Following their 23-17 loss to the Washington Football Team at Heinz Field on Monday night, I think we can all finally admit it: The Pittsburgh Steelers are in a funk.
It was easy to ignore the funk as the wins kept mounting over the course of Pittsburgh’s first 11 games and the losses never came. It was easy to throw your hand in the face of anyone eager to tell you the Steelers were overrated and insist that they talk to it. It may have been a prideful move to Twitter-block the likes of Colin Cowherd, a long-time Steelers critic, when he said they weren’t in the same league as the Chiefs.
But we can no longer ignore the fact that something just isn’t right with the Steelers.
Now, don’t get it twisted. I’m not saying the Steelers aren’t good. I’m not saying they’re overrated. I’m not saying they can’t go on a long playoff run, nor am I stating they lack the necessary talent to do so. All I’m saying is they’re in a funk, a rut, a slump. They’re at the point in the movie where Pop Fisher is asking them if maybe they should try a different bat.
Winning masks a lot of concerns, because if a team keeps doing that, it’s easy to justify certain things and just convince yourself that all your moves must be the correct ones.
But we can’t say that anymore. Not only did the Steelers lose to a 4-7 Washington Football Team on Monday, but their funk-inducing flaws just kept on rearing their ugly heads the entire night.
There were those drops—seven more, I believe. Did you know the Steelers’ receivers now lead the NFL in drops? Or is it the AFC? Or am I just talking about drop percentage? Anyway, I suppose it doesn’t matter when you’re analyzing an offense that has shown its hand all season and has made it clear that the short-passing game will be its bread and butter.
How about that ground game, or lack thereof? The Steelers, behind Benny Snell Jr. and rookie Anthony McFarland, both of whom were filling in for the COVID compromised James Conner at running back, rushed for just 21 yards on 14 carries. I mean, I know I said the running game wasn’t going to be the hill that Pittsburgh died on in 2020, but that’s utterly ridiculous.
And don’t even get me started on the team’s inability to gain a single yard on five plays from the one.
As for the predictability of coordinator Randy Fichtner’s offense. I heard it from the Washington Football Team, who apparently were privy to some important information that a little birdie told them—the Ravens.
The offense isn’t the only unit at fault for this funk, however. The defense deserves some blame, too, or at least the injuries that keep mounting on that side of the ball. Just days after Bud Dupree joined Devin Bush on the ACL list, both Robert Spillane (knee) and Joe Haden (concussion) were added to the pile.
The Steelers, 11-1 as they may be, have some serious problems right now. Funks aren’t anything new for good football teams. The question is, will Pittsburgh be able to get out of this current rut before January football commences?
That will be the key.
And before you even mention it (I know you’ll mention it, but I just wanted to write it out before you do), we’re way too deep into the season to be talking about firing this coach or cutting that player. This is about accepting that the Steelers have some issues to work through and the ones within the organization who must do that aren’t going anywhere.
The Steelers are still in excellent shape record-wise as they head into the final quarter of the 2020 campaign. Given that Washington resides in the NFC, Pittsburgh obviously remains unblemished in conference play, which means it still has the upper hand on the Chiefs for the top seed and lone bye in the AFC.
Win out, that’s all the black and gold have to do. They managed to win 11-straight, so a four-game-streak should be child’s play by comparison.
The answers aren’t going to come from Cowherd or all the folks on social media whose favorite pastime seems to be trolling Steelers fans, these days. The answers will have to come from the South Side of Pittsburgh.
Righting the ship in time for January is all that matters. You don’t have to convince me that the Steelers are a good football team—11-1 is 11-1—but they clearly are suffering from some sort of illness at the moment (I know, bad example), and they must find the cure before it’s too late to save their season.