With The Steelers Season In Flames – Ten Questions That Demand An Answer

By Michael K Reynolds

Not only have the Pittsburgh Steelers thinned their playoff chances down to a mathematical miracle over the weekend, they did so with historic flare. With the worst defensive effort in Black and Gold history, the team is not only out of it, but appears to be drifting in the wrong direction.

Before the ship completely turns to timbers on the rocks, it’s time for a close examination. Here are ten questions which demand an answer.

1. How does a Hall of Fame defensive coordinator consistently look over matched against the New England Patriots?
In Coach Dick LeBeau the Steelers have been blessed with one of the greatest defensive coordinators of all time. For this, our hats are tipped in gratitude. But a disturbing question still exists. How is it that with few exceptions Coach LeBeau has gotten outfoxed, out-coached and pretty much bully whipped by Bill Belichick through the years?

2. Why doesn’t Ike Taylor chase down his mistakes?
Although Ike Taylor is graying around the edges, he has proven this season he remains capable to cover the top receivers in the league. Which means he still has elite speed. So why is it that he never chases down his mistakes? How many times this year have we seen Ike jogging behind a receiver after he gets burnt rather than giving it his all? Ike…that’s not “swagging” that’s “slagging”.

3. Why don’t we care about kick-off returns?
Why don’t we treat every kick-off as a chance to impact the game like so many other teams? True. Felix Jones was able to get a strong return at the beginning of the match. But for the rest of the game it seemed like the scheme for kick-off returns (and there were quite a few) was to squat in the end-zone. Why not keep a Reggie Dunn (or find someone else) who at least appears anxious and capable to return kicks?

4. Why do we lose to bad teams?
Yesterday’s game in Foxboro was one most Steelers fans anticipated would be a tough game on the schedule. Perhaps the Titans weren’t a gimme. But the Vikings? The Raiders? Did you notice that Nick Foles and the hapless Eagles lit up the Raiders for seven TD’s one week after the Steelers went to Oakland and laid an egg? Our inability to handily win against poor teams has plagued this team for years and the coaching staff must be accountable.

5. What did Jonathan Dwyer do to get treated so poorly?
Jonathan Dwyer delivered just about every time he has touched the ball this year. This was true last season, in the pre-season and even in the few opportunities he has gotten during this regular season. So how is it possible he is not getting more opportunities and is inexplicably behind Felix Jones in the depth chart? He’s young. He’s talented. And now he’s giving great effort. Isn’t it time to give him the respect he deserves and pair him up for the future with LeVeon Bell?

6. Why do we squander timeouts?
For years, the coaches have squandered timeouts as a result of confusion, slow play-calling and clock mismanagement. After wasting a critical one in the second half last week against the Raiders, which arguably cost the Steelers the game, you would expect timeouts this week to be treated like gold. But no! Two more timeouts were used up recklessly in the second half this week, even while the game was still in play.

7. Isn’t it Shamarko Time Yet?
It’s clear that Ryan Clark‘s best days are behind him, and fading fast in the rear-view mirror. He’s been a warrior for the Steelers for years, but his speed is clearly suspect in the passing game and the years of stingers and head ringers seem to have affected his willingness to fill the hole against the run. And what about future Hall of Famer Troy Polamalu? He’s no longer fast enough to make up for his recklessness and his off-sides have grown tiresome. Can Troy Polamalu reinvent himself, much as Rod Woodson once did, and start playing safety…well…a little safer? If not, he’s going to continue to look like someone desperate to prove he’s still worth a defensive player of the year salary. Either way, isn’t it Shamarko Thomas time now?

8. Why did it take so long to realize Cameron Heyward is a significant upgrade over Ziggy Hood?
One player on the defense this year who has really flashed is Cameron Heyward. So why did it take so long to discover he was a major upgrade over Ziggy Hood? In these days of free agency the Steelers must come to realize you don’t have the luxury of “developing” first round pick defensive ends for three years. Who else on the roster is on the sidelines who deserves to be on the field? Should Steve McLendon move to end allowing Hebron Fangupo or Al Woods on the field at the nose?

9. Why can’t we build an offensive line and keep it healthy?
When comparing Tom Brady‘s career to that of Ben Roethlisberger one thing stands out: Ben has never played behind a great line. Look through Brady’s highlight reels and you’ll see some of the most magnificent pockets ever seen on a football field. For years the Steelers’ offensive line has been in rebuild mode and for all of that effort and expense we have a functional unit duct taped together with castoffs from other teams. David DeCastro is a keeper, but beyond him, it’s a line devoid of stars. What about Maurkice Pouncey? With his contract year coming up soon is he really going to be worth an All-Pro cap hit? He has the talent and potential, but are there 40 million dollars separating him and Fernando Velasco? Or is Velasco kept and the money saved used to get a proven left-tackle talent. That’s a question the Steelers will soon have to determine.

10. Are we allowed to use the word “transition” now?
The Steelers are now 2-6 and have lost 13 of their last 17 games in regular season, not to mention their 0-4 preseason record. Is it now safe to call the team “in transition”? Sure, we want to try to win every game each week. That’s the Steelers way, and the coaches and players are fighting for their careers. But can’t we do so as we rebuild for the next years of greatness? Isn’t it time to look toward the future and prioritize getting our young players on the field?

