The Pittsburgh Steelers are getting some quality rest and relaxation this week, with their Week 9 bye, and while the team might be off, it doesn’t mean they couldn’t still improve.
Even with a 6-2 record, there is still plenty of room for improvement as they try and make a stretch run for the AFC North crown, top seed in the AFC and a 7th Super Bowl crown.
I broke it down into four ways I feel the team can improve, even on their week off:
1. Ben Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger’s play has improved, but it ultimately leaves a lot to be desired. Roethlisberger could take the extra week to not just get some rest, but to work on his timing, accuracy and trust with his receivers. Roethlisberger is a quarterback who if he doesn’t trust you, he won’t throw you the ball. There is a reason he always focuses on Antonio Brown — he knows exactly what Brown is going to be doing. He trusts him. The bye week is a great time to improve these skills with players like Eli Rogers, Martavis Bryant and even JuJu Smith-Schuster.
The NFL has turned into a non-tackling league outside of games, and I understand why, but this improvement could happen in the film room. The Steelers’ tackling has been streaky, at best, this year, and a lot of it has to do with poor angles and general assignments being missed. The team defense hitting the film, and learning from their mistakes, could be a large part of their tackling successes, or failures.
The Steelers’ offense has received plenty of ink regarding their red-zone issues, and rightfully so, but before Week 7 the team defense also struggled in the red area. The coaching staff can use the extra week of planning to really diagnose what personnel groupings, formations, and plays are successful in specific situations in the red-zone, both offensively and defensively, to maximize their opportunities.
Arguably the best way the Steelers can improve during the bye week is to get healthy. Players like Mike Mitchell (ankle), Sean Davis (ankle), Chris Hubbard (concussion), Vance McDonald (knee), Stephon Tuitt (back) and Marcus Gilbert (hamstring) should all be ready to go for their Week 10 matchup against the Colts in Week 10 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
You can hear more details, statistics and analysis in the podcast player above. Take a listen to the 10-minute show...you won’t regret it!