During the football season, news for a team slows down during the bye week and if the team does not have a winning record by that week, fans start to reflect on how to “fix” the team. I am no different, particularly because of last season’s disappointing end. So, in my arm-chair “I know more than the owners/coaches” mode, I ponder the solution. I think the players are working hard. I don’t think there are toxic personalities tearing the team cohesiveness apart. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
The Steelers may not be exactly broken but something doesn’t feel right. There certainly are a lot of articles that accurately point out a lot of concerns. Players don’t trust LeBeau, the defense is not performing as it should, the running game is abysmal, the defense is aging, and so on. OK, all valid points. What now? In my opinion, I think the joy and camaraderie among the team are missing. They don’t seem to be having fun. Maybe I’m the one missing it and I realize that with two losses, there isn’t much for them to cheer about. Still, the Steeler family atmosphere seemed low during the preseason. Yes, the Call Me Maybe parody video looked like fun, but then DeCastro’s injury took the wind out of their sails. Did the Wallace hold-out affect the offense’s cohesion more than estimated? Has the new offensive coach and the new system taken a toll? Are the Steelers in a defensive rut?
I have nothing but respect for Coach Mike Tomlin and Coach Dick LeBeau. I’ll admit that I haven’t made my mind up about Coach Todd Haley. I was shocked when he was hired. I was unimpressed by his short stint as a head coach at Kansas City. I trust the Steeler organization to have the best interests of the franchise at heart, so I went looking into his career to find what stood out to attract the Steelers and was impressed by his time with the Arizona Cardinals. However, does he have the trust of the offensive players yet? I also looked at the number of defensive veterans that the Steelers released, including James Farrior and I always thought people underestimated his leadership on the defense. So, before the Steelers’ season began I personally concluded that the Steelers might have a mediocre year.
Now, I wonder if more change will be needed. There is something to be said for consistency and experience. However, do the Steelers need to look at more personnel changes soon? The fourth quarter implosions make one wonder if the defense is not adapting during the game. Stagnation can hurt a team just as much as not having playmakers. Polamalu is an explosive player and the defense counts on his ability to get around the field and make unexpected plays. Yet, that style of play is physically demanding and his injuries over the last couple of years may mean the defense has to adjust. Harrison’s knee injury may plague him all season. But, this is the same song and dance: “we need to get healthy.” Well, what’s it going to take? I’m not going to start beating the drum that it’s time for LeBeau to move on, but if the defense continues to falter then the Steelers are going to have to find a way to get out of the rut.