This week Ben Roethlisberger came out and said he wished to utilize the “no-huddle” offense more in games, whether or not the Steelers are playing from behind or on the road. Ben admitted that Arians doesn’t particularly enjoy running the no-huddle on the road because it’s difficult for everyone to hear the signals because of the crowd noise. It’s also obvious that an offensive coordinator isn’t the biggest fan of a no-huddle offense because the majority of the play calling then lies in the hands of the quarterback. Still, Ben thinks the offense has the weapons and the chemistry to pull it off successfully, and is hoping to get his wish in Arizona this Sunday. This got me thinking about my wish list as a Steeler fan and the things I’m hoping to see from the team for the remainder of the season. I know it’s a little early for Christmas, but if I was sitting on the fat man’s lap, here’s what I would ask for.
The Steelers are at the bottom of the NFL right now with a whopping 2 takeaways so far this year. The first game against Indy with Polamalu’s fumble recovery and the other was Woodley’s interception of Matt Shaub in Houston. Not characteristic of a defense with such a tradition of creating turnovers and controlling the game. A lot of turnovers are caused by mistakes from the offense, the quarterback throws to the wrong spot or the receiver runs the wrong rout and the defense is right there reading it to capitalize. Have we played such good teams that those mistakes just aren’t happening in games? Or are the Steelers defense not reading the offense to sniff out those plays to cause those mistakes? The Steelers defense is ranked overall #1 through six games but dead last in takeaways. Clearly takeaways aren’t necessary all the time to put W’s on the board, but as Tomlin puts it, “We just need some of those signature type plays that will make the ends of games more comfortable.”
Last week’s ending at home against Jacksonville left a lot to be desired to say the least. The Steelers failed to score a single point in the second half of the game. The most frustrating was the fact that the Jagoffs had the ball back at the end of the game with a chance. The offense failing to secure the first down in their last drive that would have sealed the win, giving the Jags the ball back with 1:01 left on the clock makes you want to pull your hair out. The Steelers pulled out to a 17-0 lead in the first half and then allowed the Jags a chance to win the game in the end. It’s kind of like slamming the door shut in an argument but then going back into the room only minutes later because you forgot you needed something in there. You lost all the “finality” of the door slamming. Awful flashbacks of 2009 came rushing in my head as that was the year the Steelers couldn’t hold a 4th quarter lead to save their friggin lives. I wish for when the offense has the lead late in the game, they put the game out of reach.
Continued Success in both the Pass and Run Defense
I don’t know where it came from or if it’s going to last through New England and the rematch with Baltimore, but I’m very pleased with the pass defense. I don’t want the pass defense to be successful at the expense of the run defense, however. It really doesn’t matter to me how little Ike Taylor is getting thrown to if teams are regularly rushing over a hundred yards against our defense. Like I said earlier, the defense is ranked #1 overall through six games so they must be doing something right at this point and this is by no means a complaint, it’s a wish list. I wish for a stout run defense as well as a stingy pass defense with a shut-down corner like Ike Taylor. It’s not too greedy to wish for both is it?
Consistent Running Game
Rashard Mendenhall quieted all the critics asking for him to lose his starting job after putting up 146 rushing yards and one of his best rushing performances of his career so far. Mendenhall gained 113 of those yards in the first half of the game. He, along with the rest of the Steelers offense, stalled in the second half against Jacksonville. Also included in the 146 yards Mendy accumulated on Sunday was a 68 yard run. It’s not time yet to pop the cork on the champagne (or pull the tab on the can of Iron City, whatever your preference) that our running game is back. Although, the past two games have included runs of 71 and 68 yards respectively, a more balance rushing attack would be a heck of a lot better than crossing your fingers each week hoping that someone breaks through for 50+ yards.
While I’m at it I might as well put a win against Arizona, New England, and Baltimore on this wish list. No sense in leaving those out. I’d also like to see Mike Tomlin close-line Bill Belichick at their post-game hand shake, just for funzies.
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