2017 South Side Questions: Biggest Disappointment Of First Half?

The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: What was the biggest disappointment of the first half of the season for the Steelers?

For a team who stands atop the AFC with control of their own destiny for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, it would seem that there is no shortage of things that people can find to complain about. So how about we just get right to them?

To be honest, there are some legitimate issues with this team that threaten to derail their Super Bowl hopes, or at least there have been through the first eight games. The overall performance of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being the biggest one, simply because he has the biggest impact on the team’s success or failure.

Then there has been the unsuccessful return of Martavis Bryant, who has been no better than average when he has played and has created issues off the field due to his frustrations on the field. Many were counting on him coming in and playing the best football of his career, which has not happened by any means.

Bigger than these issues are situational problems, in my opinion. The Steelers rank poorly offensively in converting on third down, which is a major concern that has stalled too many drives. They’ve also been average at best in the red zone in converting those trips into touchdowns. The defensive red zone work is at least trending up.

The major lapses in the run defense in a few games this year has been worrisome for some as well, and an extension of that is an exceeding number of missed tackles, which have directly contributed to some of those successes on the ground.

I’m sure there are other issues I’m leaving out. I will say that I would prefer to keep this strictly about football and football-related issues. I think you know what I’m talking about.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • CP72

    1. Martavis Bryant
    2. Bud Dupree

    Two of the most physically gifted guys on the roster.

    Martavis is just what he is at this point. He’s not going to be around long term, but he could help you win a ball game in January.

    Dupree has missed a good deal of time with injuries. I am hoping for a Ryan Shazier like career path. Flashes, gets banged up, and then finally puts it all together. The next 8 games may be a crossroads in his career. Is he an 8-10 sack guy that can provide steady pressure off the edge or is he a guy you that always leaves you wanting more. It’s time for him to take the next step if it’s going to ever happen.

  • capehouse

    I’ll go with Jesse James. His performance in the playoffs last year was solid, but he’s been super inconsistent. Really thought he’d be able to put it all together this year. I didn’t think Bryant would perform as poorly as he has, but I knew he was going to have a hard time getting back up to speed. That extra weight/muscle he added robbed him of his open field quickness, but with his history it’s not all that surprising he’s still a turd. Dupree is not a surprise at all. I just don’t think he has what it takes to be a natural pass rusher and that’s been obvious for some time. Big Ben is probably the 2nd most disappointing, along with Tuitt’s injury and Hargrave not getting enough snaps.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    Regression of entire offense.

  • Darth Blount 47

    Todd Haley.

  • Kevin artis

    The biggest disappointment is Ben. If he gets it in gear the other issues can be overcome.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    I guess for me, the biggest surprise is that an offense returning essentially all of its players has struggled so much.

    I hope Ben and Haley spent a lot of time connecting the dots on the bye week.

  • Conserv_58

    1. Todd Haley’s play calling.
    2. The Red Zone continues to be the Steelers’ Bermuda Triangle.
    3. Third down efficiency is appalling, especially with the talent on this offense.
    4. Turnover ratio. The Steelers are minus one and that must change for them to go deep in the win column.
    5. Poor pass rush. Bud Dupree has been a disappointment so far. He gets too caught up in the scrum and he doesn’t disengage from and shed blocks as well as he is expected to.
    6. Mike Mitchell being injured, again.

    * I expect the run defense to improve with Tuitt back on the field.
    * I expect the run game to improve with Marcus Gilbert back at RT. Hopefully he doesn’t re-aggrivate his hammy.
    * I expect the red zone production to improve, exponentially, especially with having everyone on deck. Todd Haley and Ben have no excuses to fail as much as they have.

  • Conserv_58

    Did you watch Ben’s interview after the second practice? When asked if he spent time during the bye week to evaluate his performance in the first eight games he said, “No.” I would hope that Haley watched tapes of the first eight games to see where and why this offense failed to put up better numbers, especially their red zone numbers.

  • Steel Realist PAul

    I didn’t. And if that’s the truth, that’s too bad. Seems films study and trend info is of value to a contending team.

  • Morten Jacob Houring

    Ben’s deep passing game and the number is targets for Bryant. I know people are super pissed at Bryant for the way he handled things, but I think he’s right in saying he hasn’t been utilized well this year. Ben not throwing well deep is cramming the offensive weapons on too little space near the LoS, so the splash playa aren’t there like they have been in recent years.

  • GravityWon

    Offense:. Too many deep balls forced into tight coverage.

    Defense:. Not enough big plays. Would like to see 2 or 3 turnovers returned for TDs in the 2nd half.

  • Marcel Chris Chauvet

    The offense. With the exceptions of Pouncy, DeCastro,Juju, and AB, every single player on offense is playing below their potential. The play calling is bad. The QB play is marginal. The penalties on the line are too many and so are the pressures allowed. Bryant has looked rusty. Bell is averaging nearly a yard less per carry than last season. Marcus Gilbert hasn’t been healthy. Jesse James hasn’t improved as a blocker and Vance McDonald can’t catch. Even Roosevelt Nix has had a few poor showings. I understand the disappointment is based on high expectations, but they have the talent and have invested the money and draft picks that say expectations ought to be what they are.

  • Beaver Falls Hosiery

    The biggest disappointments in first 8 games to me were losses to the Bears and Jaguars.

  • Mark

    No-brainer: Todd Haley’s offensive offense.

  • Mark

    Haley can watch film all day, every day and not formulate a successful game plan. He is why we fail….

  • Mark

    Amen

  • nutty32

    Not much to be “disappointed” about due to the D resurgence, but would say Ben is the biggest “concern.”

  • francesco

    Tod Haley
    ABurns
    Ben
    Dupree

  • MC

    Dupree.
    Playcalling.
    Ben.