Call it what you want, but the Pittsburgh Steelers currently sit as a 2-2 football team and should feel quite fortunate to be there.
However, they don’t have the look of a contending team, mostly based on the fact that through four games, they continue to shoot themselves in the foot over and over again.
The Steelers currently rank sixth in the NFL in the amount of penalties called on them with 37, but the five teams ahead of them have played five games, while the Steelers have only played four. They also rank sixth in penalty yardage (346), but again they have played one less game than the other five teams.
If you average everything out, the Steelers are the most penalized team in the league.
This isn’t a case of the Steelers being signaled out by the officials, rather it’s a case of them being a reckless and undisciplined football team and that is something that has to stop.
“We have a desire to play within the rules,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “We also have a desire to increase our chances of winning and when you’re picking up 30 yards in penalties in one drive, that’s going to give people an opportunity to score. Obviously, we’re trying to rectify those things. I’m less concerned about judgments and interpretations and so forth and I’m more concerned about playing in the manner that the flags stay in the pocket.”
Just to judge how bad the problem with penalties are, the Steelers 346 penalty yards are more than the 331 rushing yards they have gained on the season.
Most of the penalties are uncalled for, either presnap penalties or defenders playing recklessly and leading with their head. Tomlin’s a spokesman for the UPMC-Steelers campaign to educate football players dubbed “Don’t Hit The Head, Don’t Use The Head,” but his players don’t seem to get the message.
So far, here’s the breakdown of the penalties called on this team: two delay of game, eight false starts, nine offensive holding, two defensive holding, six pass interference, two personal fouls, one unnecessary roughness and seven of other variety. That’s just the penalties that have been accepted.
“What needs to disappear and it didn’t disappear [Sunday] are some of the presnap penalties, illegal formations and false starts,” Tomlin said Monday. “Those are self-inflicted wounds. We won’t tolerate that. We cannot tolerate that. It’s my job to get them fixed. We will work on it this week.
This team is not good enough to win while continuing to shoot themselves in the foot. If they remain undisciplined, it could turn into a long season.
The good news though is that the Steelers get the opportunity to begin cleaning things up Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans.
As big as a problem as the rushing game and the defensive have been through the first quarter of the season, the penalties are just as big of an issue.