View Full Version : What's wrong with the Steelers?

10-12-2006, 02:34 PM

What's wrong with the Pittsburgh Steelers? It depends on who's doing the talking.

There are no experts on the matter, only opinions from those in the business who have seen the defending Super Bowl champions (1-3) on tape, on television and in person this season.

Those opinions start with critiques of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger but do not end there. They include criticism of the wide receivers, running game, offensive line and even a citation for a possible Super Bowl hangover because players perhaps took interest in soup commercials and travel to distant places at the expense of working out.

"It's very obvious; it's Roethlisberger," said Bob Trumpy, a former NFL tight end who broadcast the game Sunday in San Diego for CBS Radio/Westwood One. "He's the guy who's the magic and he's being very careless with the football. He's not protecting the ball. You can't have a quarterback who is careless with the football."

Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Ham, who lives in Sewickley, Pa., and analyzes his former team on ESPN Radio 1250, believes the problems lie more with the receivers than the quarterback.

"I don't think any secondary fears those wideouts," Ham said. "Ben doesn't have the kind of team around him that can run for 150 yards every game like he's had. If you don't have the wideouts - you saw Pittsburgh's running game - you stop Pittsburgh. I can't remember the last deep ball we made in the passing game."

Ham noted that Roethlisberger has a combination of young receivers and a veteran in Hines Ward, who is trying to get over a hamstring injury that kept him out of every preseason game.

"Santonio Holmes is your only deep threat and he's probably a ways away from being a factor. Hines Ward is not a deep burner to begin with and he has a hamstring problem now and he's in his ninth season; would you double him if you were a secondary coach? I wouldn't."

Ham said it's only natural that all that would affect Roethlisberger's play.

"He's had too much success here the last couple of years," Ham said. "It's not just Ben. On a couple of those shots he took downfield, he's getting hit delivering the ball. I have a feeling he's back there looking down field and when he's looking at his wideouts, it's a concern to him."

Gil Brandt, the former Dallas Cowboys personnel director and a Hall of Fame nominee, now works as a senior analyst for NFL.com. He said he has seen teams, including his Cowboys, suffer from a Super Bowl hangover, although he does not know if it applies to this year's Steelers.

"No. 1, you didn't get as much offseason participation as you had in the years leading up to when you were trying to get to the pinnacle," Brandt said of the natural Super Bowl letdown. "Instead of 40 workouts, you do 37.

"No. 2, I think what happens is all of a sudden, the opportunities off the field become more prevalent than ever before. There are a few more golf tournaments, a few more appearances at shopping centers and things like that. Leading up to the season, there isn't as much preparation as there was in previous years."

Mike Butler, a Pittsburgh native who recently wound up 19 years as a scout or personnel director with the Indianapolis Colts, believes it's not one thing that has caused the Steelers to lose three of their first four games. But, as with Trumpy, he starts with the quarterback, noting Roethlisberger's motorcycle accident in June and appendectomy a month ago as possibly throwing off his karma.

"He seems to be making some bad decisions. It just seems like he's off, something's missing," Butler said. "He's probably rusty; he missed practice time with the receivers, which is big. They have to do that every day, in my opinion, to keep that chemistry. In my opinion, it just takes some time.

"Once you start losing, it compounds itself. Everyone starts pressing and then you don't play as well because you're pressing. I think it just takes a little time in practice."

As do others, Butler believes the Steelers' ground attack is not up to snuff.

"I don't think the running game is as much a threat as it's been in the past. That makes pass coverage a little easier when that threat's gone. Willie Parker's had some success and some big games, but I don't think it's very consistent myself. Without that threat, you can put more guys in coverage, you don't have to play as close to the line."

But then, according to Ham, there's not much to cover anyway. Ham does think the offensive line, running game and quarterback will be OK.

"They played some pretty tough teams against pretty tough defenses," Ham said of the line. "I think that running game will come around."

Trumpy agrees with Ham's assessment, except for the quarterback. He's not sure Roethlisberger will be OK. He also noted that it takes more time to develop a rapport between a quarterback and his receivers than they've had this year.

Trumpy watched the Chargers beat the Steelers Sunday night and remarked at the time that San Diego could not match the Steelers in talent.

"I'm not sure any offensive linemen for San Diego would make that Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line. Maybe two or three Chargers defensive players would make the Steelers.

"It's all centered on Ben Roethlisberger. You can't look anywhere else. I don't see Pittsburgh as a team making stupid mistakes. I don't see blown coverages or missed blitzes. I just see Roethlisberger playing this year like it was last year and it's not; that happens in this league."

Steelers coach Bill Cowher acknowledged all the analysis offered to explain his team's 1-3 start.

"People can speculate. I think what happens when you're not successful as an individual or a team, there's a lot of speculation as to why. Is it this, is it that? From our standpoint, it doesn't serve any purpose to dwell on it," he said.

"The bottom line is, each week we're going to try to find a way to win a game. That to me is the solution to all these (theories). We just have to win a game."

Betweeen Ben, the wide receivers and the Steelers ground game is there anything they missed? :dunno:

Black@Gold Forever32
10-12-2006, 02:50 PM
One thing they missed was the poor special teams play. Thats been a big factor in the 1-3 start especially with the struggles of Ben and the WR's. You usually can win if only one part of your football team is playing bad. But when two are like the Steelers offense and special teams then thats going to lead to losses.

10-12-2006, 05:39 PM
We've beaten this topic to death. We all know what's wrong with them but it's up to them to fix it.

Poor play at QB
Defense can't get off the field on 3rd down
Offense can't convert 3rd downs
Running game is sporatic
ST coverage is spotty
Return game is mediocre
Questionable play calling
Defense can't consistently tackle
Secondary is getting burnt too often

10-12-2006, 06:04 PM
I would agree with your entire list except for the ST Coverage. The Steelers have clawed their way up to #24 in the rankinga now and are giving up just 11.8 per return which is a huge difference from the first game (Kick off return is ranked #19 in the NFL, giving up 22 ypr). So I would have to say the ST coverage is doing their job now. Other than that, you need to print up your list and get it over to Cowher so he can get all those points addressed by Sunday! :bigthumb:

House of Steel
10-12-2006, 06:11 PM
Very good analysis from all of you.

10-12-2006, 07:11 PM
You are correct, the coverage units have been getting better...I just want them to get back to how they were last year where virtually nobody gained any signifcant yards on us in the return game and we could stop anybody from making a big ST play against us...but we gotta start somewhere right ;)

10-12-2006, 07:28 PM
You're definitely right TG! Now if the rest of the team could just make an effort like the ST units have then the whole team would be in good shape and we wouldn't be discussing all these issues lingering over their heads right now. If theycould get one win, I think their confidence would shoot through the roof!

K Train
10-12-2006, 10:49 PM
i think playcalling is the biggest factor followed by ben forcing throws.
the fake punt "thing" was big and the flea flicker was unneccesary...both were huge in our loss