The offensive line has been the receiving the most blame for why the Pittsburgh Steelers are among the NFL’s worst teams. But it’s the way the 0-4 Steelers are allowing opposing to teams to get off to such a fast start that truly has been the hardest to overcome.
The Steelers are being outscored an astonishing 34-12 in the first quarter. They have yet to have the lead heading into the second half. Opposing teams have recorded four first quarter touchdowns against the once vaunted Steelers defense; meanwhile the Pittsburgh offense has just one first quarter score through four games.
Mike Adams’ poor performance has of course cut down the efficiency of the Steelers offense, but what about the toothless defense? There has been little sign of life from the formerly aggressive, run-stopping, feared group.
Outside of Troy Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley, which defensive player has made a difference through four games? Ike Taylor covered A.J. Green and Brandon Marshall as well as anyone could, but Taylor has also allowed too many first downs to happen in front of him when the Steelers have needed a stop. Also, his consistent poor receiving skills have nullified a handful of interceptions.
And then there is Ryan Clark. A candidate for MVP last season while Polamalu recovered from injury, Clark has had more highlights in his one appearance as an ESPN analyst than he has had in 16 quarters of football thus far this season.
The linebackers are possibly on track for their worst season ever under Dick LeBeau. It seems Larry Foote took teammate Lawrence Timmons’ playmaking skills with him to the injured resever. Timmons has not only failed to pressure the quarterback, he has been out of position and struggling to shed blocks. Timmons has not recorded a tackle for a loss this season.
Top-drafted rookie Jarvis Jones has had a few good moments against the run, yet his best film as a pass-rusher remains with him in a University of Georgia uniform. And we all continue to wait for Mike Tomlin’s hand-picked 2010 draftee, outside linebacker Jason Woirlds, to show up.
The Steelers will fly into the Big Apple this week to face a rookie quarterback in Geno Smith. Outside of the season opener against the Tampa Bay train wreck, Smith and the Jets have lost every game they were behind at half. Maybe the bye week will wake up LeBeau’s defense. If not, another sleepy first half will have Clark choking on his half-full cup of optimism.