Steelers’ Offensive Woes are More Than Just Haley

Todd Haley could be a front runner in Arizona.The Pittsburgh Steelers first-team offense has now gone two straight preseason appearances without a touchdown. While the opener against the New York Giants offered some glimmers of hope from this unit, last night’s debacle in the nation’s capitol took the shine away in an instant.

As expected, Steeler Nation is understandably searching out one of several bridges from which to leap today. What the loss to Washington felt like was a complete and total repeat from many games of the 2012 season. The offense was troubled by penalties, missed assignments and turnovers while the defense was good, but just not good enough.

Much of the finger pointing is at 2nd year offensive coordinator Todd Haley. The monumental shift from Bruce Arians’ downfield passing attack to his short-passing, run-oriented attack has left many fans scratching their heads. Haley’s offense may be struggling again but he is far from the entire problem right now.

The Steelers had a couple of well-executed plays both last night and last week go for naught because of penalties. Haley can’t be blamed for penalties and mental errors. That’s on the players and ultimately on Mike Tomlin who has promised to clean this crap up. To this point he hasn’t and it’s troubling to put it mildly.

As any football coach knows, if you run an offense as it is supposed to be executed, it is ultimately unstoppable. Todd Haley’s offense can be such an offense but not when it is being stopped by itself and not the opponent.

When your quarterback is facing pressure at the same time his plant foot lands in a five-step drop, there’s a problem. In fact, there’s a MAJOR problem. The Steelers’ tackles Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert are giving way too much ground in pass protection and it is affecting Ben Roethlisberger’s ability to read the defense without being pressured.

I do not for the life of me understand why the tackles do not attack the pass rushers more aggressively. By giving as much as they do, they are allowing the rushers to not only gain leverage, but speed as well. It makes absolutely no sense to me.

It wasn’t just them last night though. All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey looked bad more than he looked good and guard David DeCastro struggled as well at times. Factor in the less than acceptable blocking by David Paulson and what the Steelers have is a full blown mess on the offensive line right now. Don’t be a bit surprised to see Kelvin Beachum move into a starting spot in place of Gilbert. He can’t be any worse at this point.

I have no problem if you don’t like Todd Haley’s offense. I’m not crazy about it either and he wasn’t my first choice to replace Arians, but it has had its’ moments especially in the first eight games of last year. Since then however it has been bad with a capital ‘B.’ That ‘B’ could also stand for ‘Bad Blocking’ though too.

Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.


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7 comments on “Steelers’ Offensive Woes are More Than Just Haley

  1. What does the salary cap look like After this season 2013 Does it look any better going into 2014? So far the entire team DOESN’T pass the EYE test. There is NO depth ANYWHERE. Players like Heyward Hood haven’t lived up to being 1st rd picks And bringing back players like Gay should have told the educated fan This season is gonna be UGLY prob worse then last year. Right now can’t see Steelers winning more then 7 games & prob look like 5-11 team & top 10 draft pick next season. Might as well suck alittle more & get in line to draft Clowney. Cause i’m not seeing Steelers bringing back Keisel & HOOD & Heyward have done NOTHING where they should be brought back.

  2. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Redskin game looked like a repeat of last year’s ineptitudes. Fact is steelers have not drafted well under Tomlin and its showing up now.New o- line coach and we still can’t pass block. Teams will pick on william gay and ike taylor again. Field goals will not win games in this league either. We must finish drives if we want to win. Roethisberger not happy with play calling. That swing pass that got picked off was a midget football play. Kerrigan didn’t do anything that great steelers just predictable again.Bright spots were Shamarko Thomas’ hit, Jarvis Jones’ getting turnovers and Emmanuel Sanders with a couple clutch catches.I thought Dwyer ran well also.Other than that nothing much to get excited about this year.

    • Thanks Mike. I felt for the longest time Monday night that I was in a twilight zone. Everything that was happening offensively was a total repeat of the mistakes from last year. I expect to see a team with some fire and desperation on Saturday night.

  3. Well good football starts in the trenches, and our play has been steadily declining now for three years. Then the Steelers think they were going to solve the problem by playing the poorest group of starters from last year and disguising it as a youth movement. The truth is we let our two best linemen go and they weren’t even that good. They are trying to replaces 8 starters with lessor talent. Wallace is better than Sanders , Miller is better than Paulson, Starks is better than Adams, Mendenhall is better than Dwyer, Lewis is better than Allen, Hampton is better than Mcclendon, Colon is better than foster, You can’t have this big of a talent drop-off team wide and expect things to be rosy. Then add in the poor job at player personnel and offensive coordinator and here we are today.

    • You make some great points Bob. I’ve been a critic of Kevin Colbert’s player evaluation for years especially when it comes to linemen. If you look back at his days in Detroit as the top player scout there, the linemen drafted were busts in all but one or two occassions. That said, you bring up something people need to recognize as well in that we are trying to replace a lot of guys at a lot of different positions and that’s never easy.

  4. I totally agree that a good offense starts with the O-Line. They have been getting worse as the years roll by. It seems to me, every time the Steelers get to the Red Zone or close to it, you almost can guarantee that the O-line will have some kind of penalty called against them! Which leads to them to shooting themselves in the foot. I have been watching this team playing since 1974 and never seen a worse O-line that I can remember. Some one needs to get control of this and fast! Or next year the Browns and the Steelers will swap records!

    • Thanks for reading Chris. I’m doing my best to stay positive with the O-line considering they are young and haven’t played together as a unit very much but I certainly understand the frustration. You mentioned the red zone issues and I agree. They have three very well-executed plays in the first two preseason games and each one has been for naught due to penalties. We need to see some desperation on Saturday night.

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