It’s no secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ start to this season has not been the start the team or Steeler Nation had in mind. Pittsburgh had the toughest schedule going into the season, and the last few weeks have been an absolute buzz saw.
A combination of subpar quarterback and offensive line play are at the forefront of the team’s woes right now, but multiple injuries sprinkled throughout the team from Week 2 to now have largely contributed to this three-game skid the team finds themselves on. In just four short weeks, the team has had to battle through losing Tyson Alualu for the season, the contagious groin injuries that has plagued six different players now, forcing five combined defensive starters to miss at least one game, as well as being without Stephon Tuitt to this point. All of this combined has not been conducive to a winning formula and thus here they stand at 1-3 and last place in the AFC North.
These injuries have really affected the team’s pass rush among other things. It has not really gotten home the way they’ve wanted it to since Week 1, coincidentally the team’s last and only win on the season. This last week in a loss to the Green Bay Packers, they seemed to be getting back to where they wanted to, but couldn’t get there consistently enough to make Aaron Rodgers uncomfortable the same way they did Josh Allen. After coming off a sack-less week against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3, the team was able to tally 3 sacks, but again it often felt like Rodgers had plenty of time to throw, and with this defense, and the personnel they have, that’s simply not good enough.
Defensive captain Cameron Heyward and highest paid defensive player in the NFL TJ Watt are certainly not satisfied, and neither should the rest of unit be. The “three headed monster” of Watt, Alex Highsmith, and Melvin Ingram need to get back to their Week 1 form and flat out pin their ears back and get after Teddy Bridgewater, Drew Lock, or whoever else may be behind center this weekend when the Denver Broncos roll into Pittsburgh. Denver has been playing good football to start the season, finding themselves at 3-1 after suffering their first loss of the season last week at the hands of Pittsburgh’s AFC North rival the Baltimore Ravens. Denver has been running the ball well, currently sitting at 11th in the league in rushing yards per game. They also protect the ball extremely well. Bridgewater has not thrown an interception or coughed up a fumble thus far this season, and the team has just 3 total turnovers on the season. This means the defense is going to have to be disruptive and force mistakes. They are not going to beat themselves, you have to create havoc, and that starts with the pass rush. The pass rush getting home will only create better opportunities for the rest of the defense. Tipped balls, hurried throws, forcing the ball out — it starts and ends with the front seven.
I believe they can and will get it going this weekend, and if they do, it could hopefully mean brighter days ahead for the team. As I mentioned, the offense has its issues to work through, but if they can lean on the defense and keep the game close, they can hopefully get it going and get back on track as a whole. There’s plenty of football left, and this team seems eager to prove to themselves and this fan base they aren’t quitting quite just yet.
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