Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Blame Suisham All You Want, Inability to Capitalize on Turnovers and Poor Play-Calling More At Fault


Many will blame Shaun Suisham for Pittsburgh’s most recent loss, and I will admit that the Steelers’ kicker had an “off day.” The fact that the “Kicking Canuck” missed two field goals inside 40 yards, on the road, in a game in which Pittsburgh lost by three puts the target squarely on him for the loss.

I however cannot place the entirety of the loss on Suisham. Although he deserves some, there are other members of the team and the coaching staff who deserve just as much, if not more, of the blame as Pittsburgh’s kicker.

In fact, the poor play-calling and offensive strategy from Todd Haley, the inability of the offense to execute on third downs, and the utter incompetence exhibited by the offense when it came to capitalizing off of three turnovers were just as responsible for the Steelers dropping to 2-5 as Suisham is.


Poor Play-Calling

While I have not been a Todd Haley “supporter” during his year and a half in Pittsburgh, I have definitely given the guy the benefit of the doubt. After yesterday’s game though, I am absolutely disgusted with the Steelers’ offensive coordinator.

Down 21-3 for much of the game, how or why Haley wanted to continue to run the ball with Le’Veon Bell and Jonathan Dwyer made little to no sense. Pittsburgh needed points and to gobble chunks of yards as quickly as possible What compelled Haley to believe that his “slow as molasses” backs would be able to reach the second level of the defense behind an offensive line littered with backups puzzled me to no end.

Down by 18, Haley needed to put the ball in the hands of his Pro Bowl quarterback and have him win the day through the air. Although the pass-protection was spotty, wasting valuable time on a ground attack which averaged 1.8 yards per rush on Sunday was an utter and complete joke.

Moreover, how or why Haley did not utilize the no-huddle after the team fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter was a joke as well. Pittsburgh’s inconsistent offense has found success using that strategy this season, and to essentially ignore it until the end of the first half and towards the end of the game was absolutely maddening to watch.


Inability to Capitalize off of Turnovers

While Pittsburgh’s defense was far from perfect, they actually did more than enough when it came to forcing turnovers yesterday. After forcing only two through their first six games, the Steelers’ defense actually took the ball away three times against the Raiders.

Of course, as only the Steelers could, the offense “crapped the bed” when it came to capitalizing off of the important turnovers. Pittsburgh’s offense only netted 10 points off of their defense’s three takeaways!

Whether it was due to Suisham’s incompetence or the offense’s inability to move the ball in Oakland’s territory, 10 points is unacceptable. The fact that Haley didn’t even take shots into the end zone with his play-calling after the first two takeaways was maddening, and why the offense did not try to utilize Derek Moye’s height on jump-balls at the end of the first half was a joke as well.


Final Thoughts

Yesterday’s game was absolutely disgusting to watch, yet I for one will not pin the entirety of the loss on Suisham. I simply cannot do it when I consider the aforementioned issues which plagued Pittsburgh against Oakland, and have hurt the team all season long.

Of course, people can point fingers elsewhere as well. Mike Tomlin deserves his fair share of the blame for his team playing like uninspired garbage against an inferior foe for the “umpteenth” during his tenure, the clock “management” throughout the game was awful, “Mr. Stay Puft” Woodley had an awful game and did not log a single tackle, and Kelvin Beachum did not look like a starting caliber tackle.

Go ahead and blame Suisham all you want, readers. Just keep in mind that others performed “below the line” as well.




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Tags: Oakland Raiders Pittsburgh Steelers Shaun Suisham

  • Craig

    Here’s the thing. If Sushi made those kicks the game would have been closer -> 21-9 at the start of the fourth quarter. I don’t think the Raiders would have played any safe offense in the fourth if the score were different than 21-3. They ran McFadden twenty bajillion times up the middle for little to no gain how many times in that second half because they were just trying to milk the clock. If the stayed aggressive like they were in the first half, then the Steelers have no chance of coming back at all the way the defense played. Even Raiders fans on Twitter were peeved about their own offense’s play calling in the second half.

    With or without Sushi’s kicks – the Steelers were doomed as soon as Pryor broke through the second level and waved ‘buhbye’ to Ryan Clark on the first play from scrimmage.

