The Pittsburgh Steelers lack of success this season has caused a frenzy of finger pointing from the fans and the media as to the cause of the Steelers likely missing the playoffs. Blame has been directed at the offense, blame towards the defense, the coaching, Jeff Reed, and on and on.
So where does the blame belong? With football being the ultimate team sport I think itís unfair to direct the blame in any one area. I do however feel the bulk of the blame belongs right at the top with Mike Tomlin.
As the head coach, itís Tomlinís primary job to manage the people working under him. That starts with the coaches on his staff all the way down to the players on the practice squad. Itís my opinion that Tomlin has failed in doing that.
Each week this season, all of the wins as well as the losses have seemed like the same game with the same mistakes. Nearly each week we can count on seeing a special teams let down, erratic play calling, overall poor pass coverage and finally ending with a 4th quarter defensive collapse.
In other seasons of the past the Steelers have had their issues. But I canít remember a season where they started and ended a season looking like the same team. In the past, as Steelers fans weíve grown accustomed to seeing the right moves made to correct a problem. For whatever reason, this season is not the case.
So whatís the problem? Why canít these issues be fixed? I personally feel thereís a simple answer to that. I feel there is no accountability. With all the problems with the special teams, how does special teams coach Bob Ligashesky still have a job? With the issues in the secondary, why did it take a concussion to William Gay to force Tomlinís hand to make a change? With the inconsistent yet consistently bad play calling by offensive coordinator, why hasnít Tomlin stepped in and demand some changes be made? Why not demand more no huddle? Why not demand common sense prevail on 3rd and 1 and the Steelers not line up in an empty backfield, shotgun set?
These are some of the things I canít understand not at least attempting to fix. If they did try to address these issues properly we would at least see a different type of game, perhaps a different problem. It almost seems to me there is a sort of stubbornness on the part of the Steelers staff as a whole.
My biggest problem is a lack of common sense and poor decision making in a time where a split second decision needs to be made. Many of those in game decisions rest in Tomlinís lap, and I feel he has a poor track record early in his career as an NFL head coach. Iíve seen many time where the Steelers punt when they should go for it, go for it when the should kick a field goal, kick a field goal when they should punt, and so on. I see them lining up offensively in formations that donít give them a good advantage. An empty back set, shotgun formation on 3rd and 1 just tells the defense a pass is coming. Even worse than that is when they do that on 2nd and 4. Those downs are supposed to be a big advantage to the offense because itís a running or passing down, but not a make or break down like 3rd down. I see them kicking the ball right down the middle of the field to Josh Cribbs who annually terrorizes the Steelers. I see them finally going to the hurry up offense in the 2nd half with the lead. I always thought that was a good time to slow things down and eat up some clock. I see the Steelers often abandoning the run too soon. I also have seen them need to score a TD in the 4th quarter, they have the ball with 4:00 on the clock but the play calling seems like thereís 0:50 on the clock. Generally in that case they score, but then give the ball back to the other team with an ideal 2:30 to go. Thatís where the defense has stepped in to do their part to seal what has become to seem the Steelers inevitable fate each week.