About the Author

Michael K. Reynolds

Longtime Pittsburgh Steelers fanatic and author of the acclaimed Heirs of
Ireland series. MichaelKReynolds.com

  • JR

    I agree with letting the younger guys see the field this year. It is best for players like Thomas to play now. If Lebeau’s system is as complicated as everyone makes it out to be then I think getting the game experience will be valuable.

  • Aric Brown

    Polamalu is playing the best football we’ve seen out of him in years… other than that spot on

  • Steelers have been losing to teams they should beat for going on 25 years this is not the first time.

    *I remember them losing to the Jets in 03 6-0 I was so pissed.* Happens a lot but it also happens around the league. Why couldn’t the Pats have their way with a secondary PGH torched? How did Jason Campbell throw for 555 and 5 tds on Baltimore?

    John Dwyer showed up looking like he was trying out for guard.

    If I could ask ten questions I would ask:

    1. Before cutting Drew Butler why not have a tryout instead of anointing someone?

    2. Why was Danny Smith so sought after by us coverage has improved but returns have not?

    3. Why is our #1 WR returning punts?

    4. Why is our offensive coordinator not running the ball to slow the game down more?

    5. Why was Ryan Clark not benched three-four weeks ago? There is not one starting running back in the NFL you can arm tackle yet he tries all the time?

    6. Is it time to abandon the 3-4 if not and it is so varied how come everyone knows what Lebeau is going to do?

    7. Why was Ike restructured?

    8. Art why exactly why Arians fired and Ben still gets brutalized?

    9. If we were so concerned about getting younger at QB but not in the secondary?

    10. Why did we hire a zone blocking coach and we don’t do it?

  • Jason

    I respectfully disagree that Troy is playing good football. Does he sometimes still make a “wow” play? Yes, but he is constantly out of position and in his younger years he was athletic and fast enough to take chances and recover if he guessed wrong. He simply doesn’t have the speed to play that reckless style any longer. Lebeau and Tomlin refuse to discipline veterans for bonehead plays and instead punish guys like Jarvis and the permanent fixture of Tomlins doghouse Dwyer for “below the line preparation.” If their preparation is below the line what would we call Clark and Polamalu’s preparation in this game? Brady worked them like they were rookies and spare me the it’s Tom Brady crap cuz he’s looked bad most of the year. 55pts and 610 yds. Thanks for everything Lebeau now there’s the door.

  • I don’t think so on that, he has been making a lot of coverage mistakes and with Clark playing like his knees are on borrowed time you can’t have that. Maybe have him play a more traditional deep role oops forgot he has lost a step or two still love seeing him smash a WR.

  • You can’t throw out a Hof coach/player you just kindly tell him he is part of an outsourcing project, you are going in a different direction.

  • Mike question if Velasco was so good why was he not snapped up Baltimore has center problems as well?

  • Alan Felicia

    Who cares about Baltimore?

  • cencalsteeler

    Why is it that when Haley pulls out the gadget plays and gets creative with his offense, you see success (the two wins and the second half of yesterdays game). But, then somewhere we end up going back to the offense that produces minimal points, lots of punts, three and outs, and a few field goals?

  • I was not asking you was I

  • Ben Anderson

    Velasco was retained by the Titans as a 2nd round tendered RFA ($2.3M) and cut in the final round of cuts. He wanted to go someplace he would have a chance to compete for the starter’s role. So, he waited for someone to get hurt.

  • Thanks

  • HopalongCassidy

    Too many questions. It’s time for a new GM and a new coaching staff who will clean house and make the necessary changes. It can be done. Look at KC and Indy as examples.

  • Alan Felicia

    In the words of the great Jim Mora – “Playoffs? Playoffs? Are you kidding me?!”
    At this point, just would like Pittsburgh to finish strong and be spoilers to Cincy. Am I asking to much?
    5.) Bell is the future, while Jones have better hands, better blocker, and has more speed. Thus why Dwyer is 3rd on the depth chart. He’s a nice little sparkplug.
    7.) Its time for Thomas to start! Wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t start against Buffalo.
    8.) The real question, Is Hood a Bust? Heyward is on the right track. Hopefully Colbert and his staff find him another End and NT with a motor much like Heyward.
    9.) Remember all the off-field trouble Roethlisberger had in the past. Well, this is God’s way of punishing him. I’m kidding, sort of.
    10.) The defense have been ranked #18 or worse in the past season (2011- present) as well as ranked in the bottom 5 in Turnovers since 2010. Yeah, I thought they were in transition from the beginning of the year.

  • disqus_5IWNhVT8DI

    Great article. Number 9 is huge. A QB gains confidence when he doesn’t have to worry about his line crumbling in front of him. Ben does a great job of scrambling. I couldn’t imagine this team without Ben. The pats have always had a great offensive line in front of Brady.

  • Alan Felicia

    Then what’s your point. Or, why do you care if Baltimore didn’t sign him?
    Velasco was cut at the end of training camp b/c of salary and Titans went with a rookie. Ravens already made decision on starting center (Gradkowski, backup QB Bruce’s brother).
    What are you a Raven fan masking as a Steeler fan?

  • CrazyTerry

    I said this in prior weeks, not just after yesterday’s debacle. Troy has become a style over substance player. He looks real flashy out there. But how many passes has he defended? He has one INT. During the SB 43 time period, he would be jumping routes picking off QBs like Palmer, or would be taking finger tip catches (SD game) or run stride for stride back towards the deep end of the field and jump high to snap an INT (TN opener a few years ago). That Troy is not in evidence in the slightest. He is a lighter LB. That’s what he is to compensate for marginal backup caliber players playing the second ILB spot and TImmons not playing up to his paygrade.

