By HCR Staff | Sept. 20, 2019
The Pittsburgh Steelers are one of those franchises in football. They are well-known, respected and most importantly, win…Or at least they used to. Despite boasting a Super Bowl caliber roster just two years ago there have been a myriad of issues that have plagued them in their decline and stretch of underachievement. So what exactly is wrong with them?
Everyone agrees that the Steelers have quality ownership that manifests mostly in its stability — the Rooney family focus is football, and they have always shown patience and support for their top football executives and head coaches. Proof lies in them only hiring three head coaches in the last 50 years. Stability exists at the very top, but everything below warrants some reflection.
The start to this season is alarming. They rolled over in a lackluster Week 1 loss at New England, and they lost their home opener in addition to losing their starting QB Roethlisberger for season.
Of course, the losses were to two quality opponents. Notwithstanding that, here are some of the more troubling issues that we see with the Steelers.
- Subpar coaching talent? The Steelers, of course, are led by head coach Mike Tomlin, offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner and defensive coordinator Keith Butler. The question is would any independent observer place any of them within the top five in their respective roles in the NFL? We don’t think so.
- Offensive skill position talent drain. We do not see any significant impact players in this group, unfortunately. The Steelers once boasted three Hall of Fame quality leaders on offense, but now the cupboard appears fairly bare. Is James Conner a truly special talent at running back? Very good, but not special in our view. Is wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster a lead receiver? We believe he is an outstanding number two, but not a lead in the mold of a Julio Jones, A.J. Green, or Antonio Brown. Is tight end Vance McDonald elite? Solid, in our view, but also not a game changer.
- Team identity. One of the biggest issues that we see with the Steelers is that they have become a finesse team. For a long time, their team identity was of physicality — a team that could physically wear you down over 60 minutes. Now, the Steelers routinely throw it 40+ times, play without a fullback, and don’t have any enforcers on defense. The Steelers resemble every other middle of the pack NFL team. They have a chance on any given Sunday, but this is not a team that can impose its will and actually control a game. They used to be able to do that. Not anymore.