Two cold, hard truths about Steelers loss to the Las Vegas Raiders

Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Matt Canada Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Steelers loss to the Las Vegas Raiders exposed the shortcomings of an ineffective offense and lack of depth on the defense.

I know what you’re thinking: we are only two games into the 2021 NFL season and we are already bemoaning one loss.  It’s one loss!  Why are even discussing it?  Well, here’s my retort to the aforementioned questions. We are discussing one loss because it was not only a conference loss, but it was a loss that could have and should have been a win for the Steelers.

We are also discussing one loss because it was a loss that, frankly, exposed both the offense and the defense in a manner that could be detrimental to our efforts as the season goes on.  Look, I realize the chances of going undefeated in any season are slim to none, but to lose the home opener to an arch-rival is upsetting to me.

What’s also upsetting to me is this: despite not playing well on either side of the ball, the Steelers were still in the game in the fourth quarter until an inexplicable call to punt on fourth and a yard to go essentially sealed the game for the Raiders.  I think it’s fair to say that the decision to not go for it was not the best decision Mike Tomlin has made over his fifteen seasons as our Head Coach.

The Steelers offense has yet to gain any traction

To put it mildly, the offense through two games has been essentially ineffective.  I think we made more of an effort to get the run game going and to throw the ball downfield against the Raiders than we did against the Bills, but the offense simply looks like we’re still playing in pre-season mode.

When the Steelers promoted Matt Canada to Offensive Coordinator prior to the beginning of the season, I figured there would be some ‘growing pains’, but it appears to me that the offense is just disjointed and lethargic.  Slow starts have been the norm through the first two games and I think opposing defenses have already figured out what we want to do.

Pre-snap motion generally means either a run to the opposite side of the motion or a ‘jet sweep’ to the WR going in motion.  Every now and then, we will take a shot down the field, but generally speaking, Canada will call some type of ‘tunnel screen’ hoping that the WR can make a defender miss, resulting in a big gain.

One cold, hard truth is that the Steelers offense has become somewhat predictable and already one-dimensional because of a lack of an effective running game.  Can someone explain to me why the Steelers have a FB on the roster if Canada is not going to use him in the running game?  What other purpose does a FB serve in today’s NFL?

The Steelers defense is lacking quality depth at key positions

This is the second cold, hard truth. I understand that injuries are as much a part of the game as are blocking and tackling.  It is rare for any team to escape an NFL season sans injuries; however, some teams are better equipped than others at dealing with injuries because the depth at key positions is good.

I would say that as the Steelers roster is currently constructed, there are concerns about the quality of play from our starters to our backups.  Losing a couple of starters before a game is one thing; Losing a couple of key players in-game is difficult to deal with, so rather than adjust the play calling, it looked to me like we were trying to call what we would normally call had all of our starters been in there.

Trending. 3 things we learned from Pittsburgh Steelers loss against the Raiders. light

A lack of consistent pass rush against the Raiders led to coverage breakdowns and that is part of the second cold, hard truth.  I sincerely hope Tomlin evaluates the roster from top to bottom and realizes that we are not going to be successful if we don’t address the depth at key positions.