“What was that?”
If you watched the Cincinnati Bengals dismantle the Pittsburgh Steelers 41-10 on Sunday, you likely asked that same question when the game clock finally blazed all zeroes.
Putting a finger on just one thing which plagues this 2021 Steelers team heading into Week 13 is anything but easy. Why? Because it isn’t just one thing which is hindering the Steelers. The issues are many, and none of them are simple fixes.
After the game players and coaches all took their turns answering questions about the game, but no one had any genuine answers or solutions for helping this team right the ship.
Mike Tomlin after the game:
“Not a lot to say. Tip our caps to those guys. They played today and won, and did the things that were required of a big game like this, and we didn’t to be quite honest with you. We didn’t play nearly well enough in any of the phases, and — significantly I thought — we got beat up-front on both sides of the ball, and they won the line of scrimmage. When you win the line of scrimmage the game has a chance to look like that. So, we’ve got a lot of work in front of us. We make no excuses. We seek no comfort. It is what it is, man. We stunk it up today.”
Ben Roethlisberger chimes in:
“It wasn’t pretty, and not anything we’re proud of. You never want to have that feeling coming out of a game. We put it on tape; now we have to own it and move forward. We have to stop this before it continues to unravel.”
Cam Heyward on what was wrong with the defense:
“We did not play well. Hats off to them, the Bengals did their job. They went 2-0 against us in the regular season. You can’t say anything more. They executed a lot better, and won the turnover battle and the rushing battle. When you stack all those things together, it’s how you get a win like that.”
I could continue to throw out quote after quote form Steelers players who all said essentially the same thing. That being, “We got our butts kicked.” They aren’t wrong, but it also goes to show these players can’t pinpoint just one area where the team needs to improve.
During Monday’s media sessions Minkah Fitzpatrick answered questions like his teammates did on Sunday. He at least tried to offer some type of solution on what the team could do to improve their game. His idea was to potential ramp up practice reps and walk-throughs.
This per Dale Lolley of DKPittsburghSports:
Minkah Fitzpatrick: "Everybody knows this isn't our normal standard." He said he will suggest getting more practice reps and faster practice reps in the walk throughs as a way to try to turn things around.— Dale Lolley (@dlolley_pgh) November 29, 2021
It’s a good idea, but if you believe going faster in practice/walk-throughs will make a huge difference then you must know something I don’t. While it’s an idea, the issues which are hurting this team don’t have easy, or quick, fixes.
This defense can’t tackle to save its own life at times.
Think that can be addressed and fixed quickly? Not only has this bean a season-long issue, but the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) hinders how many practices coaches can have with pads on.
The offensive line is struggling to open up running lanes.
Do you think moving Chuks Okorafor to left tackle and inserting Zach Banner at right tackle is the cure-all for the line? Maybe, but I highly doubt it. This offensive line hasn’t been the same since Kevin Dotson was placed on Injured Reserve (IR) due to a high ankle sprain.
The depth on this roster, from top to bottom, is atrocious.
This is a situation where it was bad to begin with, and the salary cap dropping made matters even worse. In a typical year where the Steelers could have possibly retained a player like Mike Hilton, or Steven Nelson, their hands were tied and had to make the tough decisions.
I could go on, but I’d be beating a dead horse repeatedly. What matters most at this point is for fans to realize there is no quick turn around for this team. That is, unless the players who are currently on the roster, and have starting positions, start to go out and execute at a higher level.
When you look at this team from a global perspective, everything is bad. The coaching staff, mainly an offensive staff which was completely rebuilt this offseason, has been failing as miserably as the players on the field. Will their be turnover at season’s end? Don’t bank on it. The Steelers just don’t roll that way.
From top to bottom this team is failing. There is no way around it, and barring the triumphant returns of some players, like Dotson off IR and Stephon Tuitt, the product you see is likely the product fans will get. Does this mean every week will be a 41-10 trouncing? No, but it certainly means the team will have to play a near perfect game to come out victorious. That’s a tough ask for any team, let alone one as fragile as the Steelers.
I’m an eternal optimist when it comes to the Steelers, but when you read the writing on the wall, what you see it isn’t pretty. Change is necessary. A fix is needed. But neither a fix or change will be quick and easy. This process is going to play itself out for all to see, and it could get ugly.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13 of the regular season.