Friday, October 17, 2014

Still Searching: A Question of Identity

Zeke's Coffee opens its new drive-through location on
Broad Street near the East Liberty Post Office 
The defense is a problem,"obviously," to borrow Mike Tomlin's oft-used fall-back word. The defense has been soft against the run and loose in pass coverage. And there's been precious little pass rush. Jason Worilds has done next to nothing six games into a contract "walk" year (during which he's being paid $11 million).

"Obviously," too, the offense is a problem. There have been flashes: The Steelers rank second in the NFL with 11 plays (eight passes; three runs) of 30 yards or longer. But the Steelers rank 20th in the NFL in points scored at 20.7 points per game.

That last stat is unfortunate when your defense allows 23.2 points per game (14th in the NFL).

It looks like the Steelers have to outscore opponents, and this is yet another week where some match-ups on offense appear to favor Pittsburgh.

The Texans' defense have allowed more plays of 30-plus yards than any other NFL team. That seems to favor the Steelers, eh?

Yes, BUT ONLY IF the Steelers' offensive gives Ben Roethlisberger enough time to throw. The Texans do have J.J. Watt, and he alone could be enough to disrupt Roethlisberger's timing with his receivers -- which, as we have seen recently, hasn't exactly been orchestrated with any sort of reliability.

That offensive line the Steelers have been trotting out has two players who received big-money contract extensions during the off-season: Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert. Yet the Steelers failed to get enough of a push up front that they failed to score against the Browns on three rush attempts inside the 10-yard line. On the other side of the ball, Pittsburgh's defense failed to stop Cleveland's three runs by Ben Tate and Isaiah Crowell inside the Steelers' 10-yard line.

No wonder Bill Cowher and Hines Ward called them soft.

Everybody's been wondering what sort of identity the Steelers have on offense -- because they don't have one. Ramon Foster said this week that it's "versatile."

Nice try, Ramon.

As Joey Porter's Pit Bulls wrote a few weeks before the Jacksonville game:
"The overall tenor and identity of the offense, though, is more or less set by the coordinator, head coach and quarterback. Three years after Haley's arrival, it is fair to say the Steelers still lack a cohesive, consistent identity on offense. 
"This week's visit to Jacksonville presents a perfect opportunity to set a tone and establish some continuity and a sense of identity."
Substitute "Houston" for "Jacksonville" in that last sentence, and we will say, once again, "Now's your chance, Todd Haley."

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