As the weeks go by, I find myself seeing less and less stuff to complain about in regard to how the Steelers work, and that has become increasingly evident in their record.
With their latest win over the Green Bay Packers, they are now sitting at 6-3 on the year and are chugging along with the most momentum they’ve had in their corner at any point so far this season. They’ve developed such a positive image with not only a playmaking defense that we’ve covered time and time again but also a modest offense that’s made sound improvements over time.
So in summary, Pittsburgh is a 6-3 team with both an electric defense and a well-running offense. In other words, the Steelers are good; but while “good” is a monumental step forward from the quality we were initially in for, we in Steeler Nation want a squad even better than that—and there’s only one way for it to take shape.
The solution is much easier said than done (as are most others in this context), but it nonetheless needs to be addressed before its absence comes into play further on down the road: Pittsburgh needs to establish a healthy offensive balance. I’m certain that sounds vague to many so allow me to explain.
The Steelers offense has been impossible to predict
On multiple occasions now, we have seen the Steelers go through a trial-and-error routine with their offense. They had started with next to nothing on that side of the ball, seemingly struggling to pinpoint an identity for one reason or another. Over those days, they struggled to shine with both their passing and rushing attacks.
From there, they would eventually develop a couple of go-to players, mainly wide receiver George Pickens, who went as far as having multiple 100-yard performances. However, despite him having quickly become the offense’s most reliable piece, his target count significantly dropped soon after Diontae Johnson returned from injury. I understand that Pickens was bound to share some spotlight once Johnson came back, but him now putting up “role player” numbers illustrates what can’t be denied as far too extreme of a change.
As for the rushing game, a mere glance at Pittsburgh’s yardage says it all, as the following are answers (by week) to the question of whether the Steelers broke 100 yards on the ground: No, no, yes, yes, no, no, no, yes, yes (broke 200 against Green Bay). In a similar fashion to their use of George Pickens, we’re seeing what is flagrantly a hot-cold theme there.
Now, as I was hinting at about their wide receivers just a moment ago, I understand that the Steelers are going to see some fluctuation in their rushing stats over time; they are obviously not always going to operate their offense the exact same way every week. The amount of turbulence we’re seeing, though, comes off as being less about diverse play-calling and more about just plain inconsistency.
That kind of play is clearly good enough to beat squads like the Titans and Packers, which is lovely, but with them both dwelling at 3-6 and being laughingstocks in their divisions today, they are not adequate representations of much opposition that Pittsburgh is yet to meet, nor are they of the opposition Pittsburgh could potentially meet in the postseason.
So, while feeding off of them makes us all feel good about the state of things right now, it's crucial to keep in mind that the lack of a better/more reliable offensive balance will become a make-or-break matter for the Steelers as they dig into the second half of their schedule. If they can keep pushing what they’re good at while working on that, I can definitely see this team being in playoff shape come January.