The Steelers were dealt a blow they weren’t expecting after their first half Sunday night, but this loss to the Chargers really dampens the mood on this season for the Steelers. Now, with the Ravens nipping at their heels, the Steelers have to rebound, win their division, and show their resilience in an attempt to prove they can indeed win a Super Bowl.
Regardless, with a tough loss, here are 6 key takeaways from the tough loss:
Keith Butler is a schematic mess
Why can Keith Butler not dial up coverages? The guy can dial up a blitz anytime he wishes, but he runs far too much cover 3 when his team thrives out of man coverage and cover 2 looks. That is a big, big issue on this defense, because not only does it create openings all game, but it also leaves LBs isolated if the personnel decisions are not good.
That was the case on probably the biggest play of the game, when Keenan Allen somehow got matched up with Jon Bostic, who had barely even played prior to that play.
Biggest play of the game, LJ Fort and Marcus Allen have been great. WHO CARES LETS TAKE THEM OFF THE FIELD FOR JON BOSTIC AND VINCE WILLIAMS. Keith Butler is schematic disaster. He should be fired after this season, I don't care what improvement you've seen. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/iGmrBAafJe— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) December 3, 2018
I will never understand why Bostic was on Keenan Allen, or why LBs not named L.J. Fort were on Keenan Allen 9 times, and he caught every single one of them. Butler has done this in many other games where he just gets caught napping with LBs on great receivers, and it makes no sense.
Butler has done that for years, and if it keeps up, it is time to say goodbye to him.
And you wonder why this team gets owned by the Patriots every year? There you have it.
Death, Taxes, and Special Team Penalties
Speaking of that, I don’t think it would be terrible if Danny Smith joined Butler on the unemployment line. Smith’s STs unit leads the NFL in penalties by the wide margin of 4 penalties to the nearest team. The offside penalties are not an issue, Haden was not even offside, but the blocks in the back, clipping, and holds are huge issues.
Smith has an inconsistent record and shows little to no improvement from year-to-year, and it is time to admit that he just isn’t it. Smith’s units continue to be mediocre at best.
L.J. Fort should be starting
I got a positive for ya. LJ Fort is a beast and should start. You gotta wonder why they somehow dominate the middle of the field once he's off the field. He's the best ILB on the team, and Bostic is the second best. Those are your starters, straight up. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/9fvT0z1ugh— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) December 3, 2018
Why? Here you have it. This guy changes this defense in the middle of the field. There are so many more schematic options with Fort in. He really was everywhere tonight and has been very good in his role since stepping into it, but he deserves to start all night. This guy continues to show why he is still so huge.
When he went off the field, stuff went off the rails, and shockingly, they drove the field. He wasn’t even on the field for the biggest play of the game, and for no reason. Just questionable to leave out the guy who has been balling. L.J. Fort was a rare bright spot tonight, and I thank him for it.
Fire those refs into the sun
I can’t say the Steelers didn’t play bad, and the refs are not the sole reason the home team lost this game, but, yes, they are a big reason. Missing a key block in the back, a false start, Haden not being offside, and a phantom hold on Foster, which killed a drive for the Steelers, this is simply a terrible show by the officials. This crew showed themselves to be incompetent, and the Steelers should have walked away with a ‘W’ if it were not for them.
I don’t usually blame officiating, but they were such a big proponent in this game, you have to point it out. Now, the Steelers have to bounce back, and I gotta say, I think they will...but their home stretch is anything but easy.
Ben Roethlisberger is a blessing and a curse
This is the second biggest missed opportunity. Instead of a Boz FG, it should have been a TD to Hunter, but Ben somehow missed him. Team lives and dies by the guy, crazy miss. #Steelers pic.twitter.com/por1wSj7h9— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) December 3, 2018
I think we need to evaluate Big Ben Roethlisberger a bit here. Schematic issues are the biggest issues on defense, but do you need to know what the issue is on offense? It really isn’t that hard — it is Big Ben. The lack of a consistent WR3 is a bigger issue than people think, but the lack of consistency in the QB position is what kills this team. They cannot deal with all of these dumb INTs and turnovers.
Ben has to reel in this gunslinger mentality, let the game come to him, and quite honestly, just make the smarter read. The INT and the Hunter overthrow are two of the key things I keep coming back to when I say why we lost this game. Ben simply cannot let this stuff happen anymore. The team lives and dies by him, and he has to be the guider not the inhibitor.
This team is their own worst enemy
This is one of the worst plays I have ever seen. Haden picks this off and the #Steelers win, I guarantee that. What a terrible play by Sean Davis, who has been good this year, but chose to be doo doo right there. Turning point of the game right there. pic.twitter.com/AANw4tkO3G— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) December 3, 2018
That sums up the Steelers pretty well. The past three weeks, this Steelers team has found ways to try to lose games, and two of them they have lost. They should have won this week and last week, and frankly, this game isn’t that dissimilar from that Denver game. Just so many blown opportunities, and the Haden INT is the peak of that. The Steelers had a shot to really make a statement and they just didn’t do it here, at all. They need to go and just play sound football next week. Oakland has been their kryptonite, but they have to win that game. If they win that game, it is time to make a statement. Nothing will do that more than knocking off Tom Brady.
Also, no, the Steelers will not miss the playoffs. They will make it, the real question is if they can do anything once getting in.