    • Dom DiTolla

      I’m not absolving Suisham of blame, I just don’t feel like he should have had to attempt either of those kicks. Those bleeping drives stalled because of Haley’s piss-poor play-calling, the idea that a slow back like Bell can succeed behind a garbage offensive line, and the overall fact that they couldn’t capitalize on the turnovers.

      Suisham deserves his fair share of blame, but there is plenty more to go around for yesterday’s disaster.

      • Justin

        Agreed. He’s been money all season and it just so happened that yesterday was his off day. If we’re winning (or more likely, losing) games solely by our kicker, that’s not a good sign.

        • Dom DiTolla

          Exactly. If a team is solely relying on their kicker for points to extend leads and keep them in ball games, they will lose more than they win. Suisham deserves an “F” for his performance, I’m sure. Yet so does almost everybody on that roster.

  • Kimmy

    I’d like to know what kind of snacks the officials had stashed under the replay hood. Was it just me or did the reviews take a ridiculously long time yesterday?

  • Rick Aucoin

    Blaming the kicker is EASY though. Just like I read that Tomlin has Zoltan Mesko in the doghouse for shanking some punts this year.
    Hey, Coach, no one GIVES A DAMN about how much you’re holding the PUNTER accountable, when your star players aren’t performing and your team’s roster has been allowed to turn into the second coming of the Detroit Lions.
    And sure, it’ll be REAL easy today for fans (and coaches) to point the finger at Suisham, but damn, it’s not Suisham’s fault that the offense didn’t score touchdowns (or even seem to TRY to score touchdowns) in the redzone. It’s not his fault our team is one of the worst in the league in red zone production.
    And I’ve given Haley every benefit of the doubt. I hated Bubble Screen Arians and his mystifying playcalling, but we’re getting the same idiot screen passes behind the line of scrimmage when we need 8 yards on third down now that we got with Arian’s, so what’s the upgrade?
    Yesterday we got the ball with 2 minutes to go in the first half and possession around the 20. There’s enough time for a two minute drill drive down the field before the half. So what’s the first play Haley calls? A FRIGGIN RUN, UP THE MIDDLE.
    That’s not even TRYING to run a two minute drill.
    As soon as Haley called in that play, I lost any and all “benefit of the doubt” I could give him anymore.
    I don’t get it. Why has Big Ben had his entire career run by Offensive Coordinators who’d be challenged badly to win a game of Madden, much less call good games at the NFL level?
    Our O Line sucks. Everyone know this. So why are so many plays called that require time to develop? Why isn’t the playbook 90% fast slants and timing patterns?
    (I know, Ben’s accuracy sucks, it’s just how it is, but still, he either should learn how to throw a slant or keep practicing at it.)
    Haley lost me yesterday. And THAT isn’t Shawn Suisham’s fault either.

    • david

      Ditto I think you have just spoken for the Majority of Steeler Nation
      Haley has Got TO GO!!!!!!!

      • Rick Aucoin

        I don’t know. I find it hard to believe that a problem (ie: offensive play-calling and game management) that has been plaguing the Steelers since Chan Gailey left can be put at the feet of just Todd Haley. After all, it’s not Haley’s fault that Bruce Arian’s was a dip$hit with his endless screen pass calls when it’s 3rd and 7.
        Hell, I’m having a hard time blaming even the head coach, since it’s not on Tomlin that Bill Cowher brought Arian’s in in 2003.
        It’s not Tomlin’s fault that Gailey was allowed to leave, sealing the Curse of Death on Stewart’s QB career (remember Stewart’s performance in 97, Gailey’s last year with the team, 3,020 yards passing, 476 yards rushing, an acceptable but not great 75 QB rating, and a pro-bowl berth). Yes, Kordell Stewart, 3000+ yards passing in a season!
        Who’s fault is all this? Hell, we can’t even really blame Art III since his dad was still running the team when they hired Ray Sherman from the Vikings to take Gailey’s place as the offensive coordinator in 98, starting our run of really f’d up Offensive Coordinators that extends to this day.
        When the Steelers won their 5th ring, I swore that even if Ben stunk up the stadium for the next 10 years I’d be on his side, so grateful was I to see Mr. Rooney get to hold up that 5th Super Bowl trophy after all those years of chasing it.
        But DAMN it sure seems like our front office has really struggled for the last 15 years in a lot of ways.
        The team has had success, no doubt about it. And we’re spoiled as Steelers fans, no doubt about that either.
        But how hard is it to just hire an offensive coordinator who swears he’ll never call another screen pass targeted at a wide receiver who’s behind the line of scrimmage when it’s 3rd and 8 EVER AGAIN?

