Are The Wheels Off Already?

I wish I had a meme machine so I could make one. It would feature a bug-eyed Mike Tomlin with that fake tough glare of his and the heading/caption, “I’m not surprised by 0-2 . . . I planned it that way.”

If Tomlin and the Steelers want to claim otherwise, they will have a hard time convincing me. The same problems that afflicted the Steelers last season – poor tackling, poor coverage and an absolute reliance on the pass rush to slow down opposing pass games – continue to plague the team.

Adjustments? Please, be serious, this coaching staff hasn’t made good adjustments in years which begs the question, are they able?

Personnel upgrades? The Steelers tried, and it is not a complete disaster. Steven Nelson has looked like a decent number two corner, and Mark Barron has been okay (just okay), but the Steelers overpaid for Joe Haden’s continued mediocrity and still have not figured out how to cover tight ends or receivers running through the deep middle of the defense.

Terrell Edmunds continues to be more bad than good (he whiffed on a tackle allowing for a big gain and could not stay with DK Metcalf on a touchdown pass that was a killer.

Much was made about the fact that the Steelers pressured Russell Wilson throughout the game. Not true. Yes, the Steelers sacked the Seattle QB four times, but they all came in the first half of play – they still play two halves in the NFL – and the Steelers pressure obviously did not affect Wilson who finished the game 29 of 35 for 300 yards and three touchdowns.

As soon as Seattle began max protecting Wilson, just like the Patriots did a week ago for Brady, the Seahawks began throwing the ball all over a Steelers defense that just cannot cover.

Wilson also used the Steelers’ late-game rush against them burning the Steelers on three scrambles for 10 yards, nine yards, and 15 yards respectively which helped the Seahawks run out the clock on their 28-26 win.

The blueprint to beat the Steelers is out there, and the Steelers have no answers, either because the coaches are not making adjustments when opponents do, or because they do not have the players to execute.

Maybe Randy Fichtner and Keith Butler have say in the game planning, but Tomlin has the final call on everything, so the ultimate burden of blame befalls him, and, based on a growing body of evidence, there is reason to believe that he will not be able to overcome his flaws to coach the Steelers back into relevance any time soon.

Plenty of time to recover, that’s the good news, but the Steelers look like an ice road trucker with about three good wheels left and the other 15 bounce, bounce, bouncing away off the same cliff towards which the Steelers’ truck is barreling.


Other MoioMusings:

  • Bennie Snell – one carry for 23 yards. Jaylen Samuels, six carries for 18 yards, and one reception for 13 yards, James Conner, 11 carries for 33 yards, three receptions for 12 yards, and another injury. Do the math. I love the Conner story as much as anyone. I love Pitt, love the Steelers, and love the personal triumph by Conner, but he has to be better. 
  • The Steelers are carrying three receivers that are purely dead weight. Donte, “cement hands,” Moncrief, Ryan Switzer and Johnny Holton all occupy roster spots, and none are worth a dime. The Steelers have gone from the best receiving corps in the division to the worst in a very short time. Juju is a fun, lovable guy, but clearly not a number one, James Washington is average and Diontae Johnson is trying to figure it out. Just like the game plan, who, “gets a hat,” on Sundays is on Tomlin, and the Steelers look outmanned.
  • I can’t even begin to address the Pat Narduzzi gaffe at Penn State. Not that Pitt would have scored to tie the game on the drive in the fourth quarter that ended with a missed field goal attempt on fourth and goal from the PSU one-yard-line, but the premise for Narduzzi’s decision was all wrong, the execution obviously backfired and the lack of belief in an offensive line to push an opponent one yard is disturbing. Narduzzi’s defense is his defense, which was playing very well, but his explanation is indefensible.
  • Queue up the, “Mason Rudolph should be the starter,” contingent. The argument is that nobody knew how good Ben would be until he was pressed into action as a rookie in game two, and look how that turned out. Maybe Rudolph will capitalize on the momentum of a decent appearance in a tough spot to surge ahead of Ben, but I am not buying it. I was encouraged by Rudolph’s performance and will root for him, but the 2019 Steelers are deader than dead if he is at the helm. Talk to me if the Steelers cannot recover by Week 9 to be a playoff contender – then the Rudolph experiment might be worth a go – until then, it remains Ben’s team.
  • To finish on a positive note, the Pirates gave up 47 runs and 49 hits in THREE games over the weekend to the Cubs. How is that positive? It’s not, but the Pirates have been atrocious in the eight weeks since the All-Star break, the Steelers took just two weeks to fly off the rails.
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