I have absolutely no problem telling you that I sure never saw last week coming. Did I think the Steelers could win in Carolina? Of course! I always think they can win but based upon the prior six quarters of action, I just didn’t see it happening.
This week the Steelers return to the 1pm time slot and host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who are 0-3 on the season. Here’s our weekly piece highlighting what needs to happen for the Steelers to win.
1. Play to Their Own Expectations, not Tampa Bay’s. We can talk about the penalties and poor execution that has haunted this team the last couple of years but it’s become even more common for the Steelers to play down to their competition (think Oakland, Tennessee, etc). The Buccaneers are entering this game 0-3 and fresh off of a 56-14 loss to Atlanta.
They’ll have Mike Glennon at quarterback and who knows will be calling the plays as coordinator Jeff Tedford took a leave of absence. All of this adds up to a Steelers’ win doesn’t it? It certainly should but if they do as they have and play down to the Buccaneeers then they will be in for a battle.
2. Dick LeBeau Must Roll With the Changes. The Steelers’ defensive coordinator installed a much better plan last week and it paid dividends for his squad who looked as good as they have all season. Now LeBeau must adjust after three of his starters went down with injuries.
I think Sean Spence and the tandem of Arthur Moats and James Harrison will be fine. I expect Harrison will see 15-20 snaps on Sunday as he works back into shape. I think you’ll also see some of Vince Williams and perhaps Terence Garvin as well.
The big issue is the loss of Ike Taylor. William Gay will take his place in the Steelers’ base defense but Tomlin eluded to Gay moving to his normal slot coverage position in nickel and/or dime. Regardless of where Gay is, LeBeau will be forced to use Brice McCain, Antwon Blake and potentially B.W. Webb too.
With the Bucs featuring two big starting receivers, the pressure provided by the front seven will be extremely important. Mike Glennon may be a young QB but if he’s given time to loft the ball up to Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson LeBeau will have serious issues.
3. Todd Haley Needs to Keep Spreading the Wealth. None of us can expect the Steelers to run for 260 yards every week. Ya, that’d be nice and all but it isn’t realistic. Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley needs to allow Ben Roethlisberger to use all of the weapons at his disposal. I can complain all day about how short Haley’s passing game is designed to throw the ball but it isn’t going to change.
Therefore, Roethlisberger needs to keep taking what he’s given. I still believe the passing game will lead to the success of the running game and I don’t think that will change Sunday as the Buccaneers look to take away Le’Veon Bell. Look for Roethlisberger to find Antonio Brown, Heath Miller and Markus Wheaton early in the game.
If Haley falls in love with his traditional ‘run, run, throw on third and long’ garbage then the team is in trouble. Mix it up and spread the ball around.
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 Trib-Live Radio Steelers Pre-Game
photo courtesy espn.go.com