A major problem the Steelers had last season was an odd tendency to play down to lower competition. Nothing irked Steelers fans more than seeing Pittsburgh fall to the New York Jets a week after completely dominating the Baltimore Ravens. It was frustrating, to say the least.
It was those losses to the Browns, Buccaneers, Jets, and Saints that forced the team into an uncomfortable position late in the season, with their playoff hopes hanging in the balance. Granted, those losses may have motivated them to start winning in bunches towards the end, but that stressful time could’ve been avoided had Mike Tomlin’s squad taken care of business. Their lack of consistency caused them to win one game and lose the next, no matter what momentum they carried into the showdown.
The emotional roller coaster rode through town every week, with people wondering whether they’d see the Steelers team that lit up the scoreboard against the Colts and Ravens, or the pathetic squad that fell to the Bucs.
The obvious solution would be to score whenever they should. The offense may have been on fire this past season, but their red zone efficiency wasn’t nearly as good. They must start involving a plethora of players to maximize their chances of scoring because Antonio Brown and Le’veon Bell can’t always shoulder all the work load.
This philosophy rang true once Martavis Bryant started scoring. Of course the player must develop that trust with Ben Roethlisberger, otherwise there won’t be much connection happening.
The defense must also step up and stop allowing huge plays at critical moments. One play that sticks out in my mind is that Jordan Cameron long gain that caused Cleveland to successfully triumph over the Steelers the second time around.
Big plays like that killed them, and there are many more examples. Point is, the defense has to lock up tighter during those crucial moments that decide games.
I wouldn’t doubt if another cause of the Steelers’ poor play was their overconfidence. No matter what the coaches and players said, I always suspected that they wouldn’t go 100% against a lower caliber team. Its mind boggling that they would recognize their mistakes during interviews and press conferences and yet no improvement would be noted the next week.
In order to make a deep playoff run, this trend has to cease. Win the games you’re supposes to, and watch everything else fall into place.