Pittsburgh Steelers Grades Week 1: Defense

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Sep 7, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback William Gay (22) breaks up a pass intended for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (16) during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Oh man.  There’s only one player who shined on Sunday afternoon in the secondary, and his name isn’t Troy Polamalu or Ike Taylor.  It was William Gay.  And, when Gay pops up as the only big playmaker, you know it was a struggle for everyone else (not to take away from what Gay did to help the Steelers defense give the offense one final shot at winning the game before regulation ended).  Everyone other than Gay were pretty awful.  Polamalu was out of position and couldn’t tackle.  Mike Mitchell seemed to be bogged down by his hand warmer.  Maybe it was wind resistance.  Cortez Allen was flat footed.  And, the Steelers #1 corner, Ike Taylor, was the worst of them all.  Taylor allowed the game tying touchdown to a pretty wide open Travis Benjamin.  Taylor was his usual self and failed to pull in what should have been an interception from any other corner in this league.  It was entirely frustrating to see that the Steelers felt Ike was still the best option for their secondary.  It was frustrating to see that when they DID spend money in the form of Mike Mitchell, they have been getting very little in return.  It’s frustrating to see that unless cut by the Steelers in the offseason, we might have to see the unimaginable decline of the once great Troy Polamalu.

Grade: D


Aug 28, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau looks on from the sidelines against the Carolina Panthers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. The Panthers won 10-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to writing this up, I had in my notes that Dick LeBeau needs to focus less on drawing up “brilliant” schemes and more on developing and teaching these young guys to play football.  After hearing comments from yesterday, I just have to add that Dick LeBeau needs to go after this season.  One of the more lame excuses I ever heard coming out of a locker room… ever…. was when some of the players on defense said that they were surprised at the use of the no huddle offense from the Browns in the second half.  They say it’s what made them flat footed in that half because they had not prepared for such a scenario.  While that may be true, that just means almost the entire blame for the second half collapse falls on the defensive coordinator.  LeBeau left his players unprepared and failed to make any second half adjustments even after the Browns struck quickly in the 3rd quarter.  As one follower on Twitter put it, sometimes coaches get stale, and then it is time for them to go.  Well, LeBeau is more stale than a month old piece of bread.  This offense will have to rack up 28 or more points per game in order to win because this defense will struggle so much.  That’s all on LeBeau.  77 sounds like a lovely age to retire, don’t you think?

Grade: F