12/15/22-There Are Reasons For This Mess

By: Mike Pelaia


At 5-8, the Steelers have all but been eliminated from the playoffs already and should they lose this coming Sunday, combined with a few other things, they in fact will be out of contention before Christmas.

That’s unheard of in Pittsburgh over the past 18 years but it’s the hard reality the team faces today.  This isn’t totally unexpected, however.

They have been starting a rookie quarterback for the last couple of months. They saw veteran leaders like Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Haden head into retirement. They had a major injury to their best player, TJ Watt, and they had a lame duck General Manager drafting for them the last couple of years.

It’s a recipe for this type of play. Yet, there have been other things that have gone extremely wrong and need to be called out, which have helped put the team in this state.

First and foremost, despite some perceived recent improvements by the offense, Matt Canada should never have been retained from last year to this year or through the teams’ bye week. The offense ranks 26th in total yards, 100 yards less per game than the top team. They are 24th in passing, averaging a mere 204 yards per game and 19th in rushing.  Being in the bottom half of both categories offensively, won’t get you too far.  Worst of all, the team only averages 17.5 points per game, good for 27th in the league.

To top that off, their number one receiver, at least by their definition, Diontae Johnson, doesn’t have a single touchdown catch through 13 games.

Most of this is on Matt Canada.

But Canada isn’t the only glaring contributor to the 5-8 record.

We can’t overlook the defense, who just this past week against the Ravens, allowed a third string quarterback who had never taken a snap in the NFL to complete a throw out of the back of his own endzone on the very first play of his career and the subsequently let the Ravens convert a massive 3rd down and three, running the ball when the entire stadium knew that play was coming.

The defense has issues.  Defensively, the team ranks 22nd overall, allowing 358 yards per game.  They sit at 24th in passing, giving up 242 yards per game and in the middle of the pack, 15th in rushing, allowing 115 yards per game.  They also allow 22.5 points per game, good for 14th in the league.

When you don’t have a single unit or statistic that ranks at the top of the league, and most rank at the bottom of the league, you’re not going to win many ball games.

The real issue here though, is the defense is largely a veteran group and was supposed to carry this team. They were supposed to be a top five, or better, unit. They aren’t.  They aren’t coached well enough. They aren’t talented enough and they aren’t a group that should be kept together, in whole, after this season.

Not surprisingly, after seeing those stats, the team’s wins have mostly come against losing teams, who have a combined record of 28-36-1.  Even more of an issue, only two of the five wins have come against an AFC opponent.

The team has four games left, and if they somehow find a way to win all four, they’ll finish with a miraculous winning record of 9-8, which still won’t be enough to get them into the playoffs but would be quite impressive.

But after having gone through all the numbers, I don’t see how that will happen. It’s possible they’ll go 2-2 down the stretch and finish 7-10 but that’s the best case scenario, in my eyes.

Steelers at Panthers

Pittsburgh will try to get one of those possible two wins this coming Sunday in Carolina against the 5-8 Panthers.  The Panthers, by virtue of playing in a poor division, control their own destiny and should they win out, will make the playoffs as the division winners. They have a lot to play for.

They are however, a bad team and for whatever reason, the Steelers are 3-0 against the NFC South this season.

This time of year, it’s really the same story to success. Control the clock, run the football and play good defense.  Despite the statistics the steelers currently sport, I suspect they’ll be able to do this vs. Carolina and will end up 4-0 against the NFC South. It won’t have much of an impact on their playoff chances, but it will stave off official elimination for at least another week.

Steelers 22  Panthers 20


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