Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Elevator Music isn't what it used to be

The volume button on the "elevator music" washing over the Steelers has been dialed up from a dull roar to a cacophonous crescendo. 

"I don't worry about that; that's elevator music," Mike Tomlin said about criticism of the Steelers' play from former player Hines Ward and ex-coach Bill Cowher, both of whom described the Steelers as playing "soft."

Our fair city.
That kind of elevator music is what you get, Mike, when you get crushed in a Thursday night game against Baltimore; lose at home to woeful Tampa Bay; barely eke out a win over dreadful Jacksonville; and allow a resurgent Cleveland squad to romp and stomp your team although the Browns' roster is largely comprised of rookies and undrafted free agents led by a quarterback you released less than two years ago.

The elevator won't stop until at least Monday night, when the Steelers take on the Houston Texans, against whom they've had spotty success over the years. Like the Steelers, the 3-3 Texans do some things well and some things not so well.

It's Time to Change Some Things
Whatever happens on Monday night, no ending coda for the elevator music is likely to happen unless the Steelers fix some of their most pressing issues, lack of talent notwithstanding.

Where do we start? Offense?

Questionable play-calling aside, Ben Roethlisberger has been sacked 17 times, second-most in the NFL. Even with J.J. Watt looming, is that a problem that can be fixed?


When you run the ball, you don't get sacked. We're not saying run the ball 100 percent of the time, but if the Steelers are looking to forge an identity, they could take a cue from this year's Dallas Cowboys, of all teams, who have lost just once and have shown a commitment to the run rarely seen anymore.

We thought for sure the Steelers would use a no-huddle running game more this year, especially at home. One example of a team that does that is Chip Kelly's Philadelphia Eagles: On Sunday night vs. the New York Giants, the Eagles ran the ball often out of the no-huddle, gained 11 rushing first downs and racked up 203 yards on the ground.

On defense, it's past time for the Steelers to switch up personnel. Whatever fascination the decision-makers have with Cam Thomas, it's time to try somebody else. The same goes for at least a couple of other positions. What are they clinging to?

It's time for the players to step up, and the coaches, too.  Switch up the personnel, adjust the schemes, do something. Play defense. As Chuck Noll said, "Whatever it takes."

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