I’m feeling pretty numb as I’m typing this rant. This rant was planned hours ago, but I’ve been in such a funk over the last 48 hours.
As most of you already know, I’m a lifelong Steelers fan, so the news of Ben Roethlisberger needing surgery on his right elbow and thus missing the rest of the season came as a crushing blow to me. As a matter of fact, the aforementioned funk has been slowing turning into indifference.
Look, when I made my 2019 season preview picks two weeks ago, I was in a little bit of denial. I didn’t want to believe that we would take a step back offensively without Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. I wanted to buy into the whole “addition by subtraction” bullshit.
I wanted to believe head coach Mike Tomlin had a plan. I wanted to believe the defense would play as well as it did during the preseason.
Well, step one of the highway toward reality happened during Week 1. Losing to Tom Brady and the hated New England Patriots in Foxboro is one thing. Getting your ass kicked by 30 while only scoring three points is downright shameful.
Then came the Seattle game Sunday.
The offense STILL had issues moving the ball in the first half. The running game only mustered 81 yards rushing. Seattle out-gained them 425 to 261.
The defense, while improved (racked up four sacks of Russell Wilson), did not make the stops when it mattered most. It also didn’t help itself with bad penalties (that 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty by that scrub Dan McCullers that led to a Seahawks touchdown in the first quarter was a killer).
In other words, this Steelers team hasn’t looked pretty good before Big Ben’s injury. Hell, Big Ben has played poorly himself: only completing 56.5% of his passes, no touchdown passes and an interception, with a QBR of 20.8 (which is ‘turrible’).
Now with second-year QB Mason Rudolph under center for the rest of the season, the Steelers need to do the following if they don’t want to have the first losing season of the Tomlin era:
- Become more balanced offensively. A QB’s best friend is a reliable running game (and a steady tight end). Gotta take advantage of the great offensive line and pound the rock.
- Remind JuJu Smith-Schuster that he is now a #1 receiver, and needs to play like it.
- Remind Donte Moncrief that he is being paid to CATCH the football, not drop it.
- Remind the defense that it gets paid to STOP PEOPLE.
- Hope and pray Tomlin starts earning his paycheck and make the appropriate adjustments.
Next week’s game at the San Francisco 49ers (who are 2-0, by the way) is huge. Win that game, and not all is lost on the 2019 season.
Otherwise, this is going to be a year of transition in Pittsburgh in more ways than one…