As the Steelers limp out of San Francisco with yet another defeat, falling to 0-3, they need to quickly lick their wounds and prepare for their fellow 0-3 AFC North rivals, the Bengals. The loser gets the title of cellar dweller, for at least one week, the winner, can perhaps still salvage their season.
But are the Steelers even capable of salvaging anything? Before we even mention the word playoffs, which were certainly high on the list of expectations for the 2019 season, the team has to find a way to win a game. The Bengals are certainly a team the Steelers can get their first win of the season against, but the Steelers coordinators need to get out of the way.
Let’s start with Randy Fichtner. In a game where the defense produced a whopping five turnovers against the 49ers, Fichtner played conservative ball. He didn’t allow Mason Rudolph the opportunity for a big play right after the turnover, providing a potential dagger to the 49ers.
Instead, he offered short dump offs and small yardage opportunity plays. These types of plays are setting the offense up to fail, as they are unable to convert third and long situations. In addition to the absurdly bad pass play calling, he isn’t getting the ball into James Conner’s hands enough.
Conner needs to run the ball 20-25 times to help get the offense going, set up the pass and assist Rudolph in getting comfortable. That better happen against the Bengals, if it doesn’t, this black and gold team could fall to 0-4.
If I’m Mike Tomlin, I’m telling Fichtner to open up the playbook against Cincinnati and see what happens. (What do they have to lose now?)
I’d also go to Keith Butler and tell him that if his defense can’t begin to sack the quarterback with some kind of regularity, he can pack his desk and head out of town.
Yes, they had an impressive outing against San Francisco in the turnover department, netting five of them but they still can’t get the sacks required to prevent big yardage plays. The defense still gave up over 450 yards.
Minkah Fitzpatrick is an absolute stud and a great addition. I love the player that Devin Bush is and what he will become and quite frankly, since just about everybody starting on that side of the ball is a first, second or third round pick, there is no excuse for Butler. He simply can’t scheme, can’t adjust and can’t coach. He’s no good and therefore his defense, with all that talent, looks no good too.
Tomlin is not creating the schemes, but he oversees the entire operation and he needs to get his coordinators and coaching staff in line before the wheels come entirely off the bus. If the Steelers somehow falter to the Bengals on Monday Night, changes will need to happen.
Tomlin cannot continue to allow this staff of his to destroy what once looked like a promising season to come.
I think the team will find a way to just get by Cincinnati to prevent an 0-4 start... but it won’t be pretty.