Steelers 10 – Browns 31
Simply put, this game was one big stinker! It’s getting harder and harder to come up with adjectives to describe just how bad this team is, and by virtue of the quality of play and inability to score touchdowns, they’re getting worse. There was one quarter of good play, the first, then everything went downhill after a botched field goal attempt early in the second quarter. It was one misfire after the other thereafter until they finally got into the end zone with a little more than 2 minutes left to play.
The entire offense is still scratching it’s collective heads, trying to figure out why they can’t score. One reason is this team is stubborn, partly because of Coach Tomlin insisting that it’s run the ball in from the 6 or settle for a field goal. That’s just part of his machismo, as well as a problem with the mindset of the team, many think that by virtue of wearing the uniform that they’re invincible. The simple fact is, they’re predictable, no imagination or effort towards running high percentage plays in the red zone. Aside from Heath Millers quick hitters last week, he’s virtually written out of the playbook in scoring situations. Next to Hines Ward, Heath Miller is the best red zone threat Big Ben has had during his time with the team.
Speaking of Hines Ward, whatever ever happened to the quick slant he used to score on. Hines made his living off the play during his prime, you mean to tell me they can’t practice that with Marcus Wheaton? The New York Giants run that play all the time and used it in each of the Super Bowls wins against Tom Terrific and his Genius Coach. Just an example of high percentages plays, stop scratching your head and point your eye to the goal line, it’s there for the taking. The fact that Big Ben made the comment after the game regarding how difficult it is in the red zone because the field is shorter, well, shows just how out of touch he and his teammates actually are.
This game was very reminiscent of the 2011 Wild Card Playoffs against the Tim Tebow lead Denver Broncos, we all remember that debacle, Brian Hoyer finished the game completing 8 of 17 pass attempts and collected chunks of yardage on a couple of throws. Now think back, in the third quarter of Game 1 the Browns got on track by running a wide play action naked boot, the entire Defense went for the fake like a mice to cheese. Sure enough, the same exact naked boot and again, the entire team swarmed towards the fake as if the boat had tipped and they all slid across the deck, leaving the tight end completely wide open for a huge gain down to the 3 yard line. Don’t the players watch tape? Should they not have been alerted to the fact that the Browns just might use that exact play again?
If you’ve been watching each game, you’ll notice Cornerback Cortez Allen gets targeted by every opponent, week in week out. Not because William Gay is the second coming of Rod Woodson, but because Cortez is an easy target and the Dick Lebeau concept is to play the receiver not the ball, just keep them in front of you. The other glowing issue is that Cortez Allen is not that good, and for as long as he’s been a Steeler, it does not look as if he’s going to become a player than he already is. The 51 yard touchdown to tight end Billy Cundiff, which Allen dreadfully underplayed, ranks as one of the worst plays in the Steelers history. Both safeties were out of position and this play, it wasn’t as if it was Jerry Rice they were covering, it was a stinking no name Cleveland Browns tight end that tooled them on a simple stop and go. This type of performance against bottom feeder teams to this point makes you wonder how badly they are going to get punked when they face Andrew Luck, Drew Brees, and other playoff caliber QB’s. This defense is so comical if you added music along the lines of say ‘The Keystone Cops’, or ‘Hannah Barbara’, it would make it easier to watch.
The botched field goal early second quarter not only gave the Browns momentum, it deflated the entire Steeler team. Setting the ball down for the kicker is something as basic as tying your shoes, but for Brad Wing, let’s say he just fell a tad short on that one. Return teams are horrible, newly acquired speedster Dri Archer only got the ball out to the 14, 15, then 18 yard line respectively on kick-offs. Coach Tomlin is instructing him to run the kicks out, because he’s just so fast and will break one eventually, he hopes. Those nifty and exciting punt returns we like to watch Antonio Brown do? No need in keeping your hopes up for that to make a difference in one of these abysmal games, or anytime soon for that matter.
We won’t talk about Todd Haley except to say that aside from everyone in Steeler Nation calling for his head, he just doesn’t seem to be the right fit for this team, certainly his record of success during his tenure in Pittsburgh would support that thinking. We won’t talk about Dick Lebeau, well, because he’s Dick Lebeau, right? The argument here however is that though some players are old and past their prime, and the new and younger players still aren’t savvy enough to grasp his deep and complex schemes, it is the DC who calls the plays and instructs the players during film week. But of course we don’t want to make excuses, the players do a good enough job of that.
A real let down of a season thus far, with all the promise of success and all the pieces seemingly in place, this team has managed to underachieve in grand style. They’ve been completely dominated be their division opponents, and have been embarrassed by a lowly win-less Buccaneers team. The Coaches, the Players, no one within’ the organization can figure out how to make this situation better. Their weekly excuses and humbling of how much better their opponent was has become so redundant I would be willing to be embarrassed for them if they weren’t so lame.
No consolations with prospective Defensive Playoer Of The Year JJ Watt coming to town, followed by second year phenom Andrew Luck, gonna be a lot more activity in the W column than I care to think about.