At 5-5, the Black and Gold find themselves in the midst of the playoff race but also in a jam. After the disaster that occurred in Cleveland, where the offense had no life, no spark and an apparent inability to stop the blitz, what can this team do to get things going?
Mason Rudolph has come under fire for not being able to move the team, playing scared and just looking bad at times. While that’s true, it’s not all his fault.
James Conner hasn’t been available recently and even when he has, he hasn’t had a productive season. Now, his top two targets, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson are battling concussions, Smith-Schuster also has a knee injury and their status for this upcoming week against Cincinnati is doubt.
What can or should the Steelers do to fix this mess, if they want to make a playoff push. They now sit on the outside looking in and would likely have to win five of their next six games to have a realistic chance of slipping into the Wild Card spot.
It’s doable, but they’ll need to make some changes in the process.
First, they need to give Terrelle Pryor an opportunity. Pryor has been lobbying to come home and play for the Steelers He’ll be dirt cheap and with the injuries that the team has sustained, a nice addition to the wide receiver corps, with very little risk. If he doesn’t work out, who cares? He’s had successful seasons in the NFL and, in a pinch, he can be an emergency quarterback, it’s a no brainer.
They also need to find a veteran running back to come in here and help this team out. They should have been all-in on Jay Ajayi but let him sign with the Eagles. However, with Conner’s inability to stay healthy or even produce when he was healthy and no other back doing much of anything, someone else needs to come in and help.
They should also consider making Trey Edmunds the feature back as long as Conner is out or struggling. I like the way Edmunds runs and I think he can provide that bulldozing technique this team needs right now to control the clock and help Rudolph out when he’s struggling. I like Jaylen Samuels as well but more as the pass-catching back that he’s been.
Lastly, they need to center their pass attack around Vance McDonald for the time being. He’s a very good pass-catching tight end, an emergency blanket and he can move the sticks. Why he hasn’t been involved more is beyond me.
If the Steelers want to get things fixed on offense, they can start with a few of these things this week against the winless Bengals. If they fail to win that game, they may as well forget about making any changes at all, the season will be over.