Steelers MMQB: NFL Week 4 Wrap Up

How much more of this can Ben handle this season? Image courtesy foxsports.com

 

What we learned after Week 4 in the NFL:

  • The Dream Team is now 1-3
  • Romo blows as 4th quarter league and is no longer everyone’s hero
  • The Bengals stun the Bills to the delight of the dozen fans who showed up to the game
  • Ravens defense dominates Sanchez and the Jets
  • Steelers offensive line and run defense troubles highlighted in their loss to the Texans

Blah, blah, blah other games were played.  Now WTH is going on with the Steelers?  I usually spend the first part of the Monday Morning Quarterback going over some of the highlights and lowlights of the other games that were played but I can only seem to relive the Steelers game in my head over and over again.  So what when wrong?  Basically, the Steelers have 2 giant weaknesses so far this season; the offensive line and the run defense.  That’s what opponents are focusing on when watching game tape in preparation for the Steelers and that’s what they are exploiting when playing them. After the Steelers were manhandled by the Ravens in Week 1 I urged everyone to calm down and not panic.  Is it time to panic yet?

I’m still not ready to panic.  Maybe it’s just my blind faith in the black & gold, maybe it’s my stubbornness, or maybe because it’s only Week 4 and these issues can and should be resolved. In Mike Tomlin’s post game presser, he talked about the major issues being fundamental football; tackling and blocking.  Texans RB Arian Foster ran all over the Steelers, a sight Steeler fans aren’t used to seeing, thanks to the Steelers inability to stop the run so far this season. Ben, already with 9 sacks going into the game, was sacked another 5 times and hurried on what seemed like every play.  Ben’s pocket is dissolving quicker than Phil Simms’ manhood when he’s talking about Tom Brady.

The Steelers were fortunate to go into halftime down only 10-0 thanks to repeated penalties by the Texans that nullified a fumble recovery and a blocked field goal returned for a touchdown.  The Texans completely dominated the first half in possession of the ball and control of the line of scrimmage.  The Steelers came back in the second half, tying the score, only to allow a scoring drive by the Texans that was capped off by a 42 yard touchdown run by Arian Foster.  The teams then traded possessions and the Steelers finally got the ball back with 1:02 at their own 1 yard line.  What could have been an epic comeback to tie the game and send it to overtime ended up in an interception with :10 left on the clock.

Foster ran for 155 yards against the Steelers defense. Image courtesy yahoosports.com

Still I can’t believe how not panicky I am. After a Steelers loss I am usually pouting like a child and storm out of whatever room I’m watching the game in and ignore football for the rest of the day.  I’m not giving up on this team so quickly.  I can’t seem to believe that this offensive line, which for the most part is relatively the same group of guys who took the Steelers to the Super Bowl a year ago, is just so awful and so outmatched the same way I can’t believe our defense, who is essentially the exact same squad that was the #2 ranked defense in the league a year ago is old and also outmatched. 

These are fixable issues.  I go back and forth on which is more important to fix, the O-line or the defense.  First and foremost, for Ben’s safety and health, the offensive line needs to protect him better.  Ben isn’t doing them any favors by holding onto the ball as long as he does.  We all love it when he wiggles his way out of a sack and throws downfield for a big gain, but he makes like 1 of those plays a game compared to the 3.5 sacks he is averaging so far this season.  As much as they need to step up and hold their blocks, Ben needs to realize he doesn’t have the protection to be able to run around and wait for a play to develop. 

As far as the run defense and lack of take aways, these are fundamental issues the Steelers are getting beat on, just like Tomlin said.  Tackling and blocking.  They aren’t tackling great, and we’ve seen piss-poor tackling across the league so far this season.  Also, they aren’t getting out of their blocks fast enough.  This defense struck fear in the faces of offenses across the league just a season ago.  I refuse to accept that they’ve somehow aged so extremely between then and now.  If the defense can turn it around and go back to the domination we all know and love, the offensive woes might not seem so bad.  Last night against the Jets, Joe Flacco did his best Trent Dilfer impersonation playing sub-par behind a stellar defensive and special teams performance. 

Is success on the defense the key to turning the Steelers around? Image courtesy yahoosports.com

What is important to remember is this is what the Steelers are putting on film for their opponents to study.  The oppenents we face now can see clearly how to run the ball effectively against our defense and how to continually get to our quarterback.  If these fundamental issues aren’t fixed, this is what we’ll be seeing for the next 3 months.  The only reason worth panicking is the losing of AFC games.  The Steelers cannot put themselves in a hole in the AFC like they did in 2009.  Lose too many conference games and it doesn’t matter how much you want to be in the playoffs, you won’t get in. 

I’m not willing to subsribe to the fire Bruce Arians, resign Flozell and Max Starks, and force LeBeau into retirement sentiment that I saw all over Twitter yesterday afternoon.  The Steelers have little to no room left under the salary cap and Adams and Starks aren’t signing for league minimum salaries, it just isn’t happening.  Arians and LeBeau aren’t the ones out there missing tackles and not holding their blocks.  Thankfully, this is a team that does not point fingers, no one goes into the locker room and starts calling other people out.  This is a team that wins together and loses together.  I predict the Steelers turn it around and more wins are coming our way.  Bring it on Week 5!

Follow me on Twitter @Kimmy_KimKimM

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  • BarbaraFairMyers

    Good points for sure. Go Steelers!

  • BarbaraFairMyers

    Good points for sure. Go Steelers!

  • ZimmersHole

    I’ll give Arians the benefit of the doubt when: a) he has a real O.L. (not likely) b)so then he can incorporate & execute a proper no-huddle and 3-step release attacks; but I’m not holding my breath.

