Friends, fellow Citizens of The One and Only Nation, I hate to be all doom and gloom after a win, but to quote Shakespeare, “Something wicked this way comes.”
If you watched the game on Sunday night from Indianapolis, you have to concede that things do not look good. I think their record belies how the Steelers are playing, and I’m starting to think the opening game against the Ravens is closer to the reality of how this season is going to be than the last two games.
I’m going to tell you why.
The Offensive Line is a Complete Train Wreck
As I said in my lead-up to the Colts game, the Colts defense is not built to stop the run. They are used to playing with a lead and stopping the pass. They were even missing Gary Brackett, the great linebacker. The Steelers should have been able to pound the ball on the ground, especially up the middle where Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis do not play.
Instead, we saw the Steelers have success through the air (one of the few bright spots of the game), while having as much success on the ground as the Kardashian sisters have in constructing coherent sentences.
Mendy was completely stoned all game. His long run was for 15 yards as he had a total of yards 37 yards on 18 carries and no scores. A 2.1 yard per carry average for your featured back is about a yard and a half less than you want against a good rushing defense. Against the Colts, he should have been able to get 4+ yards per carry. Redman and Moore only had five carries between them, accounting for only 15 yards.
The Colts were clearly ready for the Steelers rushing attack, such as it is, so you would figure Ben Roethlisberger would have all day to throw the ball. You would be wrong.
Big Ben was under pressure all day, again, and the Colts forced two fumbles and a pick. Admittedly, Ben threw for 364 yards and a very nice 67.6 completion percentage. He distributed the ball to a lot of different guys (Nine guys had catches), but he was under nearly constant pressure.
Can some of this be blamed on Ben’s penchant for holding the ball to make a play? Or on running backs not finding holes? Sure. But at the end of the day, the O line has been shown to be vulnerable.
Get ready, Citizens. It will not get any easier. The Texans’ defense is ranked higher (17th) than the Colts’ defense (22nd) in rushing yards per game. And that’s after the Colts held the Steelers to 67 yards rushing.
Did I Mention Mike Wallace is Going to be a Star?
For the sixth game in a row, going back to the playoffs last year, Wallace caught passes for more then 100 yards. Heck, he had 100 yards after his third catch which was an 85-yard touchdown. Was I the only one surprised by the fact that this was the longest catch of his career? It seems like he has been catching 90-yard touchdowns since he arrived in Pittsburgh.
Wallace is currently second in the league in receiving yards (Wes Welker from New England leads) and is second in receiving yards per game (Welker, again). Wallace has 10 fewer catches than Welker, however, so his yards per catch is better then Welker by more than three yards per catch.
Are you ready for the bad news? Not one Steelers receiver, other than Wallace, is among the top-50 in receiving yards. Antonio Brown has 156 yards which puts him 54th in the league.
This is actually kind of double-edged sword. On the one hand, it could mean that Ben is distributing the ball to more guys, like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning do. On the other hand, it could mean that the other receivers are not getting open and the Steelers’ passing attack is too reliant on Wallace’s incredible speed.
I’ll let you decide what the situation is. Here are the facts: Only two other Steelers, Hines Ward and Heath Miller, are in the top-100 in the league for receiving yards. The total number of touchdowns between Brown, Ward, and Miller? Zero. Zilch. Nada.
Need more proof that Wallace is doing the majority of the heavy lifting in the passing game? He is the only Steelers’ receiver in the top-40 of receptions in the league for the year. Hines has 12 catches, which puts him tied for 49th in the league for receptions.
Citizens, the offense is not playing as well as you might think. Don’t take too much confidence in back to back wins over teams that are not going anywhere.