The Steelers talked the talk, but they definitely couldn’t walk the walk. Specifically, on defense. The 13-win season, the division title, the first-round bye; all for not. The season, in my estimation, is a failure.
The defense let them down against the Jaguars offense, who is about as dynamic as a high school team. The blueprint to stop them is pretty simple. Stop Leonard Fournette and make Blake Bortles beat you.
Apparently, despite the fact that everyone with a pulse knew that, the Steelers couldn’t execute. Fournette gashed them and because of that, Bortles was able to make just enough plays to keep Jacksonville moving the ball. The Jaguars, who had already used this model to throttle the Steelers in October, garnered 45 points against a defense who showed weaknesses against the run as well as the pass. Stuffing the box did nothing. Don’t even get me started on third downs, they allowed third-and-fives to turn into 40-yard gains.
The offense isn’t without its blame, we’ll get there, but anytime the offense would get the team within striking distance, you could bet dollars to doughnuts the defense was going to fail. It was like clockwork. There is no question the loss of Ryan Shazier surely impacted this team defensively; he was their most dynamic playmaker on that side of the ball and would have made a difference against the run. He wasn’t available and most likely never will be again and the Steelers cannot use that as an excuse. They didn’t game plan well, period.
Keith Butler should be fired. I don’t see it any other way. I don’t care that his defense led the league in sacks, they couldn’t get pressure on Bortles this past week, let alone a sack! I don’t care if there has been an increase in turnovers created since Butler took over, they didn’t get one in the win-or-go-home scenario they faced on Sunday, Jan. 14.
Let’s face it. There was a clear plan to stop the Jags, even with a sample sheet from the Oct. 8, 2017 game which told them what to do…and they failed, miserably. Because of that, the Steelers, and their fan base, must wait ‘til next year…again.