The Pittsburgh Steelers might be the worst team in the NFL at this moment.
You might think that’s an exaggeration, but look at the teams they’ve lost to lately. The Kansas City Chiefs. The Oakland Raiders. The Cleveland Browns. These are among the bottom feeders of the league. While they don’t have the worst record (because they did well earlier), I don’t think they could beat any team right now.
Many reasons are being offered for their miserable performance. There are some that need to be reviewed.
The play calling is not what it was during last year’s Super Bowl season. There have been some calls that have been mystifying. The Raiders game started to unravel when the decision was made to go for a 53-yard field goal. Jeff Reed missed it and Oakland turned it into an easy score.
Injuries have not helped. Many people have talked about Troy Polamalu being out for much of the season. Less attention has been paid to the injury to Aaron Smith, one of the major playmakers on defense. The concussion sustained by Ben Roethlisberger has not helped, either, although Dennis Dixon did not do badly as the backup against the Ravens.
It has even been suggested that President Obama is to blame for sending Dan Rooney to Ireland. Sounds like another excuse for right-wingers to bash Obama, but what do I know?
The offense has been reluctant to use the run for some reason. Even though Rashard Mendenhall was the star in the Broncos game—the Steelers’ last win—the offense has been going to the air too soon and too often. This is, or can be, a power offense. Why are they afraid to run more?
The weakest part of the team lately has been the secondary. While Polamalu may well not come back this season, the remainder of the secondary has not done well. Look at the Oakland game. The Steelers were beaten by big plays—long passes with no defender within 10 yards of the receiver. The receivers were unknown outside of Oakland. There was Louis Murphy, and I can’t remember the name of the other guy. We’re not talking about Randy Moss here. The draft should concentrate on cornerback and safety.
The offensive line has been inconsistent. In the Steelers’ wins, they have played impeccably and opened holes for the running attack. At their worst (Thursday’s Browns game), they have folded like an accordion and given defenders a straight shot to Roethlisberger’s head.
Special teams have been awful, with several return touchdowns allowed and at least one big return guaranteed in each game. Jeff Reed’s non-attempts at tackling have made ESPN’s “C’mon, Man!” more than once.
But what it comes down to is a lack of desire. Something is missing. This team just doesn’t want to win. You could see it in the Browns game. This was a team going through the motions, one with no drive, one that might as well not show up.
There are three more games left, and they will not be easy. The Packers, Ravens and Dolphins are all fighting for playoff spots. The Steelers? It’s really hard to ask professional athletes to play for pride, but what’s left?