    Yes, Flo & starks ane not the answer, but at least Flozell would be a better “upgrade” at G or LT.

    gosh, Is Wooldey overrated or what? As some of you, I’m still baffled as why the F.O. won’t invest in the O.L. yet burning loads of cash on this sack of potatoes.

    Smith & Farrior are past their prime. It’s time to move on. They’re dragging this D.

    Start Lewis over Gay, ’nuff said. Coach Tomlin needs to put his stubborness aside and take a look at the big picture of this team.

    Cheers.

  • ZimmersHole

    I’ll give Arians the benefit of the doubt when: a) he has a real O.L. (not likely) b)so then he can incorporate & execute a proper no-huddle and 3-step release attacks; but I’m not holding my breath.

    Yes, Flo & starks ane not the answer, but at least Flozell would be a better “upgrade” at G or LT.

    gosh, Is Wooldey overrated or what? As some of you, I’m still baffled as why the F.O. won’t invest in the O.L. yet burning loads of cash on this sack of potatoes.

    Smith & Farrior are past their prime. It’s time to move on. They’re dragging this D.

    Start Lewis over Gay, ’nuff said. Coach Tomlin needs to put his stubborness aside and take a look at the big picture of this team.

    Cheers.

  • Kimmy

    @ZimmersHole Like I said, I’m not ready to give up or accept that all these problems can only be fixed with different players. These arent bad football players on the o-line or defense, they are good players playing badly which means the season is not yet lost. You have some very valid points. Thank you for your comment.

  • Kimmy

    @ZimmersHole Like I said, I’m not ready to give up or accept that all these problems can only be fixed with different players. These arent bad football players on the o-line or defense, they are good players playing badly which means the season is not yet lost. You have some very valid points. Thank you for your comment.

  • DomDiTolla

    @Kimmy@ZimmersHole I’d give Arians a small amount of leeway because of the O Line, but then I’d be ignoring the entire issue at hand. When he’s dialing up 5-7 step drops for Ben all the time, I don’t know why he thinks the O-Line can sustain pass protection for that long and wonder what the Hell the dude is smoking. Arians knows how terrible his O-Line is and he has known that for 4 years straight. Yet he hasn’t consistently called plays (especially passing plays) to help the poor bastards with their pass protection.

    Also, that 3rd and 2 Draw from the Shotgun that was stuffed and caused the Steelers to kick a Field Goal and swing momentum the other way had to have been one of the most asinine, drive-killing plays of his tenure. That’s almost in the same ball park as the moronic 3rd and 6 bootleg in the 2007 Wild Card Game against Jacksonville, or that QB draw he called from the 5 yard line in Super Bowl XLIII that limited the Steelers to another Field Goal after getting the ball inside the 10 yard line.

  • DomDiTolla

    @Kimmy@ZimmersHole I’d give Arians a small amount of leeway because of the O Line, but then I’d be ignoring the entire issue at hand. When he’s dialing up 5-7 step drops for Ben all the time, I don’t know why he thinks the O-Line can sustain pass protection for that long and wonder what the Hell the dude is smoking. Arians knows how terrible his O-Line is and he has known that for 4 years straight. Yet he hasn’t consistently called plays (especially passing plays) to help the poor bastards with their pass protection.

    Also, that 3rd and 2 Draw from the Shotgun that was stuffed and caused the Steelers to kick a Field Goal and swing momentum the other way had to have been one of the most asinine, drive-killing plays of his tenure. That’s almost in the same ball park as the moronic 3rd and 6 bootleg in the 2007 Wild Card Game against Jacksonville, or that QB draw he called from the 5 yard line in Super Bowl XLIII that limited the Steelers to another Field Goal after getting the ball inside the 10 yard line.

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  • ToddWilliams

    I agree with Zimmers…it would be an anomaly for Arians to call a quick-developing pass play. Seriously, it’s like he’s in denial that Ben has no time to throw the ball. Get someone in the flat to get LBs to back off, dump off screens, whatever you have to do! I just don’t understand why we’re bumbling our way through offensive drives trying the same old crap each time. Every time it seems we run on first down, run on second down, deep pass on 3rd down with an all out blitz. Where are the hot reads? It’s so rare to see the (old) Colts or Patriots not accounting for a blitz…yet we stubbornly try to run 3 deep against an all out blitz time and time again…mind boggling.

  • ToddWilliams

    I agree with Zimmers…it would be an anomaly for Arians to call a quick-developing pass play. Seriously, it’s like he’s in denial that Ben has no time to throw the ball. Get someone in the flat to get LBs to back off, dump off screens, whatever you have to do! I just don’t understand why we’re bumbling our way through offensive drives trying the same old crap each time. Every time it seems we run on first down, run on second down, deep pass on 3rd down with an all out blitz. Where are the hot reads? It’s so rare to see the (old) Colts or Patriots not accounting for a blitz…yet we stubbornly try to run 3 deep against an all out blitz time and time again…mind boggling.

  • Kimmy

    @ToddWilliams

    The offense doesn’t seem to be on the same page with itself at all so far this season. I think it’s all of it, Arians, Ben holding the ball too long, the o-line not holding their blocks. Also looks like I was wrong about there being no chance Starks comes back. It’s being reported the Steelers are close to signing him. I also read that they have $750,000 left under the salary cap for this year.

  • Kimmy

    @ToddWilliams

    The offense doesn’t seem to be on the same page with itself at all so far this season. I think it’s all of it, Arians, Ben holding the ball too long, the o-line not holding their blocks. Also looks like I was wrong about there being no chance Starks comes back. It’s being reported the Steelers are close to signing him. I also read that they have $750,000 left under the salary cap for this year.