The Steelers lost at home to the Jacksonville Jaguars 30-9 in one of the worst losses in Heinz Field history. The offense was a disaster and the defense wasn’t much better. What have we learned from this game? Let’s look at the winner and losers:
Throughout this season, Antonio Brown has been the only player on the offense that has been consistently good. Yesterday, he had 10 receptions on 19 targets for 157 yards. Still you can’t blame him for being frustrated with the offense. About that…
Ben Roethlisberger/The offense/The offensive line/Playcalling
Where do we begin with the offense? Let’s start with Ben Roethlisberger. Yes, he had one of the worst days of his career – 5 interceptions, 2 resulting in pick-6. But not all of them were his fault as 2 of them were deflected. That makes 3 interceptions that were his fault.
Ben has been off all year – poor decisions, inaccurate throws. Is he now too old? Even he said after the game :Maybe I don’t have it anymore”. He probably doesn’t mean that, but what if it’s true? What if his skills have greatly diminished? What does this team do now?
How about the play calling? The Jaguars were LAST in the league in run defense and FIRST in pass defense. So what do the Steelers do? They pass mostly. Le’Veon Bell had 15 rushes. Part of that was dictated by being behind, but that’s still not enough.
The criticism of the play calling is that they’re not throwing downfield enough and utilizing Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. Whose fault is that? Ben? The wide receivers? Todd Haley? Is it because there are too many weapons and Haley is trying to make everyone happy? Is it because Haley is more concerned with showing how smart he is rather than calling the most effective play?
What about the offensive line? This is supposed to be one of the best offensive lines in the league but we haven’t seen that yet consistently.
So how does the offense get fixed? Maybe realize Ben isn’t in his prime. Maybe it’s not worrying about making everyone happy and simplifying the offense. There is way too much talent on the offense to be this bad.
At the beginning of the year I said Bryant was the key to this offense because his deep threat can take the pressure off Antonio Brown. That hasn’t happened. So far this year Bryant has 10 receptions for 183 yards and 1 touchdown. That’s not good enough. Part of that is on Ben, but Bryant is not getting it done.
The defense has been mostly good this year, and we wouldn’t talk about it at all if they offense did their job, but this was another game where the run defense was awful. The Jaguars had 231 yards rushing with 2 touchdowns. Leonard Fournette had 181 yards.
Why is this happening? It’s not talent. This is the most talented defense the Steelers have had in years. It has to be experience. The linebackers lost two veterans in Lawrence Timmons and James Harrison. Most of the problems seem to be the defense being too aggressive which causes big holes. This is a problem that can be corrected, but it’s pretty embarrassing when the other team can run effectively even in obvious running situations.
Lifelong Pittsburgh sports fan here.