Three Things The Steelers Must Fix Coming Out Of The Bye

Going into the bye week, 5-2 is indeed a respectable record and after week 3, any Steelers fan would be ecstatic with that right now. The 5-2 record could just as easily be 2-5 or worse if not for a few big plays. The Steelers really have not been dominated, nor have they dominated themselves. Going into the bye, there are 3 major things the Steelers must fix as they head into a crucial 4 game stretch following the bye. Below are those 3 major things:

Kickoff Coverage‎ – This falls under the captain obvious statement of the day, especially now that in two straight games the Steelers have allowed returns for touchdowns. Andre Frazier has not been healthy and is a huge player as far as coverage on kickoffs. Joe Burnett, Arnold Harrison and Mike Wallace are a few of the guys that have not been effective on the coverage team. Carey Davis has also proven to be effective on the coverage team in the past, but has been inactive for 2 straight games now. Couple all of this with Jeff Reed\’s inability to kick the ball deep and it will continue to be a disaster unless a different personal package is implemented.

Mendenhall Fumbling – a 5.4 yards per carry average is useless when you turn the ball over, especially when it is deep in the opponents territory. Mendenhall had fumbling problems during his rookie pre-season and they have resurfaced once again. Throughout his college and pro career, the way he holds the football is asking for a fumble. There is no doubt he has the ability to be a solid running back, but ball security needs to be focused on more in the weekly preparation.

3rd Down Defense – The good news about the Steelers defense is the return of safety Troy Polamalu to the lineup and the ability to force turnovers. The biggest downfall remains the ability to get off of the field on third downs. For the season thus far, the Steelers opponents are 42 of 97 on third downs. This comes out to a 43.3% opponents success rate on third downs. For the 2008 season, the Steelers opponents were 71 of 226. This was a much healthier 31.4% success rate. While that number will be hard to match, a more respectable 33%-36% will go a long way in keeping the defense off the field and the Steelers offense on the field.

  • Bill

    Could not have said it better. The defense has indeed been playing better, but it bothers me that they can not get off of the field on those key 3rd downs. I think Rashard needs to carry a football around for 2 weeks straight and every team mate try to knock it out of his grip. As far as the kick coverage, I get a sick feeling every time Reed is about to kick. Hopefully Tomlin can fix it. great post.


  • Mario Lopez

    The thing that scares me the most was the 3rd & 18 we let old man river & the purple people get away with yesterday. Too many blown assignments in the secondary. The 2010 draft should be all DEFENSE, with the O line playing better….

  • Joe

    1- Must continue to blitz while keeping one-on-one coverage down the field.

    2- Must continue to diversify their schemes on offense (just like we saw the reverse against the vickings).

    3- Must not abandon the passing game even if they have to rely occasionally on short yardage gain.

    3- Must improve their special team.

  • dan

    i think their pass defense needs to be improved