  • TheBlitz

    I agree with you. He’s the best safety on this team. True he lost a step or two but he remains our best player in the secondary.

    He is getting a lot of blame today but at the beginning of the season he was one of the few bright spot if not the only bright spot on this team. Because of the lack of talent and inexperience on this team he has to play a lot of roles (FS, SS, CB, ILB) to compensate and minimize others mistakes.

    If people get their wishes and he is traded or benched or cut, he will be sorely missed. He is as healthy as he’s ever been within the last 3 or 4 years and he will bounce back from this bad performance. Even Peyton Manning and Brady have bad days in the office.

  • chris ward

    Agree with Dwyer every time he is in the game he makes plays. Is one of the few Steelers that has played with some fire and passion.

  • CrazyTerry

    Starks was clearly not the worst LT last year, No one picked him up. NYG was DESPERATE for RBs and yet did not pick up Dwyer when he was available. He is clearly an upgrade over what they have. Players slip through the cracks. Velasco has regressed a little(maybe our OL coaches coach players down instead of up), but I agree, the downgrade from Pouncey to him would be offset by the cap savings in paying for a PROVEN good free agent LT . Hell, they could have paid for Starks to go to the same fitness facility he went to last time and Starks probably would have shown up motivated and in shape this year if he felt wanted by this team. Starks doesnt have the best work ethic, but damn, he is twice as good as any LT the Steelers tried out since John Jackson left.

  • Wait until Andrew Luck gets his next contract at 20 million per franchise QB’s hurt.

    And Kansas City already had an extremely good defense in places and pieces on offense they just needed a quarterback who didn’t fumble or throw a pick every play.

    Colbert has two super bowl wins three appearances to his name as well as drafting a franchise QB. Who is the best of his class. And Tomlin is in the midst of what may be his first losing season.

    All I am going to tell your torch and pitch fork carriers is be careful what you wish for, you just might get it and I will be laughing if it blows up in your face.

  • CrazyTerry

    Dwyer s the best blocker on the team. So why the hell is Felix Jones taking up snaps when the OL is struggling. If you have a good OL, then go with Felix who can be used on pass routes . Dwyer also is the most powerful RB on the team. When he does not overthink, he is an asset over the others if you can trust just two of your OL guys to open up a hole for him. Bell was excellent in some long 3rd down runs, but what he lacked was that final bulldoze which would have gotten that extra half yard or so for a first down conversion.

  • Ken

    Great points. Personnel has become a huge problem for us and its hard to face. We have players that are or have become overrated. Ryan Clark??? where are you. Levon Bell – run harder !!!! Emanuel Sanders – is not a second level receiver. He is a third receiver talent. He constantly doesn’t make the play we need him to. The leadership of Hines Ward is very missed. We don’t have the leaders we need..

  • Ghost_rider60

    TP should be a linebacker, he is not afraid to hit and he is faster than every linebacker we have. He has lost too much speed to be a safety

  • Daniel

    I know the players ultimately make or not make the plays on the field, but this season was somewhat doomed from some actions by the coaches and front office personnel. A lot of inconsistencies led me to think player evaluation was done so poorly this off season (feels like the coaches slept all through the preseason). Who cuts their best preseason RB (Dwyer, at that point we hadn’t seen Bell ), and then after a few weeks cut their starter (Redman), only to sign the guy they released before the season started? And guess what? After Foote went down, it looks like the same thing (or close enough) happened with Kion Wilson and Vince Williams. Did I mention the LT position? How about the punter position? Where is the player evaluation that should have happened all preseason???
    We lost Wallace, but last time I checked Brown and Sanders have some speed as well. The offense doesn’t seem to attack teams vertically until we are a couple of touchdowns behind. That offense isn’t cutting it.
    The defense isn’t the same. You know there is trouble in Pittsburgh when we can’t stop the run or pressure the QB. I don’t think Troy has lapsed so badly, I just think he can’t be the same Troy due to lack of pressure. Guessing on plays is what made Troy, Troy! These days QBs have time and a half to catch him guessing. Maybe next season would be better.

  • Run Harder 4.6 yards a carry?

  • CrazyTerry

    This is where LeBeau messed up big time. He didn’t try out Mclendon and Heyward more often last year. If you did, we would know
    1) Heyward is not a bust lke Hood and to extend him plus Heyward would be further along in his development.
    2) mclendon is not ready to be a good quality NT. But he has his plus points and would make for a Hoke type stop gap starter / excellent backup. Whatever they will find out this year, they could have found out about Mclendon last year itself.

    also, Lebeau sticking with Farrior way too long a few years ago led to a domino of delayed development of other young ILB prospects leading to this crap we have now. And please no Sean Spence scenarios. There is no guarantee he would have been a star and injuries happen even if he would have turned out to be good.
    Lebeau flailed around ever since Troy hasn’t been the same. The first big warning sign came when Troy went down in the year after SB 43. it’s like lebeau had no answers for a D that choked away a few wins. Actually that was one of the worst years of coaching that I saw from Tomlin, Arians (That infamous Browns Thursday game being the absolute nadir where I witnessed one of the worst performances by an offensive coach), Lebeau(use of Farrior in the Cinci loss where he looked lost on passing downs started the doubts about the D). Lebeau is a great coach. Hell, Art Rooney Jr was a great football mind and he was fired by his brother at one time. It happens.

