Steelers want to forget this preseason, but they shouldn’t


The first step in fixing something is to admit you have a problem. This is not to say you must quit. This is not to lose hope, or lose confidence. After all, you can be confident you will find a solution. But no problem can be solved if you aren’t willing to recognize something needs to be solved.

This is where we find the Steelers presently. The Steelers came into this preseason having been 1-7 in the last two preseasons. That number has “improved” to 2-11. That’s a .15 winning percentage, which is less than a 1/3 of the average, which is 50% obviously. There is clearly a problem.

It was pointed out on this site that the Steelers are the worst preseason team in the NFL. That assertion was objected to by many, both among fans and media.

It was only the preseason, it was only the first two games of the preseason, it’s a young team, they’re learning something new, Landry Jones is to blame for everything, and much more. But how long can the Steelers be a young team? 3 years now? How long is it just the first two games of preseason? 3 years now? Landry Jones does not play defense.

Furthermore, the games are not typically close either. The Steelers, this preseason, have been outscored by their opponents 122-73. That’s an average of losing by 10 pts per game. The worst losses came in the last two games, suggesting the team had not been improving.

In terms of passing yards they’ve been out-thrown 837 yards to 1284. Four of five were lost straight up. The one the won was by 4 yards. It was an average of 167.4 to 256.8. The high was 245 and the low was 123. Not close, and it got worse as the preseason went on.

In terms of rushing the ball the Steelers were outrun 294 to 601. They lost four of five again straight up, and this one only by two yards. It was an average of 58.8 to 120.2. Even less close than in passing. The high was 75 yards, and the low was 43. It too, got worse as the preseason went on.

When it came to turnovers the Steelers got beat 2 to 4. This was mixed; they gave up, but also took away less as the preseason went on. At this point I’ll take it. When it came to TOP, the Steelers were beat 127 minutes and 22 seconds to 172 minutes and 38 seconds. That’s an average of 25:28 to 34:32. They didn’t win the TOP battle in any game.

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So let’s just come to terms with the fact that we sucked. The numbers are plain. So why is that? It could be one of a number of reasons but is likely due in some part to all of the following factors.

Cover 2: It’s a new defense, and the team is learning it. Either they haven’t learned it yet, or it just plain doesn’t work with us. It’s also possible the methods for teaching it are not effective.

Bad depth: Clearly our backups were especially poor. The more time went on and the more substitutions the Steelers made, the worse the team looked. Yes, they’re young, or new, or whatever. But so are the other team’s players at that point in the game.

Defense: The defense looked just plain bad sometimes, more as the game went on, and especially when it came to passing, but frankly it did not look great anywhere at any time. This could be due to the two factors listed above, but it could also be due to certain personnel, or even coaching.

Training camp is too hard: Tomlin runs a notoriously hard training camp. Maybe this is not the best approach. Things like injuries or deflated looking players might be because they’re beat up and worn out by the time the preseason starts. Then they really cannot maximize that experience.

None of these problems are impossible to overcome. They are all solvable. But to fix a problem you have to try to fix a problem. And you can’t fix a problem if you don’t acknowledge it exists.

Of the preseason and depth Tomlin said, as reported by Times Online, “We worry very little about reputation or expectations and more about results. Obviously there’s some questions that need to be answered with them, they’ll answer them soon enough.”

The Steelers certainly want to put this preseason behind them. But they should not forget it. They should build on it. Tomlin never panics. He always keeps his cool, which is extremely important for a head coach. This is the right move.

That being said, this preseason was not something to forget but something to build on. Which is more than possible, and based on how Tomlin and the Steelers followed up the poor preseason of 2014 with a division championship, that’s more than possible.

Next: Steelers final roster cuts

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