The typical response when the Pittsburgh Steelers lose a game they should have won is usually one of apoplectic proportions. I’ve been there and done that but you won’t find me calling for anyone’s head here. Instead, you’ll get some thoughts on just what ails these Steelers and I fear these issues aren’t going away anytime soon.
This is the Steeers’ second loss and it came on the road again in a fashion not horribly different from the first. Mike Tomlin’s team has less of a “can’t win on the road” problem and more of a “we can’t match their intensity” issue. I can’t explain it but like the loss in Philly, the Steelers were beaten to every punch today by a desperate team fighting to save its season.
Rather than match that intensity, the Steelers looked as though a walk in the park would have been more enticing. This is an issue that has plagued Mike Tomlin’s teams in recent years. Somewhere in the preparation for these non-divisional games, the team lacks the urgency necessary to compete. That’s a problem.
Tomlin himself won’t use the injuries problems as an excuse nor should he but the absence of Cam Heyward today was as glaring as the South Florida sun. The Dolphins and mainly Jay Ajayi ran over, through and around the Steelers’ defense that had been ranked among the best in the NFL at stopping the run. Rookie Javon Hargrave was mobile and at times effective but he was quite often caught up in the wash that consumed Ricardo Mathews and Daniel McCullers all afternoon. As long as Heyward is out, this is going to be a struggle. That’s a problem.
The offensive line is one of those units where injuries have taken a toll but they struggled today and teams are starting to figure things out. Most importantly, teams are realizing that if they can alter the Steelers’ receivers and force Ben Roethlisberger into his second and third reads then that gives their pass rushers ample time to get to Roethlisberger. That’s a problem.
The Steelers’ pass rush is, well, it isn’t a pass rush. The Steelers again went sackless against a team that had an offensive line that surrendered 11 sacks in the last two weeks. Keith Butler isn’t an idiot so much of the problem has to be based around a complete lack of talent. No one is getting to the quarterback period. That’s a problem.
What’s most troublesome about these issues is that I don’t see them going anywhere. Heyward will be out at least until after the bye and perhaps the same can be said for Marcus Gilbert as well. I don’t see Kevin Greene and Greg Lloyd coming back to aid the pass rush either.
At 4-2 and with the benefit of all three other division teams losing, the Steelers’ day could have been far worse. Unfortunately Mike Tomlin has to find the answers to these issues and right now I don’t think he has one. As you may have guessed, that’s a problem.