Steelers Talk Failures In Execution Over Gameplan In Explaining Ugly Loss

There is only so much that you can pre-determine when it comes to sporting events. More times than not, it ultimately falls back simply to execution. And in the wake of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 30-9 loss to the Jaguars on Sunday, the players—particularly those on offense—are talking about just that: execution.

That included wide receiver Antonio Brown, who was the best player on the field on the day with 10 receptions for 154 yards, and a long touchdown taken away by a holding penalty on David DeCastro.

It’s not about what we say. It’s about what we do”, he told reporters after the game, describing it as “less than ideal. We weren’t the better team today. Tomorrow lies another opportunity to be better and to get prepared for next week. It’s not about our preparation. It’s about us going out and executing”.

A lot of people have come out and criticized every coach that they can think of, and, to be sure, there is blame to go around, but as is almost always the case, so much of what ultimately goes around on any given play is because of the failure of at least one player to properly do his job.

Alejandro Villanueva, the Steelers’ left tackle who has gotten off to a bit of a rough start so far in his third full season on the 53-man roster, talked about the same idea. “We have the potential”, he said of their offensive prowess. “We have the great coaches, we have a good gameplan and system every single week”.

So what went wrong, in his estimation? “As players”, he concluded, “we’re just not executing it very well”.

Defensive captain Cameron Heyward was among those criticizing the team’s overall level of play, saying that there will be no “soul-searching” after the game, because it’s not about that. “We just have to play better”, he said. “We got beat in every phase, simple as that”.

And truth be told, Heyward was responsible for lapses in execution as well, getting washed out of a couple of the Jaguars’ successful runs on the day. Jacksonville has a very physical offensive line, and the front seven did not handle it very well overall.

And when they did, it was a lack of execution on the perimeter that proved to be the difference—as well as the vision of the ball-carriers to identify and exploit the weaknesses.

“We have to do a lot better job of playing the run”, Ryan Shazier said. “They were running the ball where they wanted to run it. Sometimes, if we didn’t have contain, they’d bounce it. If we weren’t in the gap were we were supposed to be, they’d shoot it”.

And sometimes they just got blown off the ball. Or missed a tackle. Or were beat on a block. Or tripped. Or missed a read. Or hit a punt off the foot wrong. Or any number of things. The failures of execution add up, and when you get enough of them, they often enough equate to an ugly loss.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • francesco

    Maybe it’s because they are not a good TEAM. Just all individuals with their own agendas. Ben wants to retire. AB wants to pad his fantasy. LB wants his contract. And not to mention the OL has been over- rated for years.
    The players don’t want to call out their OC or DC and certainly not their HC.
    So the best thing to say of course is to blame execution.
    The real problem in my mind is that the coaches are calling a flawed game plan. And Tomlin is signing off on it.

  • Andrea Barbieri

    Coaches Outplayed again. Fullstop. As a coach (Haley) if you have such a lot of talent and you can succeed, your fault.

  • razaard2

    Everybody is sugarcoating it. They are a team so they will say the team mistakes caused the loss, of course. I respectfully disagree, this one is on Ben.
    D can’t be blamed when 21 out of the 30 points come from 2 pick sixes and a garbage time play

  • John A Stewart

    I also blame Tomiln for the way this team spend more time tweeting.Now Bell is going at it with Clark really are we the only team beside the Bengals out control what does that tell you no discipline on and off the field.

  • AndyR34

    Well, of course it’s execution. But good execution of a flawed game plan or poor execution of a good game plan? If Bell’s answer that running the ball wasn’t a significant part of the game plan is accurate, then I would say it was a deply flawed plan. OTOH, Bell might be biased.

  • treeher

    I don’t buy it. First of all, except for the long TD run, the defense was not the problem, at least against the Jags. It’s the offense. We’re supposed to have (1) the best wide receiver (2) the best all-around RB (3) HOF QB (4) all pro C and RG. Now, with that package, are you telling me that those people can’t execute the game plan? And that a breakdown in execution nullifies all that talent for an entire game? If we require PERFECTION 100% of the time, then something is wrong. The ability to overcome the inevitable mistakes is what defines a winner. This team has not demonstrated that.

  • falconsaftey43

    They were running a ton of screens. Maybe depot can get a breakdown of how successful those plays were. the run plays were not successful at a good rate, maybe the screens were a better plan. I was planning on going through to look at this, but not sure I’ll have time.

  • falconsaftey43

    I’m not sure what your point is. Are you saying Ben, AB, Bell, Pouncey, DeCastro all played well? Ben obviously had quite a few off target throws. DeCastro was pretty terrible, consistently getting beat in pass protection. AB was really good, Bell was ok.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    I don’t care what any of them say that game plan on offense sucked point blank the players,commentators,or sports reporters can’t tell me different

  • Roberto Vaquero Bazán

    I think they are a good team, coaching staff and specially HC is where The problem is!

  • Steel Realist PAul

    It seems like an almost across-the-board set of little failures over many plays. Almost every player has been hurting the team.

    I don’t buy the game plans being appropriate, as the same issues were there with the Bears running where and how they wanted on the Steelers front 7.

    On offense, I have no clue what they’re trying to do. They seem to be behaving as a team that has to cover for deficiencies in personnel by looking for short plays that they hope might go for more. They don’t run the ball like they can run, and they don’t pass it like they can pass.

  • treeher

    My point is that even if these guys do fail to execute, the definition of a winner is the ability to overcome mistakes and this team is not doing it. No team, no individual EVER has perfect execution. So the issue goes beyond failure to execute.

