The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars at home, and embarrassing is the best way to describe it. Forget Ben Roethlisberger’s horrendous numbers, forget about the rush defense and forget about the coaching staff.
I’m a solutions-based person, so rather than gripe and moan about something, I’d like to try and find some changes which could help the team improve heading into Week 6. Yes, believe it or not, the Steelers actually have 11 more games...hard to believe, right?
The below changes are not drastic, “fire the coach” style changes, so if you’re looking for those, you can just navigate back to another article.
5 changes the Steelers can make heading into Week 6
- Time to give James Harrison a helmet
James Harrison has been a game-day inactive for the past two weeks. The first was due to an illness, but this week it was a coaching decision. This isn’t about T.J. Watt, but more about getting someone in the lineup who can step in on occasion and stop the run. Harrison can do that and also rush the passer. Let’s not forget just how well Harrison played at Arrowhead Stadium in the AFC Divisional round of the playoffs last year. Time to unleash Deebo.
- Develop an identity on offense
Enough of this week-in and week-out offense. You know, the Le’Veon Bell gets 35 rushes in Week 4, and only 15 carries in Week 5. Are you a running team, or are you a passing team (I would suggest the latter)? To be successful in the NFL you have to be able to do both, but this offense looks like a jumbled wreck. If this offensive line is as good as everyone thinks, they should thrive on getting off their blocks and dominating the opposition. Find your identity, and run with it — figuratively and literally.
- Never too high, never too low
This football team is in the hands of an emotional leader. Mike Tomlin is as emotional as the players on the field making plays, and this can be both a blessing and a curse. Players love to play for the coach who slams his chest and points at cameras, but at the same time they live or die by that as well. After wins it’s the best of times, almost breeding a sense of hubris among the group, but after losses it’s the worst of times, almost fostering a sense of insecurity. Either way, as a former coach myself, I always preached ‘Never too high, and never too low’. No, I didn’t coach in the NFL, but it still applies. You make a big play, celebrate, but remember the situation and the rest of the game. If you lose a tough game, you still have to be able to refocus and prepare for the next opponent. More of an even-keel approach to the game would help this team immensely.
- Time to go no-huddle
If I recall, it was the 2013 season when the Pittsburgh Steelers offense was struggling so much they decided to run a no-huddle style offense to get out of their funk — and it worked. The team started to move the football, and their “muddle huddle” became their go-to base offense unless they were holding a lead and trying to burn up as much clock as possible. Doing so not only helped maximize their offensive matchups, but it also gave more play-calling duties to Ben Roethlisberger. After Sunday’s outing, some might not be interested in hearing about that, but Roethlisberger is still an intelligent quarterback. If he can start calling successful plays, it’ll help the offense function in all facets. It can’t get any worse, right?
- Check egos at the door
There are myriad offensive weapons at the Steelers’ disposal, and the team cannot succeed if players are going to complain about not getting the football enough. Antonio Brown, who always gets his touches, will have to live with the thought of him not setting NFL records, as long as it means the team is winning. Likewise, if Le’Veon Bell isn’t featured as an every-down back, but instead James Conner is inserted into the lineup as a change of pace, as long as the team wins, that has to be okay. For the first time in his career, Ben Roethlisberger honestly seems as if he doesn’t care about his stats, as long as the team comes out on top. The younger play-makers on the team should follow his lead, because you can have all the stats in the world, but it doesn’t beat getting a Super Bowl ring. I’m sure if you ask any member of the team who owns one, or two, they’d echo this sentiment. Football is the ultimate team game, and it’s time this group started playing as such.