The Steelers remain for the most part stunned over their severe letdown vs the Chargers on Sunday. The team was never in the game, and at one point trailed by 24.
This to a team that had nothing to play for, and their only win in the last two months was against the Chiefs.
Today, with the team starting to turn the page to the Cowboys, let’s take a look at five observations about this team with three games left and a playoff birth still (somehow) in their hands.
1. How Much is This on Tomlin? – It seemed like on here as well as on our Facebook page that the ‘in’ thing to do was to put a lot of the blame for Sunday on Mike Tomlin and the coaching staff. I get it, I just don’t agree with it. So what your saying is the same coaching staff that lifted this team up 7 days before in a huge win over the Ravens is the same that suddenly forgot how to coach vs the Chargers? It always the easy thing to do to blame the coach and staff after a game like Sunday.
Before you go slamming Tomlin and Co., remember this – they were not the ones that dropped a pair of important passes in the second quarter, and they were not on the field when the big bad Steelers D allowed a back-breaking 17-play drive to start the second half.
2. Has the D Tired Out? - I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a Steelers D so lacking energy as they were on Sunday at home. The numbers speak for themselves, and anyone who watched the game in full had to be as frustrated as I was with the way things went for the supposed #1 defense. How about third down conversions – the Bolts converted 12-of-22, and it seemed like a broken record – make plays on first and second down, then give up a third down play to give San Diego a first down.
I know the team is hurting without Ike Taylor, but the lack of a pass rush the past couple of weeks has been disturbing. Sure there were plays they got in on Philip Rivers, but they were unable to get him down or make a play. Some of this does fall on Dick LeBeau to put players in better positions to make plays. Then again, how about guys like Cameron Heyward and Ziggy Hood, who former #1 picks, make some plays?
3. It’s too Late to Fix the Run Game – Every few weeks it seems the run game shows up, but let’s be honest. This unit has been a letdown this season after all we heard all offseason was how much better they would be. Issac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and Rashard Mendenhall have all had moments, but for the most part have never been able to show enough to earn the undisputed number one job. If it means that for now, the run game has to complement the pass game – so be it.
Nevertheless, it should be an interesting offseason as the team has major decisions to make with the running backs. Mendenhall is as good as gone, but I wouldn’t roll out the money bags and red carpet for Dwyer and/or Redmen just yet.
4. Care to Predict? – We threw this on our Facebook page late Sunday, and I think it bears mentioning once again – 6 Losses – only two to teams with winning records. 4 Losses to teams that are a combined 17-35. 4 Wins over teams .500. 5 Wins to teams that are a combined 37-28.
The numbers point to a few conclusions: The Steelers of 2012 play DOWN to the competition. Good news – only two quality teams they have lost to is Denver and Baltimore. The team plays a 7-6 Cowboys team on the road Sunday, followed by a 7-6 Bengals team, then a 5-8 Cleveland team that has won three in a row. To me, sets up pretty well for a team that has played very much down to teams this season.
5. There’s some Good News in All This – Look at what the Steelers have done after losses to those less than stellar teams out there – after the Raiders loss – a win over the Eagles. After the loss to the Titans – a four-game winning streak. After the Cleveland loss – a win in Baltimore. After the San Diego loss – that remains to be seen, but one would think that their game vs the Cowboys will define their season. Let’s see what happens, though I do like their odds based on the inconsistency of the Cowboys this season as well.