  • The Sun is Pro-Black



    L-evels of


    Y-ardage and scoring

  • 太阳三联

    Dude, Ben threw 2 pick sixes + 3 others. This falls squarely on Ben. Embrace it, it might light the fire under our ass and if it doesn’t I’d rather know now then when playoff time comes where it hurts even more. We’re gonna be a run heavy team now and I’m excited cus we always should of been.

  • SilverSteel

    They all agree with you. It’s obvious now. Even my wife who hates sports, sees the flaws in our game plan. She commented when we were on the 1 – why don’t they just use Bell and run it in? They have three tries, right? I had no good answer for her. Even a child can see the game plan was flawed.

  • SilverSteel


  • treeher

    Ben threw 5 picks? Gosh, I didn’t know that. Of course, if the team had been able to convert in the red zone, maybe those passes wouldn’t have been attempted. Maybe we would have run more against the league’s worst run defense.

  • SteelerFanInMD

    I see this every year. The players aren’t ready to play when the regular season starts. They lose to inferior teams. They don’t play with urgency until they face elimination from the playoff. If the players still aren’t executing by the 5th game of the year, the coaches are ones to blame.

  • 太阳三联

    We should of ran regardless all game.

  • falconsaftey43

    Did anyone ask for perfection? No. But when guys repeatedly fail to execute and continue to make mistakes, you get the JAX game. Team can overcome mistakes. They overcame the first INT fine. They could have overcome the 2nd INT (first pick 6). This all dispite their failure to execute in the redzone. But they continued to stack failures. Yes, winners overcome mistakes. This team didn’t, it’s why they lost.

    I still have no idea what point you’re trying to make. It’s like you’re saying them playing poorly is no excuse for them playing poorly.

  • StrengthOfVictory

    On two replays alone, I saw Heyward getting held. Unfortunately, the Jags O-line wasn’t getting called for holding at all on Sunday…so I’ll give Cam a pass on this one. I mean, Fournette is good, but he wasn’t THAT good on Sunday (not without help).

    That being said, this D-line had better figure out how to get off their blocks consistently. If the Steelers can’t stop the run, they’re as good as dead. And you can bet they’re going to see a healthy dose of Kareem Hunt in Arrowhead.

  • cencalsteeler

    Checkers vs. Chess.
    The Jags gameplan kicked butt. Again, our staff was outwitted.
    The Steelers come out and do the same thing week in and week out. I really don’t see anything to surprise any Offensive or Defensive Coach. It seems they make it very easy to gameplan against. They rely so heavily on 2 players on the offensive side of the ball, Bell and AB. On Defense, the Lb’s shoot so many gaps, that it’s easy to bounce things outside. I saw Bortles hitting the soft spots again in zone coverage. If they would have thrown more, we’d be talking more about coverage than poor tackling (or both).

    Side note: Marczi. I’m curious if you guys have any data showing wins/losses compared to how many long pass attempts. Against Baltimore, they kept it short and sweet and came out with the W. This week, as soon as I saw the first long pass go to AB (even though it was a completion), I knew what direction this game was headed. I’d bet there’s some statistic out there showing some correlation when Ben throws deep the L’s pile up.

  • The Sun is Pro-Black

    It’s embarrassingly bad.

  • nutty32

    Jags did exactly what they’ve been doing all season. Coughlin taking the team back to fundamentals, win-lose-or-draw. “Outwitted” seems way off base, here.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Even Patriots players do that. They’re adults who have lives.

  • Matthew Marczi

    This is the problem, pretty much, with the entire world. They have an opinion and nobody can possibly convince them otherwise regardless of the evidence. You can pass the ball 85 times with 0 runs against the best passing defense in the history of the game and still win as long as you execute the plays called.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    even if that was the case I’d still probably say same thing even with a different outcome but to your point after listening to coach explain how the game unfolded I get why they had to pass more for any of our liking

  • MC

    You’re right that you can pass and win against the best pass defense but it’s just not the logical attack. Especially when the defense isn’t giving you the ability to do it. In the case of Sunday, a better gameplan should of been implemented when there is such a disparity between the oppositions run defense to their pass defense.
    How is it that our star players always seem to fail to execute against under .500 teams? isn’t a lot of that gonna come back to the coaches lack of preparation and planning? Speaking of our offense alone, I think it looks like on the surface that they’re failing to execute but maybe its because the calls are so predictable that the defense knows whats coming, take out the element of surprise and you give the defense a much better chance to out-execute the offense.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Has anybody ever done a comparison to how other teams perform against “sub-.500” teams, or compare how those teams ended up finishing the season? I mean just off the top of my head two of these supposedly bad teams ended up making the playoffs, and the games against Pittsburgh happened to be the turning points in each of their respective seasons. Who cares if the Steelers lose to a team that’s 0-1 or 1-2? What does that really say? What kind of teams were they *really*? Just citing the team’s record at the time doesn’t really tell you much about the quality of opponent.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Yeah, it made sense after Ben started throwing pick-sixes to start throwing more, but honestly I thought they could have run the ball a little more in the first half too. The way the second half unfolded really exacerbated the run-pass ratio imbalance though for sure.

  • pittfan

    What are you trying to say? Lol

  • pittfan

    I have to disagree with Cam. They all need to do some soul searching and ask themselves if they are truly giving their best mentally and physically. Are their words backed up by deeds? There may be a lot of overinflated sense of themselves. Don’t say it, be it.