Steelers Morning Huddle: DeAngelo, awful defense & kicker problems

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The Pittsburgh Steelers opened their 2015 season on a disappointing note last night against the New England Patriots with a 28-21 loss.

Even though they were seven point underdogs coming into the game, one can’t escape the feeling that the outcome could have been different if not for a few missed opportunities and some awful playcalling on defense. Here’s a few thoughts I have from the game.

#KickerProblems

The most obvious issue came at the often overlooked placekicker position – where we saw newcomer Josh Scobee miss two field goals in the first half that wound up being crucial to the final result.

Scobee was brought over in a trade recently after two of Pittsburgh’s kickers went down with preseason injuries. Saying that Scobee cost the Steelers the game is going too far, but one really can’t overstate how short the shelf life is for kickers who don’t come through.

at times it seemed like the Steelers defense totally forgot that Rob Gronkowski even existed

Had he connected on those two field goals the Steelers may have had a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter. If Scobee doesn’t look much better next week look for Pittsburgh to try to find an answer in free agency before Week 3.

Old Man DeAngelo

There’s plenty to be pessimistic about from the loss. Let’s take a moment to focus on one of the few bright spots. Veteran running back DeAngelo Williams turned back the clock and put on a serious show from the first snap until the last:

Williams finished with 127 yards on 21 carries for a healthy six yard per attempt average.

Nobody is going to say that the Steelers don’t need Le’Veon Bell anymore but it’s comforting to see Williams looking spry and hungry at this point in his career. Pittsburgh appears to have one of the deeper backfields in the NFL, which will serve them well in the long run.

Perhaps we will see Williams tear it up much like his former teammate Steve Smith Sr. did when he was let go by the Panthers. If so, the Steelers offense is going to be truly something special to behold.

Atrocious Defense

Let’s forget about all this sunshine and lollipops nonsense, though. The number one story coming out of this game is how truly atrocious the Steelers’ defense looked against Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense.

If you’re being honest with yourself, you already know that Pittsburgh’s defense has been backsliding for the last several seasons. Now there’s nowhere left to hide. I made a tasteless joke at one point that Dick LeBeau was rolling over in his grave. Wrong? Yes. But you know I’m right.

Pittsburgh’s cornerbacks looked overwhelmed trying to defend Julian Edelman and at times it seemed like the Steelers defense totally forgot that Rob Gronkowski even existed. Ever helpful, Gronk scored three touchdowns to remind them.

That’s an unforgiveable mistake, even this early in the season.

Keith Butler’s gameplan apparently did not include defending the flats, and the Steelers paid for it all night long. Based on what we saw from the defense Thursday night, the Steelers don’t look like anything like a playoff team.

It’s too early in the season to panic but there’s a whole lot of work to do.

Next: Steelers drop opener to Patriots: Instant reaction

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