If an individual is particularly grouchy or grumpy in the early portion of the day, we often wonder aloud if they "got up on the wrong side of the bed". Basically, we are acknowledging that the individual is having a bad morning.
Well, guess what folks? The Pittsburgh Steelers got up on the wrong side of the bed this season. The 2022 Steelers are enduring the opposite of a magical season, to the point everything they try to do seems inexplicable backwards, almost the opposite of the Midas touch. Everything they touch turns to...not gold.
The Steelers will rarely attempt to throw a deep pass to one of their receivers matched up in favorable man coverage, but it inevitably always seems to be to the receiver least capable of coming down with a contested catch. Is that bad luck, or is it poor personnel usage? By the way, the Steelers almost never draw pass interference penalties against opposing defenders because they don't attack down the field, and the receivers are not experienced or savvy enough to draw them.
Speaking of utilizing the wrong personnel, the Steelers then turn around and try to run a wide receiver sweep play with a player who possesses the run after the catch ability of a fainting goat. They repeatedly try outside zone running plays with a running back who simply lacks the footspeed to turn the corner.
Sunday night they insisted on trotting out Gunner Olszewski on multiple offensive possessions, which immediately screams running play. Which is funny, because he isn't even a good blocker. It was basically like the Steelers were playing a man short on offense on each snap he was in the game, 10 vs. 11. The Dolphins hardly knew he was there, nor did they seem to care.
The Steelers offense would begin to find a little rhythm on multiple occasions, but inevitably would try an elaborate play with plenty of moving parts that failed miserably, either because it was ill-timed or poorly conceived and executed. How about an extremely slow developing double reverse, or any of the multitude of passes behind the line of scrimmage that we Steelers fans have been subjected to over the past couple seasons.
Speaking of being wrong, the worst decision the Steelers have made this season was naming Mitchell Trubisky the starting quarterback to begin the season. The Steelers lost highly winnable games in the early portion of the season because they had zero offense. Now the Steelers are enduring the toughest stretch of games on the schedule, and they are experiencing the growing pains of a rookie quarterback against some of the better defenses in the league.
The Steelers have so many issues it's almost impossible to identify what their biggest shortcomings truly are. Positional talent, depth, coordinators, leadership at the top, or all of the above. Let's put it this way. How many people truly believe the Steelers have any chance of strutting into the City of Brotherly Love next week and pulling off an upset victory against the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles? Any rational individual would admit no chance. Just like the trip to Buffalo three weeks ago.
Steelers Nation always knew the Steelers had a fighter's chance with Ben Roethlisberger. I don't feel like that any more. Next week is over before it ever begins.
That's the true definition of a rebuilding franchise.
Stock Down: Secondary
I almost titled this section as Missed Opportunities, because that perfectly summed up the Steelers secondary on the night. I have talked at great length about the lack of speed and athleticism up and down the Steelers defensive back depth chart in recent weeks. About how this shortcoming limits the Steelers ability to play man coverages, especially against a collection of track star athletes like the Dolphins have at their disposal.
If you aren't big and tough, you better be fast. If you aren't fast enough, you need to at least be opportunistic. On Sunday night, the Steelers secondary was none of the above. They were hopelessly mismatched against the Dolphins speed on offense, even against the running backs and tight ends. Even when they were in position, they missed multiple tackles on the night. The Dolphins stopped themselves on multiple occasions with dropped passes and a reckless fourth down gamble.
However, the biggest turning points in the game weren't even the turnovers that the Dolphins defense managed to create. It was definitely the missed opportunities of the Steelers secondary. The Steelers dropped four interceptions which went through, or bounced off, both hands of the defenders. Game changing, momentum shifting plays. Two of the drops resulted in made field goals, that's six points for all those keeping score. Remind me, what was the final score again?
The Steelers are a rebuilding franchise at the moment, one who has to fight tooth and nail to compete against the true contending teams on their schedule. The Steelers need some good fortune to remain competitive each week, and they definitely can't afford to let gift interceptions slip through their grasp.
Stock Up: Devin Bush
I am one of Bush's harshest critics, so it is only fair that I acknowledge him when he plays above the line. Bush has stacked solid performances over the past two weeks, and looks more like the swift inside linebacker we witnessed during his rookie season. I am hesitant to praise the fact he seems to be displaying a greater sense of urgency in recent weeks because I fully realize that the sudden increase in intensity is directly linked to 2022 being a contract season. I hope his performances continue to improve throughout the season, and it results in him finding a lucrative second contract after the season, elsewhere.
Stock Down: Pressley Harvin III
Harvin is having a maddeningly inconsistent season. Harvin's performances reminds me of a Skittles slogan; All the colors of the Rainbow. Or Forrest Gump and his box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get. The only thing you can count on with Harvin is at least one shanked kick per game. For a young, rebuilding franchise struggling mightily to remain competitive on both sides of the ball, field position is paramount. Harvin just isn't cutting the mustard. I am definitely not a special teams coach, but it's obvious that Harvin's technique and fundamentals are all over the place. Hence the lack of consistency.
Stock Up: James Pierre
Speaking of stacking solid performances, Pierre has definitely shown he deserves more snaps moving forward. Although apparently few noticed, the Steelers defensive performance improved once Cam Sutton left the game, for whatever reason, and Pierre replaced him. Pierre has been solid all around in back-to-back weeks, both in coverage and in run support, after finally escaping the proverbial doghouse.
Stock Down: Matt Canada
It's beyond obvious that play calling is primarily responsible for the Steelers offensive struggles. The Steelers are simply going through the motions it seems, meaning that the Steelers send players in motion, but accomplish nothing in the process. The motion has little effect on opposing defenses, and reveals little in regards to defensive tendencies because the Steelers offensive repertoire is extremely limited all around. Do the Steelers even have more than a dozen plays in their playbook?
Bottom line: the Steelers knew going into the game that the Dolphins were forced to play multiple special teams performers on defense due to injuries. A quality offensive coordinator exploits those seldom utilized backups, or at the very least forces the Dolphins to make in game adjustments. Matt Canada proved incapable of doing either.
By the way, Calvin Austin III is eligible to come off the IR. Has been for awhile now. Activate him immediately. If Canada doubles down that he doesn't have a clue on how to utilize that young speedster, fire him on the spot. He trotted Gunner Olszewski out there for double digit snaps on offense Sunday night, for Pete's sake.
Stock Up: Steelers Nation
Even with the Steelers mired in a losing season, struggling to remain competitive in the midst of a rebuild, the Steelers faithful were well represented Sunday night in Miami. Those Terrible Towels were a thing of beauty.