Embarrassing. Humiliating. Laughable. I think those words sum up my feelings after the Pittsburgh Steelers loss to Cleveland yesterday . The mere fact that this team lost by just six points despite the fact they turned it over eight times is remarkable. Yes, I said “eight times.” What the Steelers and the fan base should have taken from their personal ‘Mistake by the Lake’ was that this team has serious issues that go much further than the absence of Ben Roethlisberger.
To think that Roethlisberger returning would suddenly make this team a Super Bowl contender again is a hopeful, yet laughable offense. Of course the return of number seven would make a tremendous impact but there are other problems that not even he can help. What are the other problems you ask? In no particular order…
The Offensive Line: Sean Kugler and the offensive line have lost their magic. I don’t care about injuries or guys switching positions either. The standard is the standard right? This line has completely lost the ability to block in the running game and I’m starting to wonder again if it is personnel or coaching because the total lack of consistency is alarming.
I have to believe David DeCastro is going to be activated sooner rather than later from the injury list. If Mike Adams and/or Willie Colon are out for any extended period of time then this team may as well go shotgun all the time.
The Running Backs: While I firmly lay the blame for each and every fumble firmly at the hands of each man that coughed it up yesterday, I also lay a ton of blame at the feet of Mike Tomlin who suddenly cannot make a decision on who should be getting the bulk of the carries. When one of your backs, Chris Rainey in this case, says he wasn’t even sure he’d play then you know you’ve got committment problems because he was eventually ‘the man’ after fumbles by Mendenhall, Redman and Dwyer.
No, Mike Tomlin isn’t responsible for fumbles, but he is responsible for making the tough decisions that an NFL head coach is responsible for making and he is failing miserably in many areas and none more so than at the running back position.
Mike Wallace: I don’t know whether Todd Haley owes Wallace an apology or whether Mike owes us one. I’ve never seen a guy with so much speed get so under-utilized before. It’s obvious quick-screens do not work as well as they once did and the fact that Wallace is rarely used on crossing routes is mind-boggling. Did Haley not see the Giants’ game?
Wallace does have his own issues however as he NEVER fights for a ball and gives up on plays before they even start at times. I understand his frustration but he does himself no favors with lackluster route-running and lazy blocking. I’m pretty confident that Wallace’s career in the black ‘n gold is coming to an end whether it is of his choosing or the Steelers.
The Front Office: All the talking heads drink the same kool-aid that many Steelers’ fans have as well about our back-up quarterbacks. “Boy it sure is great to have those two veterans backing up Roethlisberger.” Hogwash! These two ‘veteran’ QBs have put a grand total of 17 points on the board in two games. The fact that Jerrod Johnson at the very least wasn’t kept on the practice squad was arrogant and misguided.
What have Leftwich and Batch shown us in recent years to think they could win games for the Steelers? Yes, Charlie got us to 3-1 during Ben’s suspension but he didn’t have to win games because the defense and running game did. The one game he needed to pull out for us was home against Baltimore and he failed miserably as he threw a pick to Ray Lewis to end the game.
Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert both realize they have a franchise QB who gets hurt a lot and they tried to address it with the drafting of offensive linemen in April, but they have done nothing to protect the ‘team’ investment by making sure a capable back-up QB was in the fold.
This team still controls its’ own fate in many ways, but things have to change and Roethlisberger playing Sunday won’t cure all the ills that have befallen this team.