  • I would give half an up vote for mentioning Wallace tied for 70th among qualifying receivers?

  • Yep after 10 years at one position where going to move you here and teach you a new one if they did that then I am on board fire everyone.

  • He is terrible at screens takes to long to get up to full speed that’s why.

  • Daniel

    I didn’t mention him because he’s much better than the receivers we have now, I mentioned him because he’s faster and can definitely stretch the field.

  • Yeah but he is not much faster than Wheaton and is a poor route runner. Can only run the go route so many times.

  • Daniel

    You are agreeing with me here. Can only run go routes, hence can stretch the field. I don’t watch the steelers in practice everyday ( I don’t know if you do either), hence can’t attest to Wheaton being faster or as fast as Wallace. Lets say he is, again, you are making my point. Why didn’t we attack vertically with him then (well before he got the finger injury).

  • CW

    Some coaches are simply weak against certain other coaches. LeBeau has a weakness when it comes to Belicheck. We know that. But for example Marv Levy almost every time beat the Don Shula led Dolphins into the ground. Does that make Don Shula a bad coach that Marv Levy had his number?

    The answer is no.

    But the truth is the Patriots don’t have the Steelers’ number Belicheck or no Belicheck. It’s Tom Brady that often as not has this team’s number. The Steelers when going against the Bradyless Pats with or without Belicheck on the field usually win the game. When Brady is gone, which is not likely to be too far into the future, the Steelers will probably start beating them again like they once did.

  • sean mcmartin

    Tomlin should now be in the Rooney doghouse. Any Owner would be pissed with the lack of execution this team displays.

  • GunsDontKillWoodleyKills

    11. Why cant this team find a capable punter? (I know that’s just the tip of the iceberg, but its been a problem for years)

  • Shannon Stephenson

    Have you seen him try to blitz? He isn’t strong enough to be a LB. He is awful is coverage and he guesses wrong all the time and is making more mistakes then he is making good plays.

  • Eric

    Question 12. Why did the Steelers focus on zone blocking in camp and fail to use it except a small number of times when it counted.

  • Eric

    Question 13: What is going on with the conditioning program. The Steelers have had a disproportionate amount of injuries the past 3 years

  • Eric

    Question 14: Why does Sanders have at least 2 catchable drops per game?

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I like the #8 question. It is clear the McLendon is not a 3/4 NT but can be serviceable. We need to see if Woods or Fangupo, like you said , can step in. We have to get control of other teams run game.

  • Brandon James

    Injuries seem to be under much better control this year. Just to throw that out there.

  • CrazyTerry

    I have lost the respect I had for Haley’s playcalling before he came here. Having said that, his playcalling has been much better in 4 of the last 5 games. Even Whizenhunt had a brain cramp in yesterday’s SD loss. SD Chargers were 1st and goal at the freaking one yard line and there were some curious calls. Very few OCs have perfect games. Haley had some curious calls early inthe game which derailed a drive. But he is in a cant win situation. He called passes on 3rd down sometimes and Ben or his WRs took turns messing up. When he called runs, his OL would mess up. If Arians had the same WRs and a beat up Ben who is misfiring on some passes he would have made easily 2 years ago (example: the missed pass to Heath on a crucial 3rd down), that offense would have been even worse.

    I will give Haley credit. He didnt lose the game with those damn screen passes. So he hopefully learned someting from his past mistakes.

  • CrazyTerry

    I would hire a new GM first. Then let him pick his coach. And then let that coach pick his assistants. If I were Tomlin, I would ask Lebeau to start delegating more stuff to Butler so we can find out if Butler has what it takes before we waste a year finding out in the future.

  • CrazyTerry

    He is a better blocker than the other RBs. You gotta play Bell, But I would play Felix only if Dwyer gets banged up.

  • CrazyTerry

    Bell ran really good, but he was weak on finishing the final yard of the run. There were two occasions where we didn’t get the first down on the next down, but we could have gotten it on the earlier down if Bell could have moved that defnder just a half yard or so.

  • CrazyTerry

    I say thata lot, but only half seriously. Think about it. See how Troy got stood up on Pryor’s 93 yard run. That is Troy’s fate if he is a LB full time.

  • CrazyTerry

    So fast that K Lewis easily covered him in the Saints Dolphins game. It’s not all about pure speed.

  • Eric

    Better than what? Last year missed 1 or more full games due to injury: Ben, Woodley, Harrison, Troy, Ike, Miller, Decastro, Adams, Colon, and Spence off the top of my head. This year, Foote, Pouncey, Allen, DeCastro, JJones, Bell, Wheaton, DJohnson, (does Levi Brown count?), Stephens-Howling, Spaeth. Interesting note, the top 3 draft picks were all hurt both last year and this year.

  • CrazyTerry

    Wallace hasnt made a damn difference wit the Doiphins. What Steelers need are Broncos type WRs and TEs. A Boldin type WR gives the Steelers more value with a QB like Ben. Wallace is more suitable in a Saints type offense.

