I was met with some criticism last week when I declared that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense deserved their fair share of blame for the team’s 0-3 start to the 2013 regular season. Unfortunately, the collective performance of Pittsburgh’s defense in today’s 34-27 loss to Vikings did little to sway me on my staunch position.
Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at what happened this afternoon:
- Matt Cassel, who made his first start of the year, picked apart Pittsburgh’s secondary to the tune of 248 passing yards. Did I mention that Cassel went 15 for 26 and threw two touchdowns to Greg Jennings as well? Cassel, like other quarterbacks in the league, are simply content to pick apart Dick LeBeau’s soft-zone defense.
- Jerome Simpson burned Pittsburgh’s secondary for seven catches for 124 yards! Jerome Simpson, not Larry Fitzgerald!
- Adrian Peterson destroyed the Steelers on the ground for 140 yards on 23 carries. No defense at any level can succeed when they allow 6.1 yards per carry.
- Pittsburgh’s defense failed to force a turnover. That’s the sixteenth consecutive takeaway-less quarter this year!
- Ike Taylor dropped two interceptions, the first of which was a “cake-easy” pop fly on the opening drive.
- I wish I could count the exact number of missed tackles I saw, but the worst offenses happened on Greg Jennings’ catch and run for 70 yards for a touchdown and Peterson’s touchdown jaunt of 60 yards. On each play there were at least five Steelers who failed to wrap up the ball-carrier.
- Pittsburgh’s defense only sacked Cassel once during the entire game.
Look, I will be the first to admit that Pittsburgh’s offense and special teams units deserve their fair share of blame for the team’s 0-4 start. Yet I am not giving a free pass for the pathetic play put on display by the Steelers’ defense so far this year. They have lost to and been picked apart by “juggernaut” signal-callers like Jake Locker, Andy Dalton, and Cassel so far this year, and things will only get worse unless the necessary changes and adjustments are made to the scheme, personnel, and coaching staff.
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