The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Sunday when they played the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16 of regular season action. The Steelers were losers in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had a good or bad performance.
Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left a lot to be desired can be called ‘Losers’. It may sound harsh, but it is the crux of this exercise.
Let’s check in to see who fell on which side of the ledger after the latest game...
For the first time that I’ve been writing this article I couldn’t put anyone in the winners list. No one deserved to be in this column. Not a coach, not a player and not even a position group. The closest I could come to a winner in this game was CBS, who went away from the hideous game, but they came back to it...so they don’t deserve a ‘Winner’ tag either.
(Note: I realize I could easily put at least 22 players on this list, but for the sake of everyone’s sanity I’ve minimized the list to these eight.)
Stat Line: Ineptitude Abounds
I am not one to blame the coaching staff for issues on the field. Sure, there are moments where things like time management and challenges can impact the game, but the players just look unbelievably unprepared. The slow offensive starts, the defensive let downs and an overwhelming feeling of players who aren’t just not good enough, but are also not prepared to play. I am no Mike Tomlin hater, but I am really starting to sour on this coaching staff, and it starts at the top and trickles down. I know the Steelers won’t fire Tomlin this offseason, but I wouldn’t be upset if both coordinators are replaced next season. Can it get worse?
Stat Line: Don’t let the stats fool you
When you look at the overall offensive statistics, especially for individual players, it looks like the offensive line did their job. Don’t let those numbers fool you, the only time this group did anything positive was when the Chiefs decided to take their foot off the gas. Want to know the main issue with the Steelers’ offense? It starts, and likely ends, with the offensive line.
Stat Line: -3 Turnover Differential
If you are honest about this Steelers team, there is only one way they win games. They have to win the turnover battle. The Steelers might have gotten away with a game or two earlier in the season where they were able to win while losing the turnover battle, but that isn’t happening now. Look at Week 15 as the perfect example. If the Steelers don’t get those four takeaways, do they beat the Tennessee Titans? Absolutely not. If they aren’t getting those extra possessions and short fields for the offense, it is game over.
Stat Line: Ask Terrell Edmunds
I’m honestly sick of writing about the Steelers’ tackling, but it remains an issue. No, it wasn’t as glaring as the performance against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 6, but there were key moments where missed tackles cost the team touchdowns. The complete whiff by Terrell Edmunds on the sideline was Exhibit A, and Robert Spillane’s inability to wrap up Clyde Edwards-Helaire on the opening drive score for the Chiefs is Exhibit B. Not suggesting the Steelers would have kept Kansas City out of the end zone on either occasion, but the basic fundamental of tackling is an issue.
Stat Line: 2 sacks, 3 QB Hits
To beat a quarterback like Patrick Mahomes, just like when the Steelers used to constantly get torched by Tom Brady, you have to get pressure without blitzing. The Steelers tried, but failed miserably. You can tell T.J. Watt is dealing with that rib injury, and the Chiefs took him out of the game completely when he was on the field. It then turns to someone else to make the plays, and they couldn’t. At least not on any consistent level.
Time of Possession
Stat Line: PIT - 25:18 / KC - 34:42
For the second straight week the Steelers were dominated in the Time of Possession category. What might have been the biggest issue were the one-play drives where the defense, after getting off the field, was thrust right back onto the playing field after a killer turnover. The Chiefs looked like they were just toying with the Steelers, and that simple fact should make fans sick to their stomachs.
3rd Down Offense
Stat Line: 5-for-13
Another week where the Steelers failed to win on those conversion plays which help in Time of Possession and allowing your defense to rest.
Stat Line: Not out of it yet, and that’s a bad thing
Hope still abounds for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and you have to wonder if that hope is nothing but smoke and mirrors. If the Steelers win their next two games, and get some help from teams like the Los Angeles Rams and the Chiefs, they could very well be in the AFC Playoffs as a Wild Card team. There is a large part of the fan base which feels like this team is Old Yeller and the they just need put out of their misery. I can’t blame fans for feeling that way...
If you want a more detailed look at the above list, check out my “Let’s Ride” podcast where I outline each Winner and Loser, and MORE!