Pittsburgh Steelers: 5 Things Learned After First Week of Regular Season
5 Things We Learned After Week 1
They always say that preseason records really don’t indicate what a team will do in the regular season. Well, for the Pittsburgh Steelers, so far it looks like their 0-4 exhibition record is a precursor of their 2013 season. This past Sunday, the Steelers showcased arguably their worst all-around performance ever in a 16-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
Granted, some of the misfortune could be accredited to losing three players to season-ending injuries. Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey went down with a torn ACL and MCL after getting rolled up on by a teammate. Running back LaRod Stephens-Howling also tore his ACL, while the season of linebacker Larry Foote came to an abrupt halt when he tore his biceps.
A lot of things can be taken from this Week 1 meltdown, and unfortunately, none of them are good. Pittsburgh’s running game was less than pedestrian, tallying only 32 yards. The offensive line was as porous as a sponge, and even though the numbers don’t show it, the Titans were able to control the clock on the Steelers with their running game.
Actually, the only good thing that came out of Week 1 for Pittsburgh is that after the dust settled Sunday, they still found themselves tied for first place in the AFC North because the three other teams in the division lost also.
However, staying atop the AFC North doesn’t look good for the Steelers right now. Fixing what we’ve learned about them this past week is possible, but will take a lot of doing, and needs to be done in a hurry.
Here are five things that we’ve learned about the Steelers after the first week of the season.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+
5. Special Teams Problems Spilled Over From Preseason
Just like the preseason, Pittsburgh’s special teams didn’t impress. It started with the opening kickoff, which sailed short. Fortunately, Tennessee’s return man fielded the kick at the one-yard line and knelt the ball in the end zone for a safety. Then there was the illegal block that resulted in a 15-yard penalty.
4. Heath Miller Needs to Come Back Quick
With the exception of an 11-yard reception by David Johnson, the tight end position was nonexistent in the Steelers’ offense. No looks were given to David Paulson in the red zone, which seemed to be the opportune time. Bottom line, the sooner Heath Miller returns to the lineup, the better.
3. Isaac Redman Shouldn’t Be Starter
To say that the performance of running back Isaac Redman was bad would be considered a compliment. Redman had eight carries for a measly nine yards, and his number of fumbles (two) were greater than his yards-per-carry average (1.1). The Steelers just reunited with running back Jonathan Dwyer after losing Stephens-Howling for the year. Pittsburgh should at least consider starting him.
2. Big Ben Will Run For His Life All Season
After seeing the protection that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger got from his O-line (or lack thereof), it’s safe to say that offensive coordinator Todd Haley will have to come up with some alternative blocking schemes to protect the face of the franchise. Five sacks surrendered in Week 1 plus the absence of Pouncey from the offensive front equals panic.
1. Injuries Could Possibly Take Steelers Out of Contention in AFC North
With Pouncey, Foote, and Stephens-Howling gone for the year, the Steelers are not only thin on the depth chart at certain positions, but they will be lacking in leadership on the field. Pouncey is the cornerstone of the offensive line, and the same can be said for Foote regarding the linebacking corps. Losing so much in such little time might be overwhelming for a team that’s already ailing.