The Steelers finally snapped their four game losing streak this past Sunday against the winless, hapless and hopeless Browns. The score looks good enough, the stats may seem fine on paper but if you set your eyes to the game, you know, or should know, the real deal.
This team needed that win badly in order to keep their playoff hopes alive but they are far from being good. Offensively, they have issues with Sammie Coates, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Markus Wheaton and DeAngelo Williams all hurt. Thanks in large part to those injuries, guys not named LeVeon Bell or Antonio Brown only amassed a total of 36 yards on Sunday. That’s a potentially huge problem against a team who is not nearly as inept as the Cleveland Browns are.
Big Ben is still one of the best in the business and is capable of making huge plays every time he has the ball but he does need additional help and if the Steelers depth chart can’t provide that, it won’t take much for quality defenses to shut down, or at least contain Brown and Bell.
Mike Tomlin once again tried his best to boot the game as he three times went for a touchdown on 4th and goal at the end of the first half. If not for two Browns penalties on back to back plays, the Steelers would not have scored. Yes, they ultimately got the touchdown but the Browns saved Tomlin from looking like the true fool he is and was in that situation. Logic dictates that you kick the field goal and go up 9-0 rather than risk going in the locker room with no points in that situation and only holding a one score lead. Many will laud Tomlin for his bravado but don’t count me in that group. I berate his ignorance and think he is quite possibly the most overrated coach in the NFL. But you’ve heard me speak to that at nauseam. My point is quite simply this, against other teams across the league, Tomlin needs to tone down his arrogance or he’ll pay the piper in a big way, similar to the Dallas loss.
Moving on, the defense played rather well with the highlight being the James Harrison sack to set the Steelers franchise record but if we are being honest here, were you that impressed with the performance they put out there? I wasn’t. I want to be, I really do but I just wasn’t. They were playing the worst team in the history of football, which was starting a rookie at quarterback and they still struggled in some areas. They allowed some big run plays and when Josh McCown came into the game, he marched the team right down the field, further proving this defense stinks. If and when the team plays a veteran quarterback with any kind of talent around him, they’ll be in trouble.
Encouragingly enough, it did appear that Keith Butler picked up the pressure which did contribute to the six sacks but we need to see this against a real NFL team, not the JV squad of the league.
A win is a win and the Steelers do find themselves tied for first atop the AFC North with a real chance to win the division. I think a wild card is probably out so it’s division or nothing for the black and gold but with all of the issues this team has, it’s hard to be too optimistic about how far they can advance because despite all the talent they do have on this squad, they still have major issues that keep them far from being good.
Mike Pelaia hosts the website Steel Nation Association http://www.steelnationassociation.com– Covering the Steelers and helping Children’s Hospital All Day Everyday. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.