The 13 points Pittsburgh scored against the Kansas City Chiefs was the team's second lowest total of the season. While it was reasonable to expect problems with the offense having Landry Jones in at quarterback, there were still opportunities for Pittsburgh to win the game with the offense putting up more points and converting in key situations.
While there were plays like DeAngelo Williams' red zone drop on third down, we are going to take a look at other key plays in our film room to show what the offensive unit could have done better that people might not have noticed when watching on game day.
This was the fourth down stop Kansas City had against DeAngelo Williams. The Chiefs were prepared to stop a run at the line of scrimmage as soon as the Steelers lined up. Notice how the defensive line gets off the snap of the ball and controls the line of scrimmage. The linebackers and second level defenders also were quick to react to a run call and smothered the Steelers offense here. Williams' best bet would probably have been to try going outside to go one-on-one with his speed against a linebacker to the sideline, but that's also a tough thing to see when you're trying to win in a cloud of dust.
However what might have helped more was if the Steelers lined up in a "smaller" formation with more wide receivers and running back options to force the Chiefs to have to spread out their defense and give Williams more opportunities to beat the defense with his feet and depend less on the offensive line to beat the Chiefs' strength, their defensive front.
We took the time last week in our preview of the Kansas City Chiefs that the Steelers should try to spread out their offense and force the Chiefs to put their less effective defensive players on the field in key situations. That did not happen here. Pittsburgh undoubtedly was trying not to lean too much on the inexperience of Landry Jones in key situations, but he can still hand the ball off when a formation spreads the defense out.
This interception ended up not hurting the Steelers as much thanks to a key defensive stand right before halftime, but this could have been a drive that led to points.
Notice Jones' head and how his eyes appear to never leave Martavis Bryant. Bryant would have been a great option had the Chiefs been in cover 2, but they were not and it ended up costing Pittsburgh. The better read would have been trying the out route to the best wide receiver in the NFL, Antonio Brown who had single coverage on the play.
Hopefully if Roethlisberger is back this week, we'll see him make these types of reads. Jones still has a long way to go to become a reliable NFL quarterback after he flashed potential last week against the Arizona Cardinals, and making plays with his head like the opportunity here could help his cause.
Tamba Hali has given Pittsburgh problems in the past, but there were some correctable fundamental mistakes which could have helped Alejandro Villanueva make a better block here on him to give Jones time.
Hali is tough in space, but Villanueva will have problems stopping any linebacker if his footwork is like what happened on this play. His first step is correct in the general direction it took him, but this is a learning situation for him. With the alignment of Hali, a deeper step that would allow him to attack Hali would give him a better position to engage the blitzing linebacker. He does not get his hands on Hali, and when the lienbacker breaks to Jones, Villanueva's feet stop chopping and it's over.
He still has time to learn, and could be the guy that needs to learn if the Steelers aren't able to sign Kelvin Beachum in the offseason. So hopefully this play and other mistakes he's made will help him develop into a more consistent tackle for the Steelers.
All signs point to Pittsburgh getting its offensive captain back against the Cincinnati Bengals this week, which would help with a lot of the issues seen here. However for their younger backup players, games like these need to be the early learning points of their careers to help them improve their craft by working harder on correctable, teachable mistakes.