The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a rough go of things since upsetting the Buffalo Bills in Week 1 of the regular season. Injuries, lack of offensive production, questionable coaching decisions and much more have led to a 1-2 record and a slew of questions rather than answers. Certainly, many changes need to be made, but to what extent and is it time to panic just yet? Let’s take a look at some controversial topics at hand and if it is time to accept the idea or brush it off as if it means nothing.
1.) Mike Tomlin is on the Hot Seat
The Steelers signed Tomlin to a three-year contract extension in the off-season. He has made many questionable decisions already this season including not going for it on fourth and short midway through the fourth quarter, down nine, against the Las Vegas Raiders. Additionally, Tomlin called a timeout with just over a minute left in the first half when the offense had the ball on the Cincinnati Bengals‘ four-yard line Sunday. While the Steelers scored on the very next play with a touchdown reception from Pat Freiermuth, it left the Bengals and Joe Burrow with enough time to score a touchdown before halftime. This was a turning point in the matchup. With that said, there are many more people on the hot seat before Tomlin. He has never had a losing season and is working with a brand new offensive line and devastating injuries that are seriously affecting his team’s strength: the defense.
2.) This is Ben Roethlisberger’s Last Season
I wrote an article just prior to the season thanking Roethlisberger for all he has done for the city of Pittsburgh. It has been an amazing career for him and a pleasure watching him perform at such a high level for so long. It is hard to believe he has elite play left in the tank after the last two weeks. I hope he proves us wrong, but it sure seems like this may be the end of the road. Getting the ball out quick isn’t even really working anymore. The offensive line is allowing just about three sacks per game and Roethlisberger certainly isn’t getting any younger. Defenses are daring him to throw the ball down field and that led to Najee Harris having 19 targets in the passing game against the Bengals. If the offense continues on this path, Roethlisberger may not even finish the season as QB1.
3.) Najee Harris is the Real Deal
Harris has not had room to run… anywhere. He has 123 rushing yards on 40 carries while totaling 149 receiving yards. If you give this kid the Steelers offensive line of five years ago, he would be something to watch. Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that this offensive line is damaged, ineffective and flat out bad so far. We expected Harris to be a workhorse and he is just that. The rookie had 28 total touches against the Bengals and fought for every single yard he gained. While he is not going to break any records or win a rushing title this year, the future is bright. The Steelers will need to seriously invest in this offensive line and find a way to turn Harris into the Pro Bowl caliber back that he is capable of being.
4.) The Offensive Game Plan Has Changed Under Matt Canada
The thought was that this offense would significantly change with Canada in charge. We have certainly seen some new things such as eligible tackles going in motion, running the ball under center and a little more play action than the last couple years. This is all well and good if it has worked. Spoiler alert: it has not. The biggest issues with the offense the last couple seasons have been a lack of big plays, quick releases and seriously questionable third down play calling. Has any of that changed thus far in 2021? Absolutely not. It is the same old song and dance. The offensive line makes it hard for Canada which is understandable, but it is still hard to watch and nothing has changed. It really makes you wonder who is pulling the strings on offense.
5.) T.J. Watt’s Extension Was Well Worth It
Watt has only played in one game from start to finish. The defense’s streak and NFL record of 75 consecutive games with a sack came to an end Sunday (ironically, just two days after “Mean” Joe Green‘s birthday). Watt makes such a difference on the defensive side of the ball. The amount of preparation and focus opposing teams have on him opens everything up for the rest of the defense. A healthy Watt increases the Steelers’ chances of winning significantly. While a playoff run seems gloomy at the moment, this defense has a staple for years to come and we have the extension to thank for it. The hope is Watt is good to go on Sunday and help an upset-minded Steelers team take down Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
What other topics are you buying or selling after Week 3? Let us know in the comments below!