  • CrazyTerry

    You cant teach hands. What I want to know is why not make the best of his talents and use him as a kick returner full time? And dont use him as a sideline WR. Use him in space to get a short pass and run after the catch. That is where he excelled early in his career. I noticed Ben is not moving that well in the pocket anymore either. He is shifting back and forth in that pocket space but not rolling out at all to buy him and his WRs some time and space. That is the kind of Ben Sanders can adjust to better. Sanders is a mediocre WR otherwise.

  • Brandon James

    Last year we had 54 games missed due to injury, not including IR. Last year our first round pick tore an ACL. This year Jarvis missed a game, there are little knicks, but nothing near the injuries that we had last season. I can’t think of a single player playing with a nagging injury? Last year we had woodley, polomalu, taylor, brown, ben.

  • Berlusconi

    I don’t know about questions 1-9 but concerning question 10: I think they just are not good at it. When you try it once and you fail, maybe you give it a second shot, but when it is still not working after that?… They should have focused on pass protection, we could use that.

  • cencalsteeler

    Very good comments and I agree about Dwyer. I posted earlier the third and shorts running Bell back there were lucky first downs. Put Johnson at fullback and Dwyer at halfback. Hell, a wishbone with Bell out in the flats would have kept the defense guessing. And that is my point. When Haley is creative, he is successful.

  • Daniel

    Why are you guys so irked by the mention of “Wallace”? If you read my comment and understand it, you would see its by no means a praise for Wallace. I said I’m sure Brown and Sanders can stretch the field, but why don’t we do it till we are a couple of touchdowns down. I’m acknowledging Haley calls those plays that stretch the field, but a little too late. Wallace is gone, you guys should get past that!

  • Berlusconi

    Exactly, completely different situation. Kansas City loaded their roster with talent during all the years they sucked and now got a QB to go along with it. And all these young QBs like Luck, Wilson or Kaepernick are cheap now, but they will get paid and their teams will have to let people go, just like the Steelers have/had to.

  • Bell Cow

    Agree with #7. Clark has noticeably aged and he’s looked awful this season. It’s time to give Shamarko a majority of the PT.

    Agree with #8. They have to consider moving McClendon to DE because he’s clearly not stout enough to absorb blocks against the run. Right now, I do not believe this defense has the defensive line or linebackers to run Lebeau’s defense going into next season.

    Agree with #10. Time to move on from the vets and start rebuilding. Put away your Polamalu, Kiesel, and Clark jerseys and start building a team around your upcoming young stars such as Bell, Jones, Heyward, and Shamarko.

  • Chris Wilkes

    Belichick is a HoF coach, so I don’t think there’s any shame in being one-upped by him.

  • CrazyTerry

    Sorry, I misuneederstood your first followup reply in this thread. I get your point now.

  • CrazyTerry

    It’s not conditioning. I am guessing it is because our OL get beat so bad and fall into each other.

  • Matt

    The real burning question: why would anyone let you post on this website?


  • HopalongCassidy

    No, he’s Mike Tomlin’s agent.

  • Mike.H

    Ryan Clark was so loved and respected for his VAST contributions past many years. Sad, we have to remember Ryan as having lost a step with blown coverages… SMH n’ sadness.

    But those fond memories of hard nose football against Baltimore Ratbirds in 20 degree frigid weather they live on…

  • Bell Cow

    Wheaton hasn’t done anything yet.

  • Jollyrob68

    Butler should of been The DC for years. This should be the last year for LeBeau,Troy,Clark & Ike.

  • Bell Cow

    You must be a Penn State fan… One of those “Keep Joe Pa” guys because he’s earned it. I’m sorry, but it might be time to move on from Lebeau. Eventually his pupils like Keith Butler and Carnell Lake are going to get defensive coordinator jobs much like Ray Horton did if these guys keep having to wait around.

  • Eric

    Pouncy and Foote together are 30 games. The other guys on my list not counting Heath, LSH, Spence and Spaeth is 11. At the midpoint of the season, reaching 55 missed games is probable.

  • Eric

    I have asked myself those same questions.

  • Eric

    one upped is acceptable, but being totally dominated and humiliated is another thing.

  • alevin16

    From what I heard Keenan Lewis wanted to go home to NO and would not sign with the Steelers. Could just be rumor though

  • Ben Anderson

    The nature of the game. Eventually players get old and slow down.
    And some guys, like Clark, are more concerned about giving the media good sound bites to further their TV careers, than being a good leader to his team.

  • Question 5, 8 and 9 make me very nervous about whose calling the shots. (5) I have said on Numerous posts that Dwyer was the best RB on the team. Whoever allowed him to be cut should be a “Firing Candidate”..(8) Ziggy Hood was a 1st round bust. No way he should of been drafted that early. Heyward has been a Monster Glad they finally see it. (9) There are some bad offensive lines in this League but Pittsburgh continues to take the cake! Why cant our offensive line EVER stay healthy???

  • Ben Anderson

    I thought the author asked some questions without really thinking them through. LeBeau has also had very good games vs. the Pats, albeit never in the playoffs.
    Keeping a guy on the team to do nothing but returns is a wonderful luxury to have, but this team is not deep enough to be able to afford doing so.
    Clark is playing poorly. However Troy is not. He is still well above average at his position. And, Thomas is not a free safety. Contrary to what a lot of fans believe, the safety positions, and the personnel that play them, are not interchangeable. In fact, it’s probably easier to go from FS to SS, not the other way around.

