9/27/22-At 1-2, Steelers have Serious Problems

By: Mike Pelaia

At 1-2, the Steelers face a must win game against the New York Jets this coming Sunday afternoon.  It seems miraculous, at this point, that the team even has the one win.

Pittsburgh is riddled with problems and if they don’t find a way to beat the Jets on Sunday to move to 2-2, they will be staring down the barrel of a possible 1-7 start. The next four matchups after this week are against the Bills, Buccaneers, Dolphins and Eagles.  Who amongst us believes this current Steelers team has a shot in any of those games?

Obviously, the team misses TJ Watt, tremendously, yet in the two game since his injury, the defense has pretty much held their own.  Watt is a game changer and certainly missed but this defense is strong enough to keep the team competitive in his absence.

I do think there are some players that need to step up a bit more and while I am giving the defense some kudos, they are not a unit that is in the top five of the league, like many like to think or perhaps pretend to think.

Tyson Alualu hasn’t made much of an impact upon his return this year.  He needs to do better in the run game and find a way to pressure the quarterbacks more.  He can contribute significantly more than he has to this point in the season. The Steelers have decided to demote him and rightfully so, until he can step back up.

Malik Reed, Watt’s replacement, isn’t getting it done. It’s by no means fair to compare him to Watt, but he’s not getting to the quarterback or making any plays to help this team win ball games, thus far.

Devin Bush, it’s time to cut bait.  He can play out the year but the former 10th overall pick has to go. He absolutely has the talent, but he’s not a good fit for this team at this point. He gets burned far too often, doesn’t seem to be in the right position and makes the wrong reads more often than not.

In the secondary, I’ve not been impressed with Terell Edmunds and now understand why he was a free agent for so long this past off season.  He is not good in coverage and while he makes some good plays, he makes his fair share of bad ones as well.

As far as the corners, the team should be calling Joe Haden right now and asking him to come out of retirement. They royally messed up in not bringing that man back. He was a leader and would still have been the top corner on a team that could desperately use one.

The defense, however, is far from the issue on this team, despite the aforementioned problem areas.  The offense has been and most likely will continue to be atrocious as long as Matt Canada continues to be offensive coordinator.

Canada is a fearful coordinator who doesn’t take chances and doesn’t get the ball in his play makers hands.  A lot of talking heads speculated that the Steelers offense played this way last year due to Ben Roethlisbergers lack of mobility.  Clearly, that wasn’t the case. It’s the same offense with a far more mobile Mitch Trubisky behind center. Canada does not utilize Trubisky’s legs, doesn’t call plays downfield and isn’t allowing the ball to be thrown to a very talented wide receiving corps featuring Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and George Pickens.  Pickens was a monster all summer long and should be a candidate for rookie of the year but instead, through three games, he as a mere five catches for 65 yards.  That’s on Canada and nobody else.

Canada won’t even allow his veteran quarterback to call and audible.  This is the NFL right?  Shouldn’t a vet quarterback who has experienced some success in this league be able to change the plays at the line of scrimmage?

Canada’s offense ranks 31st in total yards, 28th in passing yards per game, 23rd in rushing yards per game and are averaging a pitiful 18.0 points per game. None of that is nearly good enough.

In short, Canada should be fired.  Until he is, I don’t see this offense doing much.

The last time the Steelers played at home, the fans were chanting for Kenny Pickett instead of Mitch but I have news for you, that’s not the answer. Pickett won’t be the savior. He is the future and he probably will play this season, but this is not the time. Trubisky deserves at least the first eight games and quite frankly it would be a disservice to Pickett to throw him in against the Bills, Bucs, Eagles etc.  Let the kid learn for a bit, once the Steelers are way out of contention, then you can bring in the rookie to get the experience. Once you go to Pickett, there’s no going back.

But the play around whoever does play quarterback needs to improve. The line has done better than I thought but they need to hold blocks longer and keep a pocket.

Najee Harris can take the gaps that are created, when they’re created vs. running behind a wall that gets him an average of 3.2 yards per carry (132 yards on 40 carries through three games) and right now, I’d consider giving Jaylen Warren the ball more often.  Warren is faster and carries the ball for a 4.7 yards per carry average.

If the Steelers only fix one item, then it must be getting the ball to Pat Friermuth. Please, somebody scream it from the hill tops, get the ball to Friermuth.  His talent is being wasted away each week.

What will happen this week:

If the Steelers don’t fix at least some of the above problems, they won’t win the game against a very lowly and less talented New York Jets team.

It appears as though the Jets will be getting back to Zach Wilson at quarterback instead of Joe Flacco and quite frankly I think that’s good news for the Steelers. Wilson hasn’t played yet this year and is coming off an injury, so he should be rusty.  If the defense can blitz him, led by Alex Highsmith, I think they’ll force him to make mistakes.  My expectation is the Steelers will obtain at least 4 sacks and two turnovers on Sunday.

They’ll need the defense to perform at that level because the offense still won’t do much.  I figure the team will stick with the short dink and dunk approach, fail to throw the ball downfield and will muster up a touch over their 18 point average to score 20 points this coming Sunday.

This one week, that’ll be enough to win the game as the Jets may be one of the only teams who are worse than Pittsburgh is right now.

Steelers 20

Jets 16




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