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Steelers at the Crossroads; Is the 2016 Season Slipping Away After Three Straight Losses

Ben Roethlisberger

October 15th the Steelers looked like a team that had Super Bowl dreams and one that at the time could back up with the talk with what was to date a 4-1 record with just one slip up at the time to the Philadelphia Eagles.

They had after the loss to the Eagles pounded the Chiefs at home on a rainy Sunday night and dispatched the New York Jets at Heinz Field, and things for the team were sailing smoothly.

Then, a game against the Miami Dolphins took place, and just like that, it seems the 2016 season was thrown up in flames.

The team lost their franchise quarterback, even if it was just for two games, and add to that the fact they seemed to lose their way and their swagger.

They haven’t won since, and less than one month than it looked like they were a top contender in the AFC, they not only have lost their way but don’t even lead their own division, tied with the Ravens who just beat them 21-14 in Baltimore Sunday.

Now, with a home game against the 7-1 Dallas Cowboys Sunday at home, the 2016 season is clearly on the brink, and there’s a lot of concern of the wheels totally coming off if the team can’t find a way to stop a Dallas team that is on a roll with seven straight victories.

Mike Tomlin’s era as head coach of this franchise has had moments of despair, but it feels like no moment since he took over in 2007 feels as unpredictable as this one.

On one hand, playing at home has always been the Steelers formula for getting back on track, but this team as of late has had so many issues, just assuming because they are playing at home as the turnaround is right now not logical.

They have an offense that can’t for whatever reason run the ball, even with Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams, they can’t develop anyone other than Antonio Brown to catch the ball at wide out, and their quarterback less than a month from surgery just didn’t look right Sunday.

Then there’s a defense that while they played well on Sunday allowing just one touchdown and two field goals, they also allowed a 95-yard touchdown that they should still to this day be utterly embarrassed about.

Their first-round pick, corner Artie Burns, was burned by former Steelers wide out Mike Wallace, and then to add insult to injury, Mike Mitchell, he of usual celebrations after every play he may make, didn’t show much effort as he failed to tackle Wallace, and allowed him to race the distance to give the Ravens the lead at the time.

The rest of the day Sunday the Steelers D did a nice job, but they were not able to do enough to turn the game around, like get a game changing turnover.

Then there was the special teams, which allowed a blocked punt for a score to make it 21-0, and then Chris Boswell’s comedic attempt at an onside kick late in the game ended an all around laughable effort.

It was the type of effort that sadly Tomlin teams on the road has seen more than once. The Steelers have been flat out awful against under .500 teams on the road with Tomlin, and it gets more and more frustrating with each loss.

Even a win Sunday against the Cowboys may not be enough to get this season turned around. Sure the team will travel to Cleveland to play the currently winless Browns the following week, but then have a short turnaround against a Colts team on Thanksgiving that is exactly the type of trap games that Tomlin teams have become known to lose.

Until this offense gets back on track, running the football, and finding someone other than Brown to catch passes, they may not be all that much better than they showed Sunday.

The team has averaged 34 points per game in wins this season, putting up 136 points. In the four losses – 12 points per game, scoring just 48 points in the four setbacks.

Guessing how this season will go is like guessing the outcome of a slot machine at places like

The pressure is on the coaching staff and this group of players to not let this season slip away. Right now the 2016 Steelers are in critical condition.

A loss Sunday and they may be on life support, a win, and hopefully they will start to come out the coma they look like they have been in the last three weeks.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. DrGeorge

    November 9, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Immediately after the draft and again before the preseason, I argued that the Steelers had not added enough talent to rise above the mediocrity of the previous seasons. Last year, when we backed into the playoffs, we were a mediocre team that lucked into the last AFC slot (our 10-6 record tied with the Jets) when the Ravens unexpectedly lost their final game against Cincinnati. Today, in 2016, with a 4-4 record, we remain a mediocre team, and played last Sunday like a team backing into oblivion.

    The reason for this dismal situation remains the one I emphasized before: money. We pay too much money to a few stars and make do with second rate players on the offensive and defensive lines and the defensive secondary. Bad decision. Football success begins with the lines who make the skill players look good. The Steelers have chosen instead to pay for flash and the killer Bs. We have “an offense that can’t for whatever reason run the ball” as Matt Loede writes above. Well, this is the reason. And it is the same reason we cannot stop opposing offenses.

    The Steelers are not alone in their folly. Look at Seattle, a Super Bowl club, that overpaid Russell Wilson and immediately sacrificed the defensive talent that made it a winner and now struggles to beat average teams. Ditto the Panthers with Cam Newton and Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers. Now, compare those teams with the Denver Broncos or the Dallas Cowboys who are winning with young (cheap) QBs, dominant O-lines, and superior defenses. The current collective bargaining agreement penalizes teams who stockpile (and overpay for) veteran talent; it rewards those who identify and develop young (cheap) talent. New England, Denver, and Dallas have mastered this calculus; the Steelers have yet to figure it out.

  2. Jay

    November 9, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    I opine that there is sufficient talent on both sides: two first rounders and a second rounder on the o line (all of whom are getting paid big bucks by the way), an elite QB, elite rb, elite wr. That should be enough to be consistently putting up points in this league. On defense there are four first rounders in the line backing corps and one first a second and a third in the defensive line, the secondary has one first, a second (who admittedly hasn’t played yet), and a second round safety. Now, injuries and inexperience have mitigated much of the defensive impactfulness AND one might counter opine that just because there are all these high round picks that hat doesn’t mean there is talent. I beg to differ if for no other reason than Colbert CANNOT POSSIBLY HAVE WHIFFED ON THIS MUCH TALENT!!!!!!!! One or two or three picks maybe but not entire retooled defensive units!!!!! Why does no one want to point the finger where it belongs which is at the inept, rhetoric spewing coach who NEVER seems to have his team prepared, doesn’t teach worth a lick and now has prominent national media personalities, Colin Cowherd, ripping him and calling him, “not a good coach!” I’m at the point that if we win, it is in spite of him, merely serves to stay his miserable execution and prolongs the mediocrity! I’d rather trash the season at this point and start from scratch while our “overpaid” QB still has a few years left.

  3. Dave B.

    November 9, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    There are pros and cons to both sides of this arguement . Talent evaluation by the scouts and front office has been a problem with this team for the better part of ten years . Jarvis Jones is a perfect example . This kid at the very best was a second round pick . I couldnt care less what he did in college . It was obvious he was spindly and undersized in his upper body coming out of college . Bottom line , he was a project . That however is not the way the Steelers viewed him and today they are paying for it dearly . With that being said , they’re is still enough talent on this team with Roethlisberger , Bell , Brown , Pouncey , DeCastro , Cameron Heyward and Shazier . These are pro bowl caliber players that other teams would kill to have . Bottom line , the results should be better than they are and they arent . If the cabinet was bare , then you cant lay it all at the coaches doorstep , but in the Steelers case , the cabinet is no where near bare . They are under achieveing big time and have been for several years now . Mike Tomlin is working for an organization that has had three head coaches since 1969 . The Steelers have the longest leash in pro sports when it comes to head coaches and Tomlin knows it well . If this were any other NFL team , Tomlin would have been put on notice at least a year or two ago . Those are the cold hard facts .

  4. Jay

    November 10, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    Straight up and thank you, Dave B.

  5. Jay

    November 10, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Straight up and thank you, Dave B. By the way, that picture up top there with coach harbaugh and big ben really says a lot. It certainly looks like the half smirk, somewhat consolatory smug look on Harbaugh’s face is saying something to the effect of, “Gee, whiz, kid, I’m really sorry you play for a suck coach like that. a shame, real shame.”

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