Ugly. That's about all I have to say for Sunday's Steelers performance. Actually, I don't even know if you can call it a performance. It was more of a practice and definitely not a very good one at that.
The offensive line was in shambles allowing Ben Roethlisberger to get sacked 5 times! That's right, you read it correctly-5 TIMES!! And we won't even talk about the number of times he was hurried or almost sacked. Granted, Ben's style of play is the type where he will take more sacks than the average quarterback with a good offensive line, but nonetheless, something needs to be done. Year after year, nothing changes. Yes, the Steelers somehow find ways to win despite having a line that's like a good math problem-how many different combinations of lines can you create with these eight players? But if this has been a problem for several consecutive years, shouldn't something be done to fix it?
I also don't understand why Bruce Arians didn't run Mewelde Moore and Isaac Redman more given Mendenhall's poor performance against Indianapolis. The only breakthrough the running game had against the Colts was when they handed off to Moore, which was at the end of the game- the end of a game that was way too close for comfort. And it wasn't until Mendenhall got hurt against Houston that they went to Moore and Redman.
Defense is by no means off the hook either. Up until this season, I could count on my hands the number of 100 rushing yard games that the famed Dick LeBeau defense gave up. They always seemed to have problems wrapping up small, bowling ball, speedy backs like Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice, but they never gave up many yards on the ground consistently. This year is a different story completely. In four games alone, they've given up 478 rushing yards. 478. You do the math. On average, that's over 100 yards a game. The problem with giving up so many rushing yards is that it allows teams to open up the passing game as well. And we all know that the Steelers secondary hasn't been, shall we say, very reliable in recent years. Thus, the defense's ability to stop the run is what forced teams to pass and make mistakes in the passing game. Now, teams can pass on their own free will-scary if you ask me. Turnovers go down. Defensive points go down. Wins become scarce.
Why is run defense a problem this year? Everyone is saying the Steelers defense is just getting old, but I don't really think that is the primary reason for their poor defense thus far. Yes, they are dealing with injuries, which do contribute to team chemistry and ability to play as a cohesive unit, but the bigger issue at hand again goes back to the offense. If the offense cannot stay on the field for more than three plays at a time, there is no way that the defense can be expected to consistently produce stops and points. Even for a great defense, that is an unrealistic demand. (Regarding injuries, it should be noted that Brett Keisel was out yesterday and Aaron Smith sustained a foot injury that took him out of the game as well. James Harrison was playing with one eye. For goodness sake!! It sounds like the Bad News Bears. Regardless, scattered defensive injuries are not the most relevant matter at hand as stated.)
With the Titans, Jaguars, Cardinals, and Patriots as the next four games up, the Steelers better go back to the drawing board. I don't think it's panic time yet, but if things continue the way they are now, Pittsburgh is in for a very long, ugly season.