Pittsburgh–The Ghosts of Steelers Defensive Past: Where Do They Go From Here?

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I want people to remember that football season just started and the first game won or lost does not signify that a team is going to end up at the bottom of the barrel or win the Super Bowl. That said, it does give a look into what is going on with a team and where minor tweaks need to be made or big gaping holes need to be filled.

On that note, this blog is about the gaping hole that is the Pittsburg Steelers defense. In their opening game against the Patriots, the Steelers offense sputtered initially but the defense was practically non-existent. Notwithstanding the fact that, Mike Tomlin’s headset was not working, there are some glaring problems with the defense. Was the non-working headset another ploy by the Patriots to cheat? I don’t put anything past that group of cheating scoundrels but I digress.

Defensive Breakdown: Gone are the days of the Steeler “Steel Curtain” defense. The Steeler defense was being manhandled by the Patriots. The defensive back that stood up on the field looking into the sky when the Steeler defense caused the Patriots to fumble at the goal line was mind boggling. Had he been paying attention, he would have made an attempt to grab the ball and prevent the Patriots from recovering their own fumble and scoring. Instead he appeared to be completely confused about what he was supposed to be doing.

How hard is it to know that Tom Brady is going to throw the ball to Gronkowski? That is not hard, it’s the obvious. Why wasn’t someone assigned to Gronkowski the entire game? Gronkowski was all over the field catching passes and Pittsburgh defensive backs were ineffective. What’s up with the Pittsburgh safeties? They appeared to be in fear of Gronkowski and allowed him to catch 3 touchdowns, which is ridiculous. The Pittsburgh defense is a poor representation of what it has been in the past. I’m not saying that Pittsburgh’s management should not have allowed Dick LeBeau to resign in January it was time for him to go. LeBeau is 78 years old and the League needs younger coaches.

However, is Keith Butler the right person for the role? He has been with Pittsburg for the last 12 years under the direction of Dick LeBeau so what is he bringing to the table? If the defense does not improve, he is not the right person and should not have been promoted. I found myself shaking my head and asking the question, what is happening right now? Reading Brady’s body language and figuring out that he’s going to throw to either Gronkowski or Edelman is a no brainer so why didn’t they figure that out? However, Gronkowski is 6’6’’ and there is no one in Pittsburgh’s secondary over 6’1’’. That is a BIG problem and although on paper they have speed it was of no value against a big body like Gronkowski. Therefore, Butler has to solve this matter by using the speed of the secondary to make more picks and breakup passes.

The Steelers must improve their pass rush in order to be competitive.

Offensive Breakdown: When the offense took the field initially the OL was allowing the Patriots defense too much access to Ben. Eventually, they were able to tighten up and started blocking, which allowed Ben to get to work. There was a touchdown called back because the ref thought the receiver stepped out of bounds. I disagree with the call but it is what it is. When you compare the stats between Shady Brady and Big Ben, Ben has better stats with the exception of Brady’s three (3) touchdowns.

Clearly, if Pittsburg had a better defensive unit they would have won the game. Set forth below are the stats for Big Ben and Shady Brady:

Passing Cmp Att Yds TDs
B. Roethlisberger 26 38 351 1
Rushing Car Yds Avg TDs
De. Williams 21 127 6 0
W. Johnson 4 7 1.8 1
Receiving Rec Yds Avg TDs
A. Brown 9 133 14.8 1
H. Miller 8 84 10.5 0
Passing Cmp Att Yds TDs
T. Brady 25 32 288 4
Rushing Car Yds Avg TDs
D. Lewis 15 69 4.6 0
J. Edelman 1 9 9 0
Receiving Rec Yds Avg TDs
J. Edelman 11 97 8.8 0
R. Gronkowski 5 94 18.8 3