Sometimes You Just Get Outplayed

by John Cihon

Thor (Marvel Comics)

 

A lot of Pittsburgh Steelers fans are still trying to decide who’s to blame or what decision the coaches could have made to avoid a loss to the New York Jets last week. I’ve got to tell you guys; sometimes it’s not that easy.

‘But the coaches should have-‘, you say. I say thee nay! Sometimes you just get outplayed. Sometimes you just get your behinds kicked in the trenches. The offensive line failed. You cannot strategize around that. No amount of trickeration can make up for a non-existent offensive line. You can’t coach a bad player into a good player. There is no play set that effectively covers up a weak offensive line. Sean Mahan has been a disappointment all season, no doubt about that, but it’s getting worse. I believe I saw Alan Faneca attempting to cover his position and cover for Mahan on Sunday, which only resulted in Mahan and Faneca failing to do their jobs, ultimately letting Ben Roethlisberger get sacked seven freaking times. The line’s been bad all season, but Roethlisberger’s ability to escape the sack has served to hide how bad the line is most of the season. Some fans have criticized Ben for holding onto the ball too long this year, but he’s not really holding it that long compared to the Tom Bradys and Peyton Mannings of the league. The line is just failing to keep pressure off him, so Ben has been hurried a substantial amount of the time this season. Luckily for us, he plays very well in pressure situations, but we can’t be lucky all season long.

Special teams have also been a miserable disappointment, despite the coaching staff’s best efforts. We drafted the best punter available in the fourth round. He’s been a let-down, although his underwhelming performance is still a step up from what Chris Gardocki was doing last season. After slotting everyone and their brother into the punt return slot during camp and the pre-season, the coaching staff went out and traded for a Pro Bowl punt returner. And now, Allen Rossum is under-performing after a promising start. What else do you people expect the coaching staff to do?

And to put the cherry on top, Troy Polamalu been failing to effectively cover the middle of the field all season, and it finally caught up to us last week.

When so many players fail to execute in the same game, it’s not about the coaching. It’s not about a better play. But this day after Thanksgiving, the Jets game does give us a couple of things to be thankful for. Number one, the Steelers are generally a pretty good team, and we haven’t had to suffer though a game like that since the Oakland Raiders game last year. Number two, the Steelers have had the same flaws in their team all season, but their strengths combined with a schedule filled with weak opposition have made it possible for them to ignore their own weaknesses. They can’t pretend they’re not there anymore.

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