Where is the Steelers intensity?
Three games. It’s not a large sample size, I’ll admit that but sometimes three games are enough to see an issue or two and in the case of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the first one that I see is a lack of intensity.
Sure, they’ve won two of those three games and are tied for first place at 2-1 with the Baltimore Ravens, a team they will travel to face this coming Sunday; but their one loss was an absolute dud to a very poor Bears team (though the way they pounded the Steelers this past Sunday you wouldn’t know how bad they really are) and their two wins were unimpressive, at best.
Why haven’t the black and gold come out here and played like the team that said they were dedicating the season to Dan Rooney? They appear flat, uninspired and relatively disinterested. Only Antonio Brown has shown true heart and a desire to give his all on every play, something he was criticized for not doing in 2016.
I expected a huge year out of Ben Roethlisberger and I still do but it hasn’t happened yet. Whether it’s him, Todd Haley, or both, the play calling has been marginal, the execution has been a bit off and the production is below the standard that Ben has created for himself. Look, he’s been decent, far from the Steelers biggest problem but it’s his job to make better decisions and lead this team in a more organized manner. That hasn’t happened yet. Right now, I don’t have confidence that Ben isn’t just going to go for the home run ball 50 yards down the field two out of every three plays. If it was working even half the time, great, I’d be all for that play remaining in the repertoire but since it continues to come up empty on most occasions, Roethlisberger needs to dial it back and get back to the basics that make this offense great.
Some of that can’t be done without Le’Veon Bell running the ball more effectively than he has. He did bump his yards per carry average up to 4.1 this past Sunday but only had 61 yards on 15 carries. He needs the ball more than that and even those 61 yards were not the typical yards gained by Bell. He’s not getting big plays, he’s not utilizing his trademark patience as often as he has in the past and he’s not finding the holes as easily.
Is all of this due to the starters missing time due to holdouts, injuries, rest or general days off in the pre-season? I don’t believe it is. I think there is a case for some of this to be attributed to that but three games in, that rust needs to go away. The good teams, no matter how little they have played together, find ways to beat the inferior teams, usually soundly. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, they haven’t shown they are a superior team, to date.
There is a palpable lack of intensity. That fire is missing. It may be an assumption that they are just going to roll over everybody. It may be individual agendas getting in the way. It may very well be that Mike Tomlin is not motivating this team appropriately and doesn’t have his finger truly on the pulse of his squad. I’ll say all three of those are reasons the intensity hasn’t been there yet and it needs to be rectified now.
The Steelers travel to Baltimore this week, a team who was just embarrassed in London to a very low expectation Jaguar team. The Ravens are going to come home hungry and looking for revenge. It’s early but first place is on the line between these two bitter rivals. I trust that John Harbaugh will have his team amped up for this game and I would like to believe Mike Tomlin will too but I don’t think I can trust it until I see it at this point.
I’m hoping the black and gold don’t leave me asking the question this coming Sunday that I’ve asked myself the last three; “Where’s the intensity?”