  • Kevin Artis

    Hire Pat Kirwan as GM and Steve Mariucci as Offensive Coordinator.

  • gene mann

    I agree it be nice to have a dynamic returner. The young guys have not stepped up when needed Thomas should take over for Clark but he has his limatitions .I would activate the Backup NT and play mclendon at DE

  • Bell Cow

    Maybe, but Kevin Colbert clearly stated this past off season that Lewis was not part of their future plans. From the comments Lewis made it also appeared we basically didn’t even attempt to make an offer.

  • gene mann

    I think Hayward and Mclendon will be good ends with Fanguapo as the NT

  • r4kolb

    Not his agent, just has a man love for him.

  • r4kolb

    Wheaton is a poor route runner? You know that how? That’s what they used to say about AB when he was a rookie. Sanders was the better route runner. AB seems to be doing just fine. Wheaton has played in all of 4 games this season. Just stop.

  • mlc43

    This is nit picking. You do know they don’t have that convenient line across the field to mark a first down like we do on tv? Bell is doing just fine. Does he need to improve on some things, yes. He will.

  • mlc43

    We need to cut money, plain and simple. We can’t touch Woodley. I don’t think TP or Pouncey are going to be worth what we would pay them next season. I don’t think Troy has been playing all that well as a SAFETY. He does a remarkable job helping out at LB. DD seems to be the only sure bet on the OL. I think Velasco is worth keeping instead of Pouncey. I’m not sure about Adams. He’s definitely not the answer at LT but maybe a RT. We need a lot of help on defense. Safety, CB, LB(maybe), DL. This team is absolutely in a transition and next years draft will not fix enough problems to see us through. We are going to have to be active in FA or take a few years to rebuild.

  • Not to say I told you so, but…

    The thing is…you’ll roll your eyes and laugh when you read this (or maybe after 2-6 and last place in a mediocre division you’re no longer in a laughing mood). Anyway, I predicted before the Titans game that the Steelers would lose the first three games. I didn’t look beyond the Bears since it seemed irrelevant. All things considered, the team’s 2-3 record since starting 0-3 seems reasonable. Nevertheless, I had a bad feeling about this team before the 0-4 preseason record, which in 20/20 retrospect certainly proved meaningful (or at least portentous).

    I know exactly when my bad feeling began–when Colbert/Tomlin announced Landry Jones as the team’s fourth round pick in April’s draft. (See? I told you you’d roll your eyes. Bear with me:<)

    How could that one event possibly suggest the Steelers' season would take a nose dive?

    Because this team couldn't afford to waste a fourth round draft pick.

    I don't mean to claim that one mid-round pick could have made a difference to "2-6." Far from it. In my opinion this team had (and has) GAPING talent deficiencies regarding crucial back-ups and even starters. Landry Jones, who ran a spread attack at OK and virtually never took snaps under center, was a major, long-term QB project from the get-go. The team knew this and admitted as much. Better, ready-to-play. pro-style QBs were still available in rounds 6 and 7. So why did the Colbert/Tomlin consider a long-term back-up QB worthy of a 4th round pick when good linemen (offensive and defensive), rush LBs (Khaseem Greene or John Simon, for example) were still unpicked?

    The point is that Colbert and Tomlin evidently believed their team was solid enough talent-wise to 'invest' a fourth round pic on a long range back-up project. This season has proven otherwise. Offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, secondary…almost every positional grouping stands in blatant need of better starters or back-ups, and Colbert/Tomlin couldn't see this? And even if they couldn't what about the ages of players well-over thirty or contracts set to expire?

    Yes, they drafted Jones and Bell–the latter a ready-to-play back who could be very good with a decent line. Jarvis Jones could also be very good–he's a solid instinctive player–once he adds power to his physique and develops NFL rushing skills. Unfortunately, he's also a project albeit with more immediate (and long range) upside than L. Jones. However, having lost James Harrison, the team needed an NFL-ready rush-LB…not a first round project.

    In my opinion, the selection of L Jones revealed a badly misplaced confidence in the team's personnel by Tomlin and Colbert–a complacency later revealed repeatedly by comments after 'meaningless' preseason losses and even as the team fell further behind in the division.

    The thing is…when mediocre talents look good in camp against other mediocre talents…and the coaches and fans convince themselves these players are blossoming stars…reality is rude indeed once the 'meaningful' games begin.

    That's why I thought we'd start 0-3, and that's why we're 2-6 today. Our front office has been dropping the ball and delusional for years.

  • Luke Shabro

    I love LeBeau and have for years. But can we admit that maybe the game has passed him by? He’s been fairly good in the past at limiting pocket passers and strong running games. Mobile QBs and QBs with matchup advantages like Gronk are gashing us. How can your scheme be so complicated for rookies to understand but not complicated enough to stop from getting a 50burger dropped on you? The defensive coordinator and offensive coordinator are not working out at all anymore. The head coach is to blame for the lion’s share as well. I’ve been all about maintaining continuity and didn’t really push the panic button until now. But yikes. Might be time for some major changes.

  • Chris Wilkes

    Hmmm, I’d like to see some stats on this. I know the Pats have been a thorn in our side, but they were a team of the decade. I didn’t realize we have been humiliated by them until last night, and that has more to do with the players in my opinion, although I do think Gronkowski should’ve received a bit more consideration then he did.

