Who would have thought that after five games we’d be talking about just how awful the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Offense is? There’s no continuity. There’s no common sense. There’s inconsistent blocking and there’s no number two receiving option. Put it all together and you have one hell of a mess after today’s 30-9 loss to Jacksonville.
Where do you want to start? OK sure, let’s start with the quarterback.
We can bitch all we want to about Todd Haley but Ben Roethlisberger is not playing well. His throws are late. They are short, then long and they are nowhere near as accurate as we are used to seeing. Five interceptions today is only a small dose of evidence. Regardless of my dislike of Haley, Big Ben is struggling and that’s putting it mildly. Oh and remember when he said he needed to “stop forcing it to Antonio Brown?” Lots of ways to analyze that after today right?
Alright let’s get to Haley. The Jaguars entered today’s game with the worst rushing defense in the NFL. Therefore it should be little surprise that Haley abandoned the run way too early and instead threw the ball more than he needed to against the league’s top pass defense.
This is classic Haley. He always wants to prove he’s the smartest guy on the field rather than just do what works. The ‘no-back’ sets are predictable and so too is the entire offense. Why does a 6’5” Quarterback get his passes tipped and knocked down so often? Because teams read the drops they know what is coming. Therefore, they get their hands up!
Once thought to be the deepest part of the team, the Steelers’ receiving corps after Brown is borderline ineffective. Martavis Bryant is not nearly the threat he once was when he gets the ball and he still doesn’t have all of the route concepts down either. JuJu Smith-Schuster has been pleasantly productive but he isn’t ready to be a number two receiver. The lack of a true number two receiver is magnified when you consider the lack of any tight end threat as well.
This leads us back to the issue of Big Ben forcing it to Brown. If Roethlisberger already knows his other receivers aren’t going to get open then why not look immediately to AB? That ridiculous third and goal pass to Brown into the end zone was yet more evidence of this growing issue. That play was already a very risky play to begin with but Roethlisberger clearly felt that was his only option after two straight screen passes went nowhere.
The offensive line is not as good as we’ve been led to believe right now either. Chris Hubbard struggled mightily in place of Marcus Gilbert and Alejandro Villanueva lacks consistency. When your edges are soft the protection breaks down. The run blocking has also been up and down. For every good block David DeCastro has he gets driven back or takes a bad penalty on another. I would call Maurkice Pouncey the lone bright spot on this O-Line through five games.
If there’s any good news in all of this it’s that the season is still young and the Steelers play in a weak division. The bad news is that the schedule gives them no time to rest. Road trips to Kansas City and Detroit await as does a visit from a suddenly improving Bengals’ team before they hit their bye week.
By that point some of these issues for the Steelers have to to be resolved. Otherwise, what we saw today will become the norm.
Photo courtesy: The Heavy