“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” -Michael Jordan
All you hear on sports talk radio and all that you read on sports’ websites is that the Pittsburgh Steelers have tons of talent. They have a top offensive line. They have better and deeper receivers than any other team. They have a Hall of Fame quarterback. They have one of the best running backs in the game.
How on Earth can this offense be so bad when it has so much talent?
To be clear, the problems the Steelers are having on offense are not easily narrowed down to one or two things. There are many but the one overriding issue I keep coming back to is the complete lack of cohesion this unit has. When I see the Steelers take the field I don’t see an offense. I see a group of 11 guys who aren’t on the same page.
The offensive line which has suffered from the absence of Marcus Gilbert is not a well-oiled machine. There are missed blocks, poor communication and there is no consistency whatsoever. In their defense, it has to be hard coming off of a game where they ran so effectively only to have to pass block 57 times. That leads me to the second issue.
I have been told that Mike Tomlin wanted a gameplan Sunday that featured a ‘pass-first’ mentality. The idea being that he wanted to “get Ben Roethlisberger going” with three tough games remaining before the bye week. If that’s true, then Todd Haley went above and beyond and questions about Tomlin should be raised. If however that isn’t accurate, then Haley needs his head examined.
Le’Veon Bell ran the ball a total of nine times before halftime. He added just six more after that. This came against a Jaguars’ team with the worst rushing defense in the NFL. What good does the uber talented Bell do you if you don’t use him?
Haley is often the definition of that guy who wants to constantly prove he’s smarter than everyone else. Rather than just do what is obvious and what makes the most sense, he overthinks the situation. Look no further than this unit’s blundering in the red zone. But that can’t be all on Haley either because execution has to be part of the equation.
There is no denying the talent of Ben Roethlisberger but questions about his sudden drop in play are fair. He hasn’t been to Arizona to train in several offseasons now choosing instead to stay home and “rest the arm.” Perhaps the rust is still getting shaken off even this far into the season? Or maybe as he said Sunday “he just doesn’t have it anymore.” That isn’t something I want to hear from my quarterback whether he meant it sarcastically or not.
Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant should be the best receiving duo in football from a talent standpoint and Brown has held up his end of the bargain. But what do we make of Bryant? He still doesn’t look as though he’s regained the confidence he once had and his explosiveness is nowhere to be found.
While Bell was under-utilized on Sunday, has he bought into the ‘team concept’ or he is more concerned with getting paid and rapping from his locker on Fridays?
Whether or not the National Anthem controversy or the Brown sideline fit are still hanging over this team is unclear. What is however crystal clear is that this offense is a group of players and coaches who aren’t getting it done. They were beaten Sunday by a more prepared team and a more motivated team that didn’t just go through the motions. They played as a team and not as a group of individuals.
There’s still time for the Steelers to figure out this concept but I’m really not certain they will. That would take individual sacrifice and putting aside one’s personal agenda. All of the talent in the world doesn’t mean crap if you can’t put it all together.