Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
How low can they go? How low can they go? How low can they go?
I think the Pittsburgh Steelers are playing their own personal game of “limbo” with the way they have plummeted in the NFL Power Rankings of numerous pundits during the first month of the 2013 regular season:
"Sure, they’ve had three coaches since 1969 – but they’re off to their worst start since 1968.-Mike Florio (Pro Football Talk, Ranked #30)"
I am glad that Florio mentioned Pittsburgh’s dubious start during the final year of the Bill Austin-era, especially since the 2013 team is probably as hapless as the 1968 version. All the Steelers need are two more losses to tie that team’s pathetic 0-6 start. With an improved Jets team and the Ravens on the docket, I would not be shocked if it happened.
"The Steelers, a historically strong defensive juggernaut, is now just the second team in NFL history to go without a takeaway in their first four games.-Brian Billick (FOX Sports.com, Ranked #29)"
Thankfully, people are pointing fingers at the defense instead of the offense for Pittsburgh’s 0-4 start. The lack of consistent pocket-collapse and a single takeaway is nothing short of ridiculous. Opposing quarterbacks and offensive coordinators have figured out Dick LeBeau’s schemes, and are more than willing to “dink-and-dunk” their way down the field. It also doesn’t help that the Steelers’ defense is ranked 29th in rushing yards allowed.
"Question of the week: Is the seat under Mike Tomlin getting hotter? It might be. They have a bye to let it all stew.– Pete Prisco (CBS Sports.com, Ranked #29)"
I at least hope that Mike Tomlin is on the proverbial “hot seat” for this team’s 0-4 start. This team has lacked discipline during their last 11 regular season games (2-9 record), and all of the problems on the roster do not appear to be “quick fixes.” Tomlin deserves the chance to right the ship during the current rebuilding process like Bill Cowher did between 1998-2000, yet if things do not change or appear to be changing, Pittsburgh’s brass might be looking for a new head coach in the near future.
"The Steelers allowed 96 rushing yards after contact Sunday, their second-most since the start of 2009. There’s a lot to think about in Pittsburgh during the bye week.–ESPN.com (Week 5 PRs, Ranked #29)"
As I alluded to above, Pittsburgh’s run defense has been atrocious this fall. They rank 29th (491 through four games) in the league at the moment in rushing yards allowed, have not limited an opponent to and their inability to wrap-up ball-carries has been a joke. How Ryan Clark, whose tackling skills have completely eroded, is still starting or even logging significant reps right now is nothing short of ridiculous.
"After yet another loss for Pittsburgh, let’s go positive. Forget about Le’Veon Bell’s numbers, which were modest (16 carries, 57 yards, two touchdowns). There’s no way you can watch the guy and not think he’s three steps ahead of the three-headed Astro van that is Jonathan Dwyer, Isaac Redman and Felix Jones. Yes the Steelers have a player in Bell, who is explosive, unafraid to run between the tackles and possesses excellent balance. – Elliot Harrison (NFL.com, Ranked #29)"
Kudos to Harrison for staying positive. Seriously though, anybody who did watch last Sunday’s game saw exactly what Harrison discussed. Bell has a promising skill-set, and he should be a tremendous weapon for Pittsburgh’s offense if his health permits him to stay on the field. Of course, he could be even better if the Steelers’ offensive line illustrated some competency on a more consistent basis.
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