Another lost football weekend for Pittsburgh’s two major football teams, and another flood of doubt and negativity from two fan bases who clearly expect more.
Both the Steelers’ and Panthers’ defenses were mediocre at best, and bad at worst in 2017. Neither really added anything that would improve that situation.
At Pitt, Pat Narduzzi and company were hoping another year of maturity and big-time college football experience would improve the defense. Not so.
At Steelers’ headquarters, they did not fill the gaping hole in the middle of the defense (that was not so good even with Ryan Shazier), and seem to have gotten worse in the secondary.
Both teams’ defensive warts showed up this past weekend as both were very soundly beaten by superior opponents.
Yes, the Ravens are superior, as painful as that is to admit.
Pitt’s excuse may be that Central Florida is an offensive juggernaut who plays at light speed and, in the oppressive heat of Florida, no defense stands a chance. Not a bad argument if this last performance (563 yards and 45 points allowed) was an outlier, but it was not. The embarrassing fake leg cramp tactic was a mockery and emphasized how desperate the Panthers are for any way to stop an opponent.
The Steelers excuse? We’ll just leave it there. The soft middle of the defense, poor tackling and laughable secondary play speaks for itself.
But the Steelers held the Ravens to just 12 second-half points – that’s good, right?
Well, 234 of Baltimore’s 451 yards came in the second half and the Ravens were more than content to take no chances and kick field goals. Not that the Steelers’ offense was anything close to good – we can start with 19 rushing yards and Ben’s whatever that was – especially not last night in a key divisional matchup.
It is easy to just point fingers at Narduzzi and Mike Tomlin, maybe even Keith Butler and Randy Bates, but it comes down to something much more basic and obvious. The players are not good enough.
Unless it’s Cleveland, T.J. Watt is ineffective, and outside of the occasional decent game, Vince Williams and Jon Bostic offer little to nothing. I actually heard somebody suggest Bostic was good against the Ravens. Ask the Ravens tight ends how well Bostic played – bet they have a different take.
Pitt’s roster deficiencies are everywhere. There is not a reliable game changer on defense and nothing in the pipeline resembles major Division-1 talent.
So blame Tomlin and Narduzzi for their parts – I do – but remember that the most creative coaching minds in football are not magicians, and no scheme is going to make up for a lack of talent.
- Look for a more complete Pirates’ season roundup in the coming days, but for now, winning is better than losing, so the Pirates had a good season. They exceeded expectations, right? I mean, nobody had them finishing 4th in the NL Central and out of the playof . . . oh, never mind. Just ask Neal Huntington, though, and he will remind you that the Pirates have the tenth best record in baseball since Clint Hurdle’s arrival in 2011. What an achievement.
- For hockey fans who have been suffering withdrawal, Thursday cannot come soon enough. Much has been made of the Penguins’ deeper lineup and improved blue line, so Thursday’s opener against the, (I have to say it to get over the nausea that comes with the thought . . . here it goes . . . ) defending Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals should be a good early litmus test. That vile phrase about the Capitals was worse than I thought – I am going now to wash out my mouth with soap.