Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
I’ll say it again, 0-3.
Pains you to read it, pains me to write it. By now every football fan who watched the Sunday night fiasco against the Bears may be realizing that the 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers are by most accounts done. Three games in and their season is done. While I’m still not ready to throw that last shovel of dirt on them, it’s pretty clear there are some MAJOR issues right now. Forget the fact that the offense turned the ball over five times, forget that there is little or no running game, forget that the fact that there is a reason Todd Haley was drummed out of KC (can’t coach??), forget it all. The issues with this team are so numerous, it’s tough to focus on just one aspect.
Yes, Antonio Brown had the game of his life and it was nice to see Heath Miller back in uniform. Yes, once again, STATISTICALLY speaking the Steeler D was very good, but folks, that’s about it. Right now the only way the Steeler defense could force a turnover is if they were playing the Steeler offense. I don’t care how many exotic blitzes Dick LeBeau can throw at an offense, they aren’t working. No turnovers, two sacks in three games. That’s the bottom line. Back in the summer I asked if LeBeau was a hindrance to the Steelers, mainly because his complex defense made it difficult for rookies to make much of an impact.
I was met with a chorus of hostile responses, but now I again have to ask if it isn’t time to start thinking about moving on from Dick. Steeler fans can keep pointing out that the team has finished first the last few seasons in total defense, but again, it’s statistically speaking. They’ve been near the bottom in turnovers forced and nearing the bottom in sacks. I say unless there is a dramatic decline, let LeBeau finish the season, and if he doesn’t retire, let him go. If the decline comes much swifter as season progresses, cut the Lebeau dingy loose sooner. Find a bright young, fiery DC who can create some havoc.
Maybe move either Jarvis Jones or Lamar Woodley at defensive end opposite Keisel, line up Al Woods next to McClendon and move to a 4-3. Yes, the 3-4 has been the alignment they’ve hung their hats on since 1982, but change isn’t the worst thing. And then in the off season either draft or sign some better 4-3 DL personnel.
By now it’s pretty clear that unless something dramatic happens, the hiring of Todd Haley was a disaster. I still don’t think he makes it through this season, but if he does, he should be the first coach fired in December.Yes, his offense was very good in Arizona, but he had Kurt Warner throwing to Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald. The 2013 Steelers have scored forty two points in three games.
The Bears had forty on Sunday night alone. Ben is as usual running for his life, but he’s been displaying more bad decisions than normal. Part of this is his fault, but part of it is Haley’s as well. And I was liking what I was seeing out of Felix Jones until he fumbled it away in the second half, killing a productive drive. I’ve always liked Jones, going all the way back to college and I was really excited the team traded for him, but Sunday night was typical Felix: one bad play killing an otherwise decent performance to that point.
Of course we have the usual Felix Jones injury to look forward to (somewhere around week five or six), but he and Le’veon Bell might prove to be a decent duo at running back. Johnathon Dwyer needs more consistency, he’ll make a nice run and then have three straight carries where he gains little or no yardage. If Jones, Bell and Dwyer can stay healthy and get consistency, there could be something pretty nice at the running back spot.
As for our favorite punching bag, the Steelers OL, I say start the housecleaning with nearly the whole darn group. Pouncey had a special rookie season, but he’s been dogged by injuries. He’s probably the lone starter I would bring back no questions asked. DeCastro has shown to be nothing special at this point, but he probably gets one more year to show his worth. Fernando Velasco has proven to be a decent addition and I’d say they should bring him back next year. As for Foster, Adams, and Gilbert…..nice knowing you. I don’t care what Roethlisberger told this group, for a bunch of high draft picks, they’re garbage. And like most garbage, it’s time to throw most of this bunch out.
Of course one of the main culprits of this is GM Kevin Colbert. Other than Pouncey, none of his first rounders has done much of anything. I’m not counting Jarvis Jones in that equation, I still think he’s going to be special, but Colbert has been downright bad at adding talent to an aging roster.
I know the team has an adverse fear to adding pieces through free agency, but there are serviceable guys at a decent price that can come in and plug some holes. Bruce Gradkowski was an instant upgrade over the horrors that were Charlie Batch and Bryon “shot putter” Leftwich. Thus, it stands to reason that there are other inexpensive additions that could be made, if only the team were more willing to be active in free agency and had a GM who could find some talent with more consistency.
Yes, I know drafting is not an exact science and free agency is a gamble, but you have to be willing to take a gamble and the Steeler brass just keeps to its old habit of building through the draft. In my opinion, Colbert has done nothing to warrant being brought back in 2014.
LeBeau…gone, Haley…gone, Colbert…gone, OL…mostly gone. However, that’s only if the upper management can see there is a problem and that time’s change, the way needs to change. Maybe it’s time for the Rooney family to think about doing things a little differently starting in December.
And speaking of doing things a little differently, maybe it’s time they put their head coach on a hot seat. Yes, Mike Tomlin deserves a great deal of the blame for this. I for one am sick and tired of his blank, wide -eyed stares on the sidelines as if he is bewildered as to what is going on. The guy just looks lost. And his post-game press conferences are downright ridiculous: “We own it, we don’t like it but we’ll own it”, “we wear that,” “we’ve got to remain unwavered collectively,” are just some of his gems from this young season. Tomlin does not seem to have the tools to get this team fired up or motivated to play. He’s so lacking in this department that I doubt he could motivate convicts to break out of prison.
Other than in the Steeler manual, nowhere is it written that a coach can’t be fired after a couple of lackluster seasons. Right now, 0-4 is a real possibility. And they still have the play the Ravens twice, the Packers, the Patriots, Miami, and they get the Bengals one more time. Can anyone say 5-11, 4-12?
Yes folks, time for the Steelers to start thinking about cleaning some house.
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