We’ve Got To Get Better
Steelers 6 – Ratbirds 26
Everyone in the Steelers Organization was helpless and confused during a Prime Time Game in Baltimore in which the hated Ratbirds came out and handed our collective asses right back to us. In what has become predictably commonplace from game to game, the Steelers got pushed around and bullied by the biggest bullies in the business. The proverbial chest pounders themselves had plenty to crow about this night, they had the confidence, the muscle, and made all the plays from start to finish, giving the Steelers another embarrassing loss at the behest of their own inadequacies. Amidst the scandal involving former Ravens running back Ray Rice and his domestic abuse case which resurfaced on Monday, the perception was the Ravens would be unfocused and timid due to all the drama. On the contrary, the Ratbirds took advantage of the opportunity to avoid a second divisional loss at home and played with intensity and purpose. The Steelers however, took the beating like a prostitute getting bitch-slapped by her pimp.
Once again the Coaching Staff stood flat footed on the sideline, helpless like a deer in the headlines, unable to make game time adjustments, motivate the team, or offer anything in the way of direction or substance. I don’t think anyone expected all the ills of last weeks struggles to be totally corrected, but you would liked to have thought the team would have been ready to roll up their sleeves and fight for rights to supremacy in the AFC North, didn’t happen.
The Ratbirds wasted no time in throwing the first punch, on the third play of the game Big Ben was corralled in the pocket by Defensive Tackle Elvis Dummervil, then came Courtney Upshaw head first in what was a vicious helmut to chest hit, lifting Ben off his feet and promptly on his ass. Big Ben unbelievably was not rendered unconscious, the penalty kept the drive going and the offense started moving the ball meticulously down the field. On a third and fourteen from the Ravens 41, Ben riffled a dart to AB all the way to the Ratbirds 19 yard line. Brown took a brutal hit, yet still held onto the ball. Typical for AB, however he had to be taken to the locker room for evaluation right after the play, a second knock out blow by Baltimore. With AB out of the game, this offense is in big trouble. The free agent signing of former Saints receiver Lance Moore isn’t showing much sign of hope, he’s become a spectator on the bench nursing whatever injury he has, which may keep him out of action for who knows how long. Darius Heyward-Bey is hardly showing the muscle of a former first round pick and veteran receiver, and third receiver Justin Brown showed what her can do when he fumbled away the opening drive in the red zone.
What makes matters even worse is this offensive line is getting pushed around and knocked on their collective asses, with strong pressure coming up the middle. Newly signed right tackle Marcus Gilbert was getting pancaked on his back by Elvis Dummervil, same struggles he had last week with Clevelands Paul Kruger. I’m completely embarrassed for Gilbert, gets a six year extension and has given up at least four sacks by being bull rushed and mauled over. To make matters even worse, there’s zero back up or second string tackle that will be able come in once eventually he leaves the game with his annual injury. You’ve got to wonder what the front office was thinking when extending this softies contract, his play thus far has been the worst of the unit, and we still have to face some serious top tier defenders as the season lingers on.
First let’s look at all the excuses that are thrown around the last several years, excuses attributed to this once dominant Defense being turned into a complete joke. First they were old and slow, everyone was over thirty and on their last leg, even strong safety phenom Troy Palomalu was reported to have lost a step or two. So the Steeler Organization released many of those old timers, even allowing five time pro bowler James Harrison to end his career in embarrassing fashion by playing with hated division rival Cincinnati. So they go out and refuel the D with young, quick, intelligent players. There are currently five first round picks starting on the Steelers Defense, including the addition of twenty five year old free safety Mike Mitchell acquired from Carolina in the off season. They have former Steeler safety Carnell Lake coaching the secondary, they brought in former all pro linebacker Joey Porter to assist with the linebackers, they have also invested in the two year rehab of Forida State linebacker Sean Spence because he’s just that good. Throw into all of that the man in charge in none other than the great guru and defensive genius Dick Lebeau, and what do you now have? The excuse now that well, they’re young. My favorite excuse is the one Coach Tomlin and the players came up with, “we need to communicate better, communicate on the field and communicate from the sidelines”. Also the most popular excuse is always that Dick Lebeau’s defense is so complicated, it takes years to learn and develop.
Thank goodness for the special teams, without them we wouldn’t have been able to put up those big 6 points.
Completely clueless, they’ve got more talent from top to bottom than most teams in the NFL. In 2014 they had free agent signings, the Draft, OTA’s, a full and seemingly successful training camp, and a pre-season. Yet the Steelers Coaching Staff, with the addition of former all pro Joey Porter, can’t prepare their players, can’t make game time adjustments, and can’t guide this team in the right direction week after week. Perhaps instead of trying to find the right players to put on the field, the front office should be in search of the right coaches to put on the sidelines.
It’s becoming increasing more difficult to watch these games, watching the Defense get pushed around like rag-dolls and giving up long drives in embarrassing fashion. The organization has made a concerted effort towards improving the situation on the field, an offense geared around Todd Haley working in perfect harmony with Big Ben, two first round picks on the offensive line complimented by a Hall Of Fame Coach in Mike Munchak, and a grand total of five, count them, FIVE first round selections on Defense. Yet they are quickly becoming the worst defense in the entire NFL, playing so poorly you’ve got to wonder if they can get better. The Ratbirds have transitioned too, just like every other team in the NFL. No more tough guy Ray, big Ed Reed is long gone, and they’ve lost their starting running back for the unforeseeable future. Yet the Ratbirds come out to handle their business, well prepared, well coached, playing with intensity and a sense of purpose. The Steelers on the other hand seemed to be wallowing in a deep abyss of mediocrity and uncertainly as to what their identity is.
In what looked like on paper to be a strong, young, fresh unit with a new sense of life and desire, they’ve continued to be the same so-so, stumbling-bumbling bunch of softies as they were last year when they went 8-8. At this point it doesn’t look like a better record is within’ reach, even at this early point in the season. They say they need to get better, all we can do is wait and see. Is it possible?