Friday, August 22, 2014

Room for Improvement

Le'Veon Bell drops a pass in Philadelphia.
Ugh. This one was ugly, lackluster, sloppy, messy and borderline-unwatchable. The Steelers looked pitiful. Mike Tomlin played mostly starters for three quarters and trailed 31-7.

The Steelers scored no points in the first half, with just 96 yards of total offense and one interception.

The defense was worse. For the game, the Steelers' defense surrendered a total of 482 yards offense and a total of 36 first downs. For the game, the Eagles had 13 first downs rushing. Thirteen! Rushing. The Eagles topped that with 17 first downs passing. And the Steelers gave the Eagles six first downs by penalty. Philadelphia racked up 79 plays on offense; the Steelers had just 54 plays on offense.

The new-look high-speed defense got pushed around all night by the Eagles, who came out fast, just as expected. Everybody knew the Eagles, at home in the next-to-last game of the pre-season -- the annual "most important" tune-up game for starters in anticipation of the regular season -- everybody knew the Eagles would start fast with the home crowd behind them. The Steelers looked totally unprepared and out of sync. Were they distracted? Unfocused? We don't know, but it looked that way.

"Obviously," as Tomlin might say, "There was a lack of singular focus." They were just bad.

Worst of all -- and this may be a knee-jerk reaction to a "meaningless" exhibition game, but maybe not, considering the Steelers are coming off consecutive 8-8 seasons -- this team looks like it has far too many players who just aren't talented enough to compete effectively in the NFL.

As Heath Miller said earlier in the week, before last night's game, “This will be the closest taste we get as far as an actual game to the time we are in there. This will be a good gauge in that respect.”

If that's the case, look out below. Speaking of which ...

Now, even the Browns might have some hope
This performance must give encouragement to fans in Cleveland. If the Steelers play like this in the season opener at home vs. the Browns, they're going to lose -- no matter who is at quarterback for Cleveland: Brian Hoyer, Rex Grossman, Connor Shaw or even Johnny Manziel.

This sounds absurd, but it's so obvious: The season opener looms as a must-win game.

The first roster cuts will probably start on Saturday. As Chuck Noll once said, "Cutting players isn't the problem. The problem is going to be where to stop."

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