The delirious frenzy for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ home opener quickly turned into a sobering cry for reality as the Steelers suffered an epic embarrassment at the hands of the lowly Tennessee Titans. It was a defeat reminiscent of last year’s failure to cover up an offense that still seems to be running in reverse.
Sure, the loss of an All-Pro center and team captain early in the opener would affect any team, but to the tune of just 195 yards of net offense after four quarters of professional football? Or a quarterback stat line of 21 of 33 for 191 yards, one touchdown, one pick and five sacks?
Let’s not spend another season giving excuses to the Steelers offense.
We all fell for the “new offensive coordinator/scheme….not on the same page…injuries producing poor play” reasons as to why the Steelers offense was just 23rd in the league in 2012. But a year later, we are to choke down another dish of lame excuses regarding new system, new players, new injuries as the reason why the Steelers had 32 TOTAL rushing yards for the entire game?
Look around the league. The Steelers aren’t the only group with young players on the offensive line protecting their mobile star quarterback. In fact, one of the league’s top offensive teams, the San Francisco 49ers, also field an O-line with a couple of recent first-round draft picks, an undrafted guard and a fifth round center.
Niners quarterback Colin Kaepernick didn’t seem to have too many issues in Week 1, hitting for three TDs and 412 yards (with just six more throws than Ben Roethlisberger) against the mighty Green Bay Packers — a defense far more dangerous than the Tennessee Titans. The 49ers’ run game may have struggled; yet, they were still went 34 carries for 90 rushing yards. Oh, and the 49ers also won.
Or did you happen to watch the Steelers’ upcoming Monday Night Football opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals, lose to the Chicago Bears? What you didn’t see was the Bears having difficulties executing a brand-new offensive scheme instituted by their new head coach Marc Trestman, a scheme that was played out by a couple holdover lineman from the one of 2012’s worst O-lines – and a right side made in this year’s draft (RG Kyle Long, first round and RT Jordan Mills, fifth round).
Quarterback Jay Cutler, who is not in the same sphere as Steelers mega-star Roethlisberger, beat the Bengals by completing 21 of 33 for 242 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and zero sacks. The Bengals were No. 3 in sacks last season. How can the Steelers continue to provide “we just need time to gel” statements while other teams are getting it done with less system experience?
It’s time to stop the excuse buffet and cut the fat: the vanilla formations, repetition of the dink-and-dunk screens, too many plays executed in front of the end zone rather than in it, no running game, no running back, no play action, poor blocking execution whatever the scheme, and utilizing all of the talent at WR.
It’s time for Mike Tomlin to get what he saw from offensive coordinator Todd Haley in Arizona or his mega-star QB is going to be watching the season standing next to Maurkice Pouncey.
It’s also time for Haley’s sidekick, offensive line coach Jack Bicknell, Jr., to get to work or get out the way. A line made of two second-round picks, a first-round pick and a two-year starter can’t really be as awful as they played on Sunday. No more excuses.