A great deal has been made of the Steelers first preseason game, as many called it a mixed bag. I think that’s pretty consistent for most teams, since regardless of their talent makeup they are learning to play together at game speed. So, I try not to judge the team too harshly about improvement. That being said, I think there are four things the Steelers need against the Bills.
Score a TD with the first team offense
Some will discount the importance of scoring in preseason. However, if an offense can get into rhythm during the preseason it sets the stage for the real games. Preseason defenses are as vanilla as you are going to see, and there is no reason if we have our things together we can’t put one in for six. When was the last time the first team offense scored an opening drive touchdown you ask? 2011. Coincidentally, that’s the last time the Steelers had a winning record and made the playoffs.
Play better team defense
Everyone has seen Rashard Jennings off to the races on the Giants first play of the second drive. Now I realize Lawrence Timmons was held, and guys like Polamalu and Shazier were absent. However, both Mike Mitchell and Will Allen missed the tackle by being out of position and taking horrible angles. This kind of play frustrated me to no end last season with Ryan Clark. This is exactly what Mitchell needs to be good at, and what we brought him here to do. Again, this was not some complex running play. It was an A-gap run right up the middle in which he had two full seconds to decide where to go and make a play.
Find an offensive No.2
There is no denying the Steelers have a gap in the skill position behind Antonio Brown. Did we find it in Dri Archer? Maybe, but I can’t really see him getting more than 6-8 opportunities a game. Also, he needs to keep his mouth shut. Touching the ball three times in a preseason game with one big play does not mean you have the skills to play in this league. Learn what it means to be a Steeler, which is going out, doing your job, and let your play do your talking.
Along the same theme as scoring, I feel like getting at least one win is important in the preseason. Since 2006, 17 teams have gone 0-fer in the preseason. Only four have had winning records in the corresponding regular season, and only three made the playoffs. It’s not a definitive stat, but it’s not encouraging either. We cannot start the season 0-8 (including preseason) like we did last year and expect to have a good chance of making the playoffs.
I really think they can do these things. Bottom line is the Steelers need to play as a team. If they can come together, and complete what I regard as a favorable schedule we can see the Black and Gold marching through the playoffs once again.