elephant.
It has become quite clear that despite all the great players this team possess on offense, for some reason they just can’t get the motor going on offense for nine games now.
Not once has this team come close to putting together an offensive show. Sure they had seven scoring drives against Minnesota. Five sadly ended with field goals.
They have just one game where they scored more than two touchdowns and that came at Baltimore in week four, more than a month ago.
The offense has yet to crack the 30 point barrier, netting 29 in a week seven win at home against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Sunday marked a season low for first half yards, when the Steelers netted just 92 in 30 minutes of play. This is a team that features Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, a rookie making big plays in JuJu Smith-Shuster and of course their Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
The numbers, or lack of them, produced this season are absurd given the talent, time together, and in the same system. Certainly as a group, there has to be some sort of blame placed on their performance.
But at what point does the man in charge of this system start to take responsibility for the failures mentioned above?
Let’s be clear, Todd Haley, who is in his sixth season as Steelers offensive coordinator, isn’t going anywhere. It’s very fashionable to lay blame on a coach when things go wrong. You can’t fire the players they say, so somebody has to be held accountable.
Haley’s ties to the organization are well documented. His father Dick Haley was a player for the team in the early 1960’s, later joining them as a scout. He played a role in the club’s rise to glory as Director of Player Personnel from 1971-1990, playing a major part in the four Super Bowl wins.
His son was a ball-boy, hanging around his father during that time. He watched film, learning the game at the foot of his dad and a coaching staff that was at it’s best during that amazing run. Todd Haley never played the game, but he was very much a football guy.
Or at least that’s the story being told.
In 89 games as Steelers OC, his command of the forces has led to 24 games where the team has registered 30 points or more. That’s 27% of the games played. Granted, the black-n-gold is 19-5 in those contests.
Simply put, that’s not good enough.
And Haley should know that.
That’s why getting this offense to start humming along is so important.
What he does to fix this remains to be seen. Having a 7-2 record helps matters in terms of deflecting the issues this offense has faced, but, at some point, you are going to need to outgun an opponent or two that’s capable of putting 30 plus points on the board.
You know, like the New England Patriots do on what seems to be a regular basis.
As it stands right now, and as I said before the start of the season, winning the AFC means beating Bill Belichick, who has basically owned the Steelers since taking over as the Patriots head coach.
Oh and the GOAT, lest we forget about that Tom Brady guy.
Yes there are four games before that big showdown at Heinz Field on December 17th, starting with this Thursday’s matchup in prime time against the Tennessee Titans.
Todd Haley better get the this offense in order, and fast. If they cannot achieve the necessary production with the weapons they possess. If this team continues to fall short of that magical 30-point barrier they were supposed to hit each game they’ve played this season, there can only be one man who shoulders that responsibility.
Nothing less than a Super Bowl appearance is acceptable at this point, and if the Steelers can’t count on an offense to execute when needed, and don’t hit the mark I just mentioned, the blame falls on one man.
It’s time for Haley to put up or shut up. The next seven weeks will tell that tale. And everybody will be watching.