Everyone discusses ‘in-game’ adjustments when it comes to how the Pittsburgh Steelers do each week and I thought for the most part they had their best game in this area on Monday night. Dick LeBeau made the proper moves to limit Arian Foster who had torched his defense in the first half.
Offensively, Mike Munchak made adjustments to limit the impact of J.J. Watt in the second half and they worked. Six of Watt’s seven quarterback pressures were in the first half.
On field and in game adjustments are small potatoes compared to the adjustments the Steelers’ front office and coaching staff need to make and I fear they have yet to realize that they still aren’t making them. This Sunday’s game will be a perfect illustration of what I’m talking about.
In past years with Indianapolis Colts coming in, the Steelers gameplan going in would have strongly resembled the following:
On offense, run the football, take time off the clock and keep Peyton Manning/Andrew Luck off the field.
On defense, stop the run, pressure the quarterback and create turnovers.
That type of gameplan is all well and good when you have the personnel to execute it and some will argue that offensively at least, the Steelers can do just as I said above. Still I argue that this mentality is not valid any longer as the NFL exists today.
The Steelers defense has given up scores on their opening drives six of seven times this year and you can bet the Colts are not going to settle often for field goals. Therefore, Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley had better allow Ben Roethlisberger to be aggressive early and force the Colts to actually play defense.
The chances of this happening are slim though because this isn’t what Art Rooney II wants to see. He wants the three yards and a cloud of dust that his predecessors witnessed before him. He also doesn’t want to see this defense and more importantly Dick LeBeau get any more embarrassed than they already have been over the last couple of years by being on the field too long.
This topic came up when I visited pensinitiative.com the other night with good friend Mike Asti. Too often in the last few years, the Steelers have tried to stick to a tried and true formula that worked for them more often than not under Bill Cowher and Chuck Noll.
Running the football is still a significant part of good offensive football but it’s no longer the bell cow it once was either. You need balance and you need to be able to throw the ball effectively early so you don’t have to later.
Remember when the Steelers got into the playoffs in 2005? They faced a daunting challenge of having to win three games on the road if they were to get to the Super Bowl and that they did. But it wasn’t just on the backs of the defense and running of Jerome Bettis and Willie Parker.
Cowher and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt came out throwing and immediately put the defenses on alert. This needs to happen more often in Pittsburgh right now and it needs to start this week. Throwing early doesn’t mean you are in a hurry either. You can throw the ball and still eat clock with good balance mixed in.
If Indianapolis has three opportunities to score in the first half like the Texans did on Monday night I guarantee you it won’t be just a 13-point deficit the Steelers will be facing.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteelDad and the website @SCBlitz. Check us out on Facebook at facebook.com/steelcityblitz and on Fancred.com. You can hear him weekly during the season on game day on the Trib-Live Radio Steelers Pre-Game