There was a major surge of enthusiasm for the offense after the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 12. It was the first week of the season where Pittsburgh outpaced the opposing team in yardage but analysts should have noted large asterisks with that game. For one, the Bengals were starting their backup quarterback Jake Browning for the first game of the season. More significantly, Pittsburgh’s offensive players were feeling the panic following the dismissal of offensive coordinator Matt Canada. It looked like something had finally shifted on the offense but would it stay that way?
Steelers’ offense continues to deteriorate
Based on the subject of this article, you most likely deduced that my opinion is that it is unsustainable. The offense since has completely floundered as the team failed to score 20 points against full-on tank mode New England Patriots. Part of that can be attributed to the injury to starting quarterback Kenny Pickett but for the most part, this is a team that doesn’t have a ton of talent on the offensive side of the ball.
That’s natural in the NFL due to both the establishment of a salary cap and the fact that most coaches have an offensive or defensive mindset. Pittsburgh Head Coach Mike Tomlin is a former defensive back and has been a defensive coach his whole career. Naturally, he has focused most of his energy on that side of the ball and delegated the offensive side to another coach. While this has clearly worked for Tomlin historically, he also needs to put greater emphasis on finding talent on the offensive side of the ball.
Here we find ourselves in another situation where Tomlin’s inability to control his wide receivers has severely impacted the team. Just a couple years after the trade of promising second-round receiver Chase Claypool due to behavioral issues, the team finds itself very thin at the receiver position. I’ll give Tomlin some benefit of the doubt: Claypool was recently traded by the Chicago Bears to the Dolphins after his behavior continued to deteriorate so maybe its not completely on Tomlin. The most likely cause however was that Tomlin built that behavior by not establishing consequences when his players act out.
I will admit: I have been a Mitch Trubisky fan and think he is incredibly talented. He managed to lead the Bears to a 12-4 season in 2018 after all with virtually no weapons on offense. Granted that was clearly another defensive team but there is a reason Trubisky was drafted second overall by the Bears. Against New England though he looked completely outmatched but that also had to do with bizarre play calling by Pittsburgh. For example, why are they running trick plays or anything but pounding the rock when you have the ball on the goalline?
Pittsburgh is a tough team and will most likely be able to survive the weak performance they put up against New England. Above all else though, Tomlin needs to find a person who can maximize the poor product they have established offensively.
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