What’s going on with the Pittsburgh Steelers? It’s a burgeoning question on everyone’s mind right now. After winning the first 11 games of their season, the Steelers have now lost 3 on the trot.
With the Playoffs on the horizon, the back-to-back losses to the Washington Football Team, Buffalo Bills, and most recently the Cincinnati Bengals, have left the Steelers reeling and looking for answers.
NFL analyst Mark Madden, while talking to former Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee during a segment of the latter’s show, talked about all the problems the Steelers are facing and the sweeping changes that need to be made.
One aspect of the game where the Steelers have struggled is their offense. Specifically, their running game. With the franchise averaging among the fewest running yards per game in the league, the Steelers have had to look at Ben Roethlisberger and the short passing game for yardage. A game plan that seemed to work earlier, but not so much right now.
“I’ve been telling people all season that they were not as good as their record. They beat up on a bunch of ground games, had very few signature wins… and now the chickens have come home to roost.
“Ben can’t get the ball anywhere. He is pushing the ball and has no confidence on a throw that goes more than 10 yards. Coach (Mike) Tomlin looks like a deer in headlights, he does not know what to do,” said Madden.
Responding to their poor form, Madden suggested that Big Ben and coach Tomlin should consider quitting the franchise if they fail to win a single playoff game.
“I think they may well lose out including their first one playoff game. And if that happens, Tomlin should be fired and Ben should retire. I am saying that because it’s gone on long enough.
“Tomlin has 3 playoff wins in a decade, and this is the third straight season, the team is abjectly collapsing. So if you don’t fire the coach and the quarterback doesn’t retire, you tell me, how do you fix it,” he added.
With the Steelers faltering, another player has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons, their wide receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Juju’s antics on the road have been well documented throughout the season. His tradition of dancing on the opposing team’s logo before the start of the game has been seen as disrespectful and distasteful.
Madden feels JuJu’s behavior is not the cause for the Steelers’ downfall but rather a symptom of the team not having any leaders in the mix.
“The JuJu thing is not a cause but rather the symptom. When a guy like that goes rogue, that lack of focus trickles down to the rest of the team.
“They have no leaders in that locker room. No leaders, only veterans, because a leader would have told JuJu to knock this off a long time ago. The problem isn’t Juju, he is just a symptom,” he said.
The Pittsburgh Steelers need answers and fast. Given their current trajectory, they’re set to miss out on the crucial AFC top seed. And if changes aren’t made fast, a deep playoff too seems unlikely.