Ben Roethlisberger was blunt when he assessed his team after they dropped to 0-4 over the weekend. Pittsburgh’s signal-caller even uttered the following in an interview after the game:
Right now, you could say we’re the worst team in the league, … That hurts.
Granted, I personally do not think that the Steelers are the absolute “worst” team in the NFL, as that honor is reserved for the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars. I will however say that they definitely rank in the bottom five according to the way they have collectively played through the first four weeks of the 2013 campaign.
Don’t believe me? Let’s just take a look at the 2013 Steelers and their awesomeness:
Issues on Defense
As far as Pittsburgh’s defense is concerned, their collective performance has been nothing short of pathetic.
Quarterbacks seem to have no trouble deciphering Dick LeBeau’s supposedly “complicated” defensive schemes and blitz packages, and they are more than willing to dink-and-dunk their way down the field (21stin QB rating 91.4). They know that six yards on first down is a “win” for their offense, and that LeBeau is unwilling to scheme to stop them.
I will say that a big reason behind opposing team’s success in the passing game has been the unit’s inability to stop the run.
At the moment, Pittsburgh’s defense ranks 29th in rushing yards allowed (491), and have yet to limit an opponent to under 100 collective yards rushing in a single game. In addition, Pittsburgh’s defense has allowed a league-high six rushing touchdowns via the ground.
Of course, Pittsburgh’s inability to create pocket collapse on a consistent basis and force any turnovers makes them arguably the worst defense in the league. Overall, the Steelers rank tied for last in the league with four sacks, and are dead last in turnovers forced with zero!
While many in the media have given Pittsburgh’s defense a “free pass,” most of the vitriol and criticism have been directed towards the offense.
Through four games, the Steelers’ offense has committed 11 turnovers, eight of which have come from Ben Roethlisberger. Then again, it’s hard to blame “Big Ben” for some of those giveaways, particularly since he plays behind the worst offensive line in professional football. Pittsburgh has allowed the fourth most sacks in the league (15), and Roethlisberger has been running for his life on a weekly basis.
The offensive line’s problems have not been relegated to pass-blocking though. At the moment, Pittsburgh ranks 29th in rushing yards per game (58.0) and nobody on the team recorded a rushing touchdown during the 2013 campaign until last week.
The issues with the offensive line and the running game have not helped the Steelers put up many points either, and Pittsburgh currently ranks 25th in the league with 17.3 points per game.
Due to poor play-calling from Todd Haley and poor execution by the personnel, Pittsburgh’s offense has been unable move the ball consistently or capitalize on red zone opportunities. To be fair though, this offense has zero chance to win the field position battle in any game if their defense cannot force turnovers or set up short fields for them to work with.
At 0-4, the Steelers are what their record says they are: a garbage football team.
While they might not be the “worst,” one could make a very strong argument that they are in the running to take that dubious crown if their aforementioned issues continue to plague them.
This team has 12 games to salvage their season and make themselves look respectable, and they have a bye week to try and solve as many problems as they possibly can. While these are not “quick-fix” problems facing the Steelers, they have to at least improve in some of these areas if they wish to stay out of the AFC North cellar.
Unfortunately, I think this team will not only be AFC North “cellar-dwellers” when this season comes to a close, but NFL “cellar-dwellers” with the vast amounts of issues they currently have to fix.
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