Brian Roach’s Good, Bad & Ugly – Steelers vs. Bears

As I sit down to write this, I have asked myself several times – should I just call this one the “Bad and the Ugly”?

I consider myself a realistic person. I am not a guy who believes in participation trophies, nor do I shy away from stating a fact when facts need to be stated. I’m also not inclined to only look at things from one side. I have learned over the past 50+ years that every coin has two sides and every story does as well.

Was there good in the Steelers less than Steeler performance in Chicago this past Sunday?

Let’s find out in this week’s edition of “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”.


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What Can Brown Do For You?

14 Targets, 10 receptions, 110 yards and 1 TD.

Just an average day at the office for Antonio Brown. As of right now, Brown leads the league in receiving yards (354), receptions (26) and Yards per Game (118). If those averages for 3 games were to hold up for the season that would translate to 1,888 yards on 138 catches.

That is what Brown can do for you.

At least for the moment.

However, if the rest of the receiving corps doesn’t start to show up on a consistent basis, AB is going to find himself in the same kinds of situations he was last season. Double and triple coverages. Defenses specifically designed to take him out of the game and dare the Steelers to beat them with someone else. Heck, at least last year they had Le’Veon going strong. This year that isn’t even a given to this point.

Never Give UP

If you ever want to see a play that epitomizes the philosophy of coaches who have been screaming to “never quit on the play”, you could see it as Vance McDonald snuck up on Marcus Cooper and stripped the ball from his hands just prior to him reaching the end zone.

Even Jordan Berry showed hustle to get down there and try and help (although batting the ball out of the end zone may not have been the best solution, but if he couldn’t recover it, I’ll take it).

I would venture to say that Marcus Cooper will never hot dog it that much again. You have to give McDonald and Berry credit. If they had managed to strip the ball away and fall on it, that game never goes into overtime and the Steelers end up 3-0. Minimally they gave their team a chance to stay in the game.

Air Patrol

Mike Glennon did not beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. There are two other guys who did that, and we’ll get to that in a bit. But Mike Glennon wasn’t the reason the Steelers lost. He completed ONE pass to a WR all day, and overall only managed 101 yards through the air on 15 of 22 passing for a QB rating of 74.2.

The pass defense was not awful.

But was it really good? I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt. It’s actually hard to say because the Bears simply focused so much on the run, and had so much success at it that they didn’t need to worry about the pass.

Glennon averaged only 6.73 yards per reception, so there were not a lot of long passing plays. That portion of the defense seemed to do its job.


A Damaged Line

Marcus Gilbert was ruled out prior to the game. Then Ramon Foster went out early in the contest. That meant it was time for B.J. Finney and Chris Hubbard. Hubbard got the start for Gilbert, and Finney came in in relief for Foster.

Last year that seemed to be OK. Sunday it most definitely was not.

The line appeared to have issues pass blocking (3 sacks) and was not consistently opening holes up in the run game. Le’Veon Bell managed a mere 61 yards on 15 carries which was good enough to keep the Steelers run game near the worst in the league. The line was supposed to be a strength of this team, and so far it hasn’t felt that way. I am the first to admit it hasn’t been an easy group of fronts they’ve had to face to start the season. Cleveland is better than they were, the Vikings are Pro-Bowl caliber and the Bears are not much worse.

Still, they handled these kinds of lines a lot better last year. More was expected, and they really need to fix whatever issues they are having. It doesn’t get any easier next week facing the Ravens.

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Where Did Everybody Else Go?

As I mentioned above, Antonio Brown had 10 catches by himself. 4 other receivers were able to gather in 12 more (six by Le’Veon Bell alone). JuJu Smith-Schuster had two, Martavis Bryant had two and Jesse James had two.

What is most disturbing is the lack of contribution by the tight ends. The Bears had been victimized by tight ends in both of their previous games. One of their starting linebackers was out. This should have been a game where the X-man (Xavier Grimble) or maybe Vance McDonald showed up. I’ll give Jesse James a pass since he’s nursing an injury. But the entire group accounted for just two catches.

Eli Rogers did nothing to redeem his special teams gaffe, not even warranting a single target.

This is what I meant when I said that Brown is doing what he does…for now. If this is how the rest of the receiving group continues to perform, teams are going to start to feel like they don’t need to worry so much about everyone else, and just focus on AB. This has to improve, and yes, I know that Ben has a lot to do with this, and the infatuation with going deep needs to be tempered.

Still, if Martavis managed to bring in that first long catch, which while a tough reception, is still one he should and could have made, the ball was right in his hands, then this is a different game altogether.


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Zebras On Patrol

The. Refs. Stink.

Let the song ring out across the land – the refs have reclaimed their place in the ugly category. You all watched the game. The refusal to call pass interference when it was clearly warranted (on multiple occasions) was egregious. It was blatant.

The blindness to holding calls that even a high school ref could have seen was even worse. Steelers players were getting spun around in their shoes by Bears players, clearly holding, and yet the refs, standing right there in front of the play, refused to call it.

I could go on, but let’s just leave it at this.


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Two Hundred & Twenty Yards Rushing

Speaking of things that stink – the Steelers run defense.

This is a group that had looked, well, dominant during the first two games. They hadn’t allowed a 100-yard rusher, and they looked primed for a huge season. The letdown might be more painful because of that, and the fact that on a large number of plays, the Steelers were in a position to make a play, but poor tackling allowed the runner to escape and make positive yards.

The Bears needed only three plays (with the blinders that the refs were wearing) to end the game in overtime, and that normally only happens when you are throwing the ball.

The Bears ran it, and they ran it well.

The outside runs simply killed the Steelers. Give Jayvon Hargrave credit – they didn’t get a lot up the middle, but when they went outside, the run support just wasn’t there. It can be summed up by one play in particular where the Bears back cuts outside, and Artie Burns runs up to give support, and well, I don’t know what happened, but it wasn’t a good look for Artie.

I want to blame this on communication. I want to blame this on too many new pieces in the puzzle. I want to blame this on Sean Davis being out. But I’m not sure I can. It may be a combination of all of those things, along with Stephon Tuitt still being out, but it may also be that they just weren’t playing disciplined football. It felt like gap coverage was atrocious and so on at least a few place when Shazier and Williams blitzed up the middle, the outside was wide open, and the Bears runners took advantage.

It was ugly.

The BS

The only thing uglier than the Steelers rushing defense was the commentary from some of the fans.

Hey, I can call us out just as much as I can call the team out.

When a fan wishes that the Steelers plane had crashed rather than landed in Pittsburgh, that’s just ugly. It’s beyond the pale. It’s one thing to be angry, and frustrated. It’s quite another to wish death on people. We all know the backstory to this weekend, and no doubt emotions were running high.

I don’t care. I really don’t care what side of the debate you fall on. Deciding that you’d rather the team died than simply chose to remove your support is psychotically extreme. We have enough stress in our lives, enough issues that arise on a daily basis. Football is supposed to be the escape. It’s a time to forget all that and cheer for your team and enjoy the spectacle of sport.

The hatred that was spewed on social media directed at players, owners and fans alike were worse than anything I’ve ever seen.

You want ugly – that stuff was ugly.


I am as through with this game as I can be.

No, really, I don’t even want to think about it for a single second more. This weekend was simply crazy, and I wrote about that in this article.

All I care about right now is that it’s Ravens week, and it’s time for some gosh darn singular focus.

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