  • Luke Shabro

    Due to restructuring and horrible depth, Ike will most certainly be back next year. I really hope LeBeau just retires. Clark is definitely not getting re-signed and who knows with Troy

  • Brendon Glad

    Well, I can answer number 9, or at least give my opinion on it.
    The more often players are being outmatched by the men across from them, the more often they or their teammates get hurt. I would predict that 80%+ of all injuries happen on plays where a player is trying to overcompensate his body due to being put in a poor position by his opponent. Or when being rolled up on by another player who has been pushed to the ground by his opponent. That is why the very greatest offensive linemen of all-time almost NEVER got hurt. They were in complete control of their opponents, and therefore, their own bodies…and usually had time to even put their heads on a swivel to avoid any trash down around their legs from the other players.

    Same goes for every other position on the field. The more plays you are in control of your individual matchup, the less likely your body is to get contorted in a way that causes something to snap or tear. So to me, the extreme amount of injuries over the last few years is more a reflection of having many more plays where their bodies get out of control, than it is a reflection of bad luck. But that’s just a theory and opinion of mine.

  • Eric

    Very thought provoking opinion. I have always ardently been against the Landry Jones pick. With Grad and JPW in camp already, we did not need a long term QB project. I initially wanted Kasheem Green in round 4, but Vince from round 6 is exceeding rookie expectations. My second thought was to take Jonathan Franklin, but I have since been convinced that he could not run behind our O Line either. I am watching GB and Chicago tonight and trying to remember the logic for taking Bell over Lacy. All of this is hindsight.
    Using foresight, I have to ask the question of why keep Ben on the roster if we are going to be rebuilding for the next 2 years anyway? By the time we rebuild, Ben might not be capable of leading us to the playoffs. I am sure a mid level contender would give up a lot of draft picks to have Ben on their team for the next 3 – 4 years.

  • alex

    when the wheels are falling off on a team as historically great as the Steelers, there are many straws to grasp at for an answer…

    but, since the debacle in SF against the 49ers two years ago, we have been pushed around on both sides of the ball for too long! too many teams have taken our moniker of owning the trenches from us…

    Steeler teams have always been the ones doing the pushing and until that returns,things will never be the same!

  • sean mcmartin

    funny all the comments about Dick Labeau needing to retire , his schemes work when he has the right players..young and fast..

  • Kris Gusto Williams

    3,5,7 the world may never know.

  • joed32

    He hasn’t been on the field for very many snaps, just a handful. Mainly because we runs the wrong routes sometimes, although you can say the same thing about Sanders. Once Ben trusts him he’ll get some playing time and we can see what he has.

  • HarryBackside

    Troy will be sorely missed, but this team isn’t going anywhere soon, and will be going into rebuilding mode. Part of rebuilding is unloading salary, along with players who won’t be around when the rebuilding effort is over.

    If this was a team that was just a player away from being a playoff contender, then it makes sense to keep Troy. But, it’s not. The Steelers are going to lose with or without Troy in 2014. Maybe having him around helps the team win an extra game or two. The only thing that effect is the teams draft position at the end of the year.

  • Jay Jaber

    Did u guys notice the last 2 min of the patriots game Antonio brown got benched. It was his fault that Ben threw that 2nd int but Antonio brown is our best weapon on our offense I blame mike Tomlin for this season he has favorites and I really think for sure that all his interviews on tv is a front. All I’m saying is he shouldn’t have been benched he rarely makes any mistakes

  • Andy Kees

    I really believe this defense is in far worse shape than the offense.. We can actually see some growth from the offensive side of the field as opposed to the defense. I would suggest that its time to remove Clark. His time has clearly passed while Shamarko could be gaining valuable reps at that position. This defense also puts very little pressure on opposing offenses. I’m not sure if that is a personnel or schematic issue. I feel as though players like Jones, Worilds, Timmons, and Woodley are capable of creating more pressure. This leads me to think that it may be scheme more than personnel.

  • John21

    The re-building topic is one of great interest. Typically this only happens as the result of a coaching/GM purge. Looking at this roster, there is no doubt it is inferior. We need significant turnover. However that takes time and would require an admission that player selection & coaching has failed. I don’t see it happening. It would require dumping older players for draft picks. (Maybe if the trade deadline was reasonable like other sports we would see more of this.) The most disappointing thought might be that in the absence of a major overhaul, we could be stuck in a run of mediocre seasons.

  • Aric Brown

    Brown has been our best offensive weapon by a long shot… but he does make quite a few mistakes

  • Aric Brown

    I definitely think its time to see what some of our younger players have to offer, but since our division is so terrible I think we will have to wait a couple more weeks until they decide to give up on the season

  • Aric Brown

    knowing us we will probably put together some stupid run at the end of the season moving our draft pick to the middle of the first round instead of the top

  • Aric Brown

    players could still be potentially dealt around draft time, the problem is we dont have ANY trade bait… the closet thing we have to trade bait IMO Timmons and Woodley, which at best (again IMO) could gather a 3rd rounder. I would imagine little interest in Woodley as he is not known as a hard worker and is due 39 million over the next 3 years.. Timmons also has big cap hits and is due 35 million over the next 3 years

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    The answer to number 8 is simple, Tomlin had to order it or Dick would still have Hood in there.

