It’s hard to ask what’s wrong with a team who is 4-3 and leading their division but that’s exactly what I’m asking about the Steelers today.
I’ll start with this. I expected the loss to the Patriots even if Ben had played and I am not in the group that thinks Landry Jones is terrible. I think he proved on Sunday that he’s a capable back up. I won’t go much further than pointing out his 29 completions for 281 yards and a TD. Yes, I’m aware of his interception in the end zone but are you aware that he had a TD pass taken off the board due to a holding penalty? His kicker missed 2 kicks, his coach was, well, outcoached and his defense was incapable of stopping the run or certainly the pass. So, no, it’s not Landry Jones starting last week and possibly next week that’s an issue.
The problems right now start at the top. Once again, I’m going at Mike Tomlin. He just isn’t that good of a coach. His decision making in crunch time is poor, his ability to get his teams up against sub .500 teams is quite frankly bad (19-22 since 2012) and schematically he appears to be a mess. His sayings are old and hollow and his defensive philosophy has to be questioned; which brings me to that unit.
The defense, folks, just isn’t that good either. Keith Butler, to me, is out of place as the defensive coordinator and shouldn’t have been promoted last season, that’s on Tomlin. The Steelers are dead last in the league in sacks. Yes, the black and gold are last in sacks. It just doesn’t sound right, does it? The dirty little secret about defensive success, specific to the Steelers beliefs; you have to get to the quarterback, at least apply pressure, but this team does not do that, ever. Couple that with the fact that the secondary is weak and it spells disaster. When you face guys like Tom Brady, you’re going to lose every time if you can’t pressure him and you can’t cover the receivers, it’s that simple and it’s happening right in front of our eyes. Butler needs to spend the bye week in the classroom studying film and finding ways to rectify the issues his unit has or else this team could be torched weekly moving forward.
It’s not just Tomlin being mediocre or the defense not living up to the Steel City’s expectations but the injuries continue to mount up on a weekly basis, which seems to be the case every year. Big Ben alluded to it a few weeks ago; it’s possible Tomlin is just grinding these guys too hard in the summer and during practice leading up to game days. Their biggest names go down every week, Big Ben, Ryan Shazier and Cam Heyward just to name a few, the list is far too large to go through here. You cannot obtain injuries at the pace this team does and expect to sustain success, it’s just too difficult for any team to overcome.
If they want to get to the Promised Land, they can’t rely on sheer talent alone, they need the injuries to slow down, the defense to improve in all facets of the game and Mike Tomlin to learn how to get this team up for the lower end of the league and maybe, just maybe, figure out how make in game adjustments as well.
Thank goodness they have a bye this week….
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.