Mike Tomlin isn’t ready to push the panic button, Matt Canada doesn’t want to “make a change for the sake of making a change,” and the commitment to the personnel and the plan on the part of both is admirable.
But the Steelers are nonetheless fast approaching the point where they’ll need to make changes for the sake of at least giving themselves a chance to win a game.
The vibe from the South Side in the wake of 1-2 and a disheartening effort against the Bengals on a couple of levels isn’t quite an Aaron Rodgers-esque “R-E-L-A-X” as the Steelers prep for the Packers this Sunday in Green Bay. But the head coach and the offensive coordinator are in agreement about the offense clicking eventually if they just stick with it long enough for the anticipated individual and collective maturations to take place.
Growing pains had been factored into the equation all along.
Remember when Ben Roethlisberger warned us it might not be pretty before the opener in Buffalo?
The problem is the offense looks as if it’s been hit with an ugly stick.
It’s not just the offensive line that’s been alarmingly below the line. Dropped passes, an under-emphasized component of last season’s collapse, have once again become a factor. The wide receivers, Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson in particular, too often haven’t been on the same page with Roethlisberger. Claypool, among others, also needs to be more committed to blocking. And tight end Eric Ebron hasn’t caught the ball or blocked at anything approaching an acceptable level.
Penalties have made a bad situation worse, and Roethlisberger, at 39, is no longer physically capable of masking such deficiencies.
He might not have been able to make this mess effective at 29.
Rock bottom was reached on fourth-and-10 from the Cincinnati 11-yard line with 3:09 remaining against the Bengals and the game still there for the taking.
So flummoxed were the Steelers at that juncture that a sideways pass behind the line of scrimmage to Najee Harris was deemed a viable option during a timeout and Roethlisberger subsequently willingly executed a play that had absolutely, positively no chance whatsoever of working.
Maybe that’s what Tyler Boyd really meant when he said the Steelers “gave up.”
They’d better hope that was rock bottom.
In the event it wasn’t, something _ anything _ will have to be done, even if it’s just throwing something at the wall in a Hail Mary effort to see if anything different sticks.
Patience, persistence and commitment are staples of the organization.
Ignore the elevator music, ride out the storm, persevere.
It’s worked before.
And it may yet work again if the defense can somehow get healthy and do what it did in Buffalo on a regular basis.
And if the special teams can win the kicking game.
But even then, the offense still has to at least help not lose the game.
Is it capable of even that much in its current configuration and state?
Steps need to be taken in Green Bay.
If not, there needs to be a response beyond continuing down a road that’s apparently leading to an inevitable destination.
Otherwise, the fine line between determined and delusional might become so blurred it’ll be impossible to tell the difference.