  • Your reply, Eric, is more positive than mine [because you’re looking for solutions rather than underlying causes]. After all, any delusions or misplaced personnel beliefs on Tomlin’s and Colbert’s parts must be dissolved by 2-6. Your suggestion about Ben is a good one on the grounds of both salary cap space and rebuilding via extra draft picks. No one wants to face reality (least of all fans like me who want to win next week:<) when it comes to parting with stars we've rooted for. But grim realities are confronting the Steelers on multiple fronts, and we'd be deluding ourselves to think that easy, painless solutions will quickly return this team to SB contention.

    Btw, I also wanted K. Greene. Franklin was a good option, too. I wish the team would have taken Barrett Jones with the 1st pick in round 4 and hoped that Schmarko was still available three picks later. [Because 2013 had a rich crop of good safeties but very few all-purpose linemen who won the Outland Trophy as Alabama's left tackle and the Rimmington Trophy as its center (I assumed he could equally play guard at least as well as Whimper). Perhaps the coaches felt he didn't fit their new zone-blocking scheme as well as Adams or Gilbert. Err…oh well.

  • Not always is that the case, not all Tomlins fault the roster is a little on the grey side Mr Rooney approves those checks.

  • Really Landry Jones who gives a crap about Landry Jones

  • Yep lets do it because he writes good articles

  • 40-0 Kordell Years

  • They would have had to release Taylor first, where would they be if they did that and Lewis still said no?

  • Yep ankle injuries, blown out knee on freak accidents

  • Thank you made my afternoon

  • Fire everyone. Players have no accountability. Inmates are running the asylum

  • I was referring to Wallace

  • Wallace was clocked at the combine @ 4.29 Wheaton 4.33 sounds pretty close

    Why doesn’t Haley attack vertically with anyone?

  • Yeah Im a ravens fan yep sure am freekin ratbirds puh gtho

  • He is a good coach having a bad year. Steelers fans change with the weather so much.

    Winter hat
    no shirt
    Ski pants and flippers

    That is about how loyal 40% of the fan base is

  • johnhoien

    Dwyer needs to be in tandom w/ bell.. Keep jones & Dwyer back on kick offs and make a rule to bring it out mid zone.. 2nd 1/2 if we are trailing.. Can’t believe we did not start Heyward last year.. Need to get Clark off the field & get golden in now..he will make mistakes, but you start training him live for 2014.. Tell Troy we love his heart.. But the body has slowed.. Please play more ball hawking saftey role w/ your safety true position.. Dick lebue.. U are the best, please start yelling and chewing out Ike Taylor … Who throttles down @ least twice a game.. OMG ! It’s on tape.. You are getting paid. , please act like it all the time.. Mike Tomlin please learn to use time outs.. I no longer yell at the refs.. I yellat the TV about all the waisted time.. Ben!!!! Mike!!!
    Get fangupo in there this year!!!!!!! Let mclendon go in tandom w/ keisel!!! Get these guys snaps now,,,,,, then we won’t wine next year about the league not allowing enough live snaps.. Time to practice.. & we will make mistakes but at least these guys won’t come in green next year.. Instead of next man up, it should be next era up.. !!!

  • Jeff

    I think number 8 should be in all caps, and the font increased to size 100.

  • Steve

    Is it LeBeau’s fault for being out of position? Is it LeBeau’s fault that the salary cap is used up? Seems to me that although we are loosing, LeBeau is saing “Shark and Jarvis” will be fine. It is foolish to get rid of one of the best Defensive Coordinators in the game like Arians was railroaded out of town a few years ago. He is not out there playing. It takes time to build a Quality Defense.

  • JohnnyV1

    3 – I agree.
    4 – I think all teams this year are susceptible to being beaten by bad team. Bengals crushed the Jets. Jets beat up the Saints. Steelers beat the Jets.
    5 – Dwyer has earned his helmut and should pay ahead of Jones.
    7 – Yes, Thomas time. And Golden too.
    8 – Agree, but he’s starting now, so it’s corrected. Dump CB Brown, sign Arnfelt see if he can play.
    9 – Draft a OLT Rd 1 2014. Have to. Did you know Denver’s starting OLT & starting C are on IR? They’re playing pretty well.
    10 – Maybe even re-build.

  • r4kolb

    He’s a good coach in your eyes. In my eyes based on the last 3 years and other bad coaching/ time management issues through the years he’s not. Like I said I believe you would be in the minority on thinking he’s a good coach.

  • Riverstko

    When bad teams play us it is their superbowl. They just want to beat the steelers even if they lose the next week. Bet on that.

  • Bell Cow

    Haven’t a franchise QB hurts? Interesting … Maybe Denver, Green Bay, New Orleans, New England, etc. should cut their QBs because they’re overpaid. That wouldn’t hurt their team at all …

  • Bell Cow

    Roethlisberger isn’t the reason why they’re in cap trouble. Their poor draft classes and the practice of extending and restructuring over-paid veterans has hurt them.

  • Bell Cow

    Wheaton ran a 4.45 at the combine.. They had an article that he was disappointed by it.

    Ask Ben Roethlisberger if he misses Mike Wallace. I’m sure he’d tell you otherwise.

  • Bell Cow

    Nobody knows anything yet about Wheaton’s route running because he hasn’t played very much.

  • Bell Cow

    Not true, go back to articles on this website during that time period and read your salary cap facts.

  • Im not sure Troy has the range to consistently play deep safety, and they have an in experienced 6th round rookie playing linebacker. Even if he is somewhat capable he is still a very raw rookie.