The Steelers dropped a disappointing home opener to the New England Patriots. Here’s what we learned from Pittsburgh’s Week 2 loss.
Well, without T.J. Watt, the Steelers defense looked completely different, was not able to generate pressure on a consistent basis, and allowed the New England Patriots to spoil the home opener at the newly dubbed Acrisure Stadium. Granted, the offense did its part to contribute to the loss and the special teams were less than special but suffice it to say, the Steelers did not play well on either side of the ball, thus we took the loss.
Not only did we take the loss, but we took a conference loss. What really bothers me is this: we could have (and should have) beaten the Patriots. We had opportunities but ultimately fell short of securing victory.
Let’s see what we learned on the offensive side of the ball.
The Steelers offense is predictable and listless
According to ESPN, the Steelers offense amassed two-hundred and forty-three yards while possessing the ball for twenty-six minutes and change. The statistic from this game that really sticks out more than any other statistic is the average yards per pass.
Mitch Trubisky threw the ball an average of just over four yards per completion. Look, I am all for taking what the defense is giving, but, at some point, you have to throw the ball deep, if for nothing else than to give the defense something else to worry about.
The passing game under Matt Canada is absolutely atrocious. The route concepts are such that they do not allow for yards-after-catch or YAC. When was the last time we saw a post route or a ‘dig’ route?
The middle-high-low concept apparently does not exist in Canada’s scheme. We scored fourteen points, but it was not enough considering the defense gave up seventeen points. Something has to give. You cannot be afraid to throw the ball deep or over the middle. This college-esque offense has to go.
Let’s see what we learned on the defensive side of the ball.
The Steelers defense is just not the same without T.J. Watt
To say that the ‘D’ is just not the same without Watt is probably the most profound understatement of all time. He should be named team MVP right now. Without Watt, the defense managed zero sacks.
That’s correct, the defense was not able to get any sacks against the Patriots. For a defense that relies on pressure to either force an incompletion or to ‘get home’, we really did not do either and it showed.
Despite the sub-par performance, we still had an opportunity to get the ball back to the offense late in the fourth quarter, but the defense could not get the stop we desperately needed; thus we took the loss. Minkah Fitzpatrick was the lone bright spot against the Patriots hauling in his second INT in as many games.
Let’s see what else we learned.
The Steelers season may already be at an impasse
Look, I do not want to overreact to one loss, but this was not only a home loss, but the loss against the Patriots was a conference loss. These are the types of losses that tend to come back to bite you at the end of the season when you’re fighting for a playoff spot.
I think Mike Tomlin may already have some tough decisions to make with respect to all facets of the team. The offense is too conservative, the defense looks listless without Watt and special teams let us down against the Patriots.
So, what’s the solution? If you ask me, Tomlin has to either fire Canada or tell him in no uncertain terms to start calling NFL-caliber plays. This college-style offense has to be retired post haste. On the defensive side of the ball, if we cannot generate pressure, we have to play coverage.
We do not have the ‘horses’ to play press-man coverage, so let’s just not call man-to-man ever again. As far as special teams are concerned, we signed a Pro-Bowl returner who muffed a punt that lead to seven points for the Patriots. That’s unacceptable.
We do not have time to wallow in our sorrows over this loss. It’s a quick turnaround as we will square off against the Browns shortly. I sincerely hope the outcome is a better one for us.