What we learned from Steelers gut-wrenching loss vs Browns

Myles Garrett #95 of the Cleveland Browns rushes Mitch Trubisky #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 22, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)
Myles Garrett #95 of the Cleveland Browns rushes Mitch Trubisky #10 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 22, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images) /

The Steelers dropped another game versus an AFC Conference opponent. Here’s what we learned from the loss on Thursday Night Football.

If you did not see the Steelers game versus the Cleveland Browns, forget the final score. We did not play inspired football on either side of the ball, we could not stop the run and we could not score enough points to secure victory.

The team is frankly bad right now. Without T.J. Watt, the defense cannot generate any pressure, yet we continue to call ‘man-to-man’.  Why?  ‘Man-to-man’ works best when there is pressure.  Without pressure, it generally does not work.

Not only did we lose an AFC North Division game, but we also lost an AFC Conference game.  That is the epitome of a ‘double whammy’.  Let’s see what we learned on the offensive side of the ball.

The Steelers offense fizzled out down the stretch

We scored seventeen points; however, the Browns scored twenty-nine points.  Once again, the offense simply came up short.  According to ESPN, we gained a total of three hundred and eight yards; however, we only converted one third down the entire game.

Think about that for a moment.  An NFL team only converted one out of nine third-down opportunities.  That is not NFL-caliber football.  You cannot win converting one out of every nine third downs, but when is enough, enough?

When is Mike Tomlin going to realize that Matt Canada needs to be replaced as the offensive coordinator? Do we need to lose another game in which the offense fizzles out in the second half?  Do we need to lose several more games before a change is made?

The one statistic that seems to be a recurring theme thus far in the 2022 season is the time of possession. We possessed the ball for about twelve minutes less than the Browns possessed the ball.  You cannot win games consistently if you are losing the time of possession battle.

Let’s see what we learned on the defensive side of the ball.

The Steelers defense is flat-out bad right now

Look, I am usually pretty optimistic when it comes to the Steelers, but what I witnessed against the Browns was flat-out disgraceful.  We gave up one-hundred and seventy-one yards on the ground.

We had no answer for the Browns’ run game and that is simply unacceptable.  At what point does Tomlin think about making a change at defensive coordinator?  I realize we are without Watt right now, but the mark of a good coordinator is being able to adjust to overcome the loss of an All-Pro player.

Teryl Austin has looked completely lost in the Steelers two losses.  We have not been able to stop the run, we cannot generate consistent pressure sans Watt, but yet we call plays as if Watt is on the field and we have the ‘horses’ to run ‘man-to-man’ coverage.

The reality is this: Tomlin is heavily involved in the defense.  This is as much on him as it is on Austin, but something has to give.  Either change the play calling or replace the person calling the plays.

Let’s see what else we learned.

The Steelers season is slipping away as we speak

Make no mistake, the season is spiraling out of control.  Tomlin has it in his power to stop it in its tracks, but does he have the courage to make the necessary changes to do so? At this point, I would offer that we need to fire Canada and relieve Austin of play-calling responsibility.

I realize that neither may happen, but frankly, both should happen.  I have watched Steelers football since the 1970s and I can tell you that if Tomlin does not make changes, we will have a losing season.

We do not have NFL-caliber backups on the defensive side of the ball and that falls squarely on Tomlin and on the front office.  This roster may be one of the worst I have seen in my forty-four-plus years of watching Steelers football.

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All we can hope for is that Tomlin is objective enough to realize that changes need to be made and they need to be made quickly. Otherwise, the season will be lost.