The Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense has become the broken record of the National Football League. Dating back to the early 2000’s, this unit continues to make the same mistakes over and over and Keith Butler has to be held accountable for it. The fact of the matter is that this defense is “good enough” to beat a lot of teams in the NFL. But it clearly lacks the coaching and the talent (which isn’t totally Butler’s fault) to beat teams that have both talent and creative coaching. Unfortunately Butler’s time needs to meet its’ end.
If we are going to say that the game passed Dick LeBeau by then what do we say of Butler? Last night’s loss to Los Angeles was exhibit A on how you beat the Steelers and has it been forever. You use motion to create mismatches and you get the ball out quickly in order to negate the pass rush. It also helps when you have a pro bowl receiver as the guy benefiting from those mismatches.
None of us can be mad at L.J. Fort or Jon Bostic. These guys always give great effort but they are helpless against a guy like Keenan Allen. He was the beneficiary of horrible and predictable game-planning by Butler who clearly believed his rushers would cover up his coverage’s shortcomings.
Even though his defense limited the Chargers to zero rushing yards in the first half, Butler’s defense was still unable to consistently pressure Philip Rivers. Then the second half came and while Los Angeles made clear adjustments to get their running game more productive, Butler and company did nothing.
The nail in the Steelers’ coffin last night was most poetic. Rivers hit Allen for a first down on third and four. Who was guarding him? Jon Bostic. And on the biggest play of the game. Once again Butler had refused to adjust and it cost his team. Or maybe he just didn’t know how to adjust which is even more disturbing.
Did Ken Whisenhunt have an advantage as the play caller for the Chargers? He was once in the same capacity for the Steelers but that was well over a decade ago. Perhaps it’s an indictment of how little the Steelers’ defense has actually changed. Did Whisenhunt see the same weaknesses that existed so long ago? Perhaps that’s what we should really be talking about.
Changing coordinators is never easy. Changing your entire scheme is even more difficult but Mike Tomlin has to realize the time has come. I don’t put the entire loss on Butler and the defense but the broken record on that side of the ball is still spinning. It needs to stop or the same mistakes will keep happening and I’ll have to keep writing about them.