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Panic is not a word generally associated with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Quite possibly the most stable franchise in the sport. They have had three main coaches in more than half a century. They have won six Super Bowls. Their current coach has not experienced any loss season.
But the level of anxiety on the banks of the Monongahela River is mounting as Mike Tomlin’s streak of no-lose seasons is in serious jeopardy. After a 29-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns led by Jacobi Brissett Thursday night, talk show radio in Steel City will no doubt focus on the idea of removing quarterback Mitch Trubesky and replacing him with rookie rookie Kenny Beckett in the first round.
But the truth is, Trubisky’s limitations aren’t the Steelers’ only problem. Or their biggest problem. This team has real problems on both sides of the ball – and changing under the center is not going to fix it.
Earlier this week, while appearing in The Mike Tomlin Show On the team’s YouTube channel, the Pittsburgh head coach indicated that he’s not considering making major changes to the starting lineup – including in the middle.
“I’m not even in the neighborhood to have such discussions, man,” Tomlin said, Via Bob Quinn from Steelers Nation. “I’m more concerned about our collective growth and development and what we’re collecting in terms of what we’re willing to do to engineer victory. [Trubisky is] Just a part of it.”
Tomlin’s patience was tested Thursday night with a game that was in many ways a carbon copy of Pittsburgh’s Week 2 loss to the New England Patriots.
The good news for the Steelers offense is that the team put in a major season in yardage. The bad news is that the peak of the season was 308 yards. Thursday’s Pittsburgh entered the AFC’s last game in full attack, and this week’s total wouldn’t help that arrangement much.
Does Trubisky have his share of responsibility for another lackluster offensive attempt? surely. His Thursday numbers were a testament to his mediocre performance — 20 completions in 32 attempts for 207 yards and a passer rating of 81.1. Once again, Trubisky flatly refused To attack the middle of the field.
This is not new. It’s been a topic all season.
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Here are Steelers QB Mitchell Trubisky’s charts passing through Week 2 through the following year’s NFL stats: pic.twitter.com/Q63PmTOf0L
But blaming Trubisky only for this offense’s inability to average 300 yards of offense three weeks into the season is unfair. There is a lot of blame to go around.
Pittsburgh entered Week 3 with the seventh-worst ground game in the NFL, averaging 83 yards per game. That number would bump up a bit after the Steelers mustered 104 yards on 22 buggies, but their ground game looked pathetic compared to Cleveland’s.
Linebacker Nagy Harris has yet to get into any sort of groove this season, and Week Three has been no exception. He only gained 3.7 yards per bag in his 15 bags—and that was actually his best average of the season. As the week approached, he averaged less than three yards a pop.
Gregory Schamus / Getty Images
This is not good guys.
Of course, Trubisky and Harris’ conflicts can be traced back to another problem. The Steelers have one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL. In the latest offensive line rankings, Pro Football Focus’s Sam Monson ranks ahead of Pittsburgh 28th place in the league.
Yes, that streak only allowed one bag against Brown. But he said Sack came third in the second inning, and Pittsburgh was again unable to open holes in the running game.
Lest you think he will be excused, attack coordinator Matt Canada deserves the blame as well. Center Reports
That some in the organization are growing frustrated with the OC for a second year, play calls in Canada have fallen back on again. When Canada actually found something she did The action (using first-half tempo), completely disappeared after the break—and Pittsburgh’s momentum faded with it.
But wait! there is more!
For decades, the Steelers have been a team associated with fearsome and awesome defenses. But just like their ability to constantly move the ball, it’s now gone too.
Associated Press/David Richard
Last year, the Steelers provided the worst defense in the NFL, allowing 146.1 yards per game. This year, he “improved” that number by two games — to 22nd in the league with 128.5 yards per contest.
After facing brown, this number is going in the wrong direction. Nick Chubb, Karim Hunt and Browns cut the Steelers for 171 yards to the ground. Sure, the Browns have a tendency to do that, but Week 3 was a repeat of Week 2 against the Butts – a worn Steelers defense being successfully run over and over in the second half.
The pass defense kicks off leaks, too. Last week Nelson Agulor was posting a stat line 6/110/1. On Thursday, wide receiver Amari Cooper (7/101/1) and David Ngoku (9/89/1) both had big matches.
No one will confuse Mac Jones with Jacobi Brissett, Joe Montana and Tom Brady. But both had success against the Steelers. With edge armor TJ Watt alongside a shredded pectoral muscle, Pittsburgh bred near no-pass lunge.
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Jacobi Brissett was pressed in just 4 of 33 touchdowns in the Browns’ 29-17 win over the Steelers, the lowest pressure he’s faced (12.1%) in a game of his career.
🔸 2017-2021: 35.0% (second highest number in the NFL)
🔸 2022: 19.8% (ninth-lowest in the NFL) pic.twitter.com/ysziWSIMap
This lack of pressure exposes an average group of phenomena. Pittsburgh is being slowly and methodically dismantled.
The Steelers are losing the third-place deal, converting by a much smaller percentage than their opponent in the past two weeks. They are also losing the possession time battle by nearly 20 minutes in their last two games.
They are not overcome in one aspect of the game. lost in one position. It is everywhere. on either side of the ball.
It didn’t take Tomlin long to make it clear that there are no big changes coming for the fourth week.
This won’t make fans happy, but it’s not unexpected. Tomlin is not the type of trainer to do knee changes. The Steelers are not that kind of team.
Or maybe he realizes that pulling out Trubisky or kicking out Canada, on some level, would just be rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. He probably knows that Pittsburgh’s problems go beyond Trubisky. and Canada. and crime.
He probably knows that these Steelers are a flawed team, and that those flaws are being exposed.
And he might know that the unfortunate streak of unfortunate seasons might be a toast.