Before I go any further, this is not a ‘Fire Mike Tomlin’ or a ‘Fire Anyone’ article. Instead, it is a realistic look at this team, and how it is failing in the overall scheme of the modern day NFL.
The team’s offense, although inconsistent, is among the best in the league. I’m sure there are those who are taking to their Google search engine right now to show points per game, yardage gained, etc. to prove just how mediocre they feel this offense has become. I prefer the eye test, and the Steelers offense was anything but mediocre on Sunday.
Ben Roethlisberger was on his A-game, and you saw how good this offense can be when clicking on all cylinders. Le’Veon Bell accounts for over 120-yards from scrimmage, Antonio Brown has double-digit catches and those secondary threats like Eli Rogers, Jesse James and even Ladarius Green all chipped in when it mattered most. In other words, the offense carried this team throughout the Week 10 loss, and they will have to continue this trend if this team has any hopes of even making the rest of the season even respectable.
Yeah, no postseason talk yet, not off a 4-game skid and another road game against a sub-par team upcoming.
But here lies the rub. Other than the offense, the Steelers don’t have much of anything. It takes three phases to win football games, and the Steelers rarely have all three on any given Sunday. Heck, they would be lucky to have just two show up.
In Week 9 at Baltimore, it was the defense who showed up and stifled the Ravens running attack, only to watch the offense fall flat on their face. Week 10 showed the offense stand tall on the national stage, only to watch the defense swing and miss, literally.
The defense deserves it’s share of blame, but the people responsible of the personnel on that side of the ball should shoulder the majority of the blame. With the amount of really high draft picks being spent on the defense, there is no reason they should be this porous. No reason they should be thankful the Buffalo Bills released Ross Cockrell, their best cornerback on the team’s roster. No reason why they should be relying on Artie Burns and Sean Davis as regular starters.
Injuries happen, but the cupboard is mighty bare for the Steelers at every defensive position, except for inside linebacker. Now, that is a problem.
The last part of this equation is special teams. Danny Smith has caught a lot of flack the past few weeks, and rightfully so; however, it isn’t Smith who is whiffing on an onside kick, kicking a kickoff out of bounds, allowing big punt returns or even struggling to make a field goal outside of 50-yards, all while watching the opposition make them with ease.
The point of this is the Steelers can win with two of these three phases being successful, but not just one. The one trend throughout this four-game losing streak has been just that, only one aspect of the team shows up on game day.
Why does this happen? Most will point to coaching, and that has become a very clear issue with this team, but the players should also be held accountable. There was a reason Ben Roethlisberger said after the loss Sunday the team was undisciplined and needed to be held accountable.
Strong words from the franchise quarterback.
Say what you want, but the Steelers still have a chance to turn this thing around, and only because of how bad the AFC North has become. But before people go looking at the schedule and penciling in wins and losses, the team just needs to win one game.
One game to end the streak.
One game to get back to .500.
One game to save the season.
Cleveland, here we come.