As I did following the first four and first eight games, I’m going to give you my thoughts on where the Steelers are with their final four games remaining.
In their last four games, the Steelers defeated the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans while losing to the New York Jets and New Orleans. The Steelers currently stand at 7-5 on the season and remained tied for second, or last place depending upon on your view, in the AFC North.
Cincinnati leads the division at 8-3-1 while the Steelers are tied with Baltimore and Cleveland at 7-5. It’s really quite a simple equation for the Steelers; win out and they should be fine because that would be two wins over Cincy and a win over Kansas City. Even one loss however will make things very difficult and will likely hang on what other teams do.
Offense Over the Last Four Games
Talk about a mixed bag… The first of the Steelers’ last four games saw Ben Roethlisberger throw six touchdown passes against the Baltimore Ravens. In the following three games he had just four touchdown passes total.
The running game stumbled against the Jets and then saw Le’Veon Bell rush for over 200 yards against the Titans. The release of LeGarrette Blount has not been felt yet but if Sunday’s loss was any indication, it looks like Le’Veon Bell will be the “bell cow” for the season and that type of load worries me.
The offensive line has been incredibly inconsistent. In the game where Bell rushed for over 20o yards, they surrendered five sacks and almost all of them were up the middle. In two starts this season in place of Marcus Gilbert, Mike Adams has acquitted himself well. Overall however, the OL remains a work in progress under Mike Munchak.
Defense Over the Last Four Games
The Steelers are surrendering 25.5 points per game over their last four games. Meanwhile, the offense is averaging 28.75 PPG which is further proof this team will go as the offense goes. Injuries to Troy Polamalu, Ryan Shazier and Steve McLendon over the last four games have been key issues leading to the 2-2 record.
Safety Mike Mitchell continues to be a complete bust as a free agent. He is horribly out of position at crucial times and continues to be a horrendous tackler.
The loss of Brett Keisel for the season is a blow to an already struggling defensive line unit. LBs James Harrison and Jason Worilds have been stable but are not getting nearly enough pressure on the quarterback.
Special Teams Over the Last Four Games
The Steelers appear to have solved their kick return problems with Markus Wheaton being a significant upgrade over Dri Archer and the now departed LeGarrette Blount. While Wheaton hasn’t been spectacular, he has been an improvement and that’s saying something.
I still feel the Steelers have to go with Antonio Brown on punt returns but would really like to see someone else back there. The fact that he has yet to return one for a score tells me the blocking by the unit on PR and KR is subpar.
Brad Wing and Shaun Suisham have both been good, but both have had their hiccups as well missing on key parts of their jobs at crucial times.
At 7-5, the Steelers task is clear as I pointed out above. Unfortunately I don’t think the postseason is in this team’s future and the main culprit is a complete lack of consistency.
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