    • Jamie Morrow

      Ben’s accuracy is very good otherwise he would not be an elite quarterback. He is operating without a running game and a dreadful line. Take into account the drop passes he did good.

  • Rick Aucoin

    I’ve seen a LOT of comments here about “failure to capitalize on turnovers” as a problem in the Raiders game. I don’t get that.
    The Steelers had three turnovers go their way. They scored on two of them, one touchdown, one field goal. They failed to score on the third turnover.
    That’s not… horrible. Not really.
    It’s not great. Sure, we all want 21 points on three turnovers. But is that realistic?
    I don’t mean “Is that realistic for this mediocre offense” I mean is it realistic at all?
    How does Tom Brady’s Patriots do on scoring off turnovers? Some in depth reporting would maybe include some comparisons for us to see just how horrible (or not horrible) 10 points off three turnovers really is, instead of just stating it as horrible like it’s a foregone conclusion.

    • Jamie Morrow

      One of those turnover gave the Steelers the ball around the Oakland’s 10 yard line, so I would say they did pretty bad.

      • Rick Aucoin

        And what happened when the Steelers got the ball on the 10? Did the Steeler’s score on that turnover?
        Just saying “they got the ball at the ten once and only got 10 points on all three turnovers” doesn’t tell anyone anything.
        How does the league average do on turnovers? Is 10 points on three turnovers more or less than the league average?
        When they got the turnover on the 10, did they score? A field goal or a touchdown? How does THAT compare to other teams?
        Geez, people.

  • Redd Mahoney

    After an uninspired performance like yesterday….Can someone please explain to me how in the world this team has no salary cap space? I mean, just where is all of the Steelers high priced talent? EXACTLY!, some serious changes need to be made after this crap of a season! Being that the Rooney’s don’t like to bring in high priced talent….It’s gonna be a few more seasons of mediocrity if they insist on doing things the “Rooney Way” and waiting for good drafts to produce.

    • Dom DiTolla

      Two words… “LaMarr Woodley.” His current contract is an albatross on the team’s salary cap. Of course, I was warning people as far back as 2010 why they should have passed on an extension for him. That, along with Willie Colon’s 5-year $29 million deal, were the contracts which sent this team into the salary cap dumpster fire they are struggling to get out of now.

      • Redd Mahoney

        The Steelers asked James Harrison to take a pay cut after 2 sub par seasons. I am wondering why they did not make the same request to Woodley.

        • Dom DiTolla

          They did, and Woodley did. All of the money they allocated to him either as guaranteed signing bonuses over the next two years or was put into back loading his deal during the next three. He is set to make $8 million next year (base salary), $8.5 in 2015, and $9 in 2016.

  • Carl Eagan

    Suisham has been almost Mr. automatic for over a year and I think at least one of the holds were bad which puts the blame on the punter (again). Why complain about missed field goals though when the issue is the red zone offense sucks. We should be talking about touchdowns and not missed field goals.

  • Jamie Morrow

    Steelers lack innovation and leadership. I was thinking the same thing what the
    hell are they doing eating up the clock on their first possession of the second
    half and running on the last possession of the first half. Oakland was offering us opportunities to win despite our lousy play.
    Awful management of the clock, throwing away timeouts, and running when they
    should be passing. This ineptitude of not being able to score touchdowns has been
    going on for at least 3 years.


    If you going to blame anyone blame Mr. Rooney… He wanted Haley there in the first place. He got rid of Bruce Arians, Let Ken Wisenhunt leave..and Forced Tomlin into Hiring Haley in the first place. If you want to blame someone blame the right person. Mr. Rooney let Harrison, Wallace, Hampton, Farrior….should I continue?? This is not just a play calling problem but a whole team problem resorted by disruption of pieces. It will be sometime before the younger learn Steeler Football…but Blame the Right People first..