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Monday Thoughts

The Steelers offense through three games has scored a grand total of 47 points, that averages out to a fantastic 15 points a game! Awesome. Most fans will put the blame on the following –

– The O-line

– The lack of execution by the players.

Here’s my problem with this line of thinking- When you currently have a mediocre, revolving door O-line why insist on not making hardly any changes in the gameplan to address it? This just further points to Bruce Arians being a completely mediocre NFL offensive coordinator. On the rare occasions Arians actually addresses a problem on this offense, the results tend to be totally ineffective. For example, last night the Steelers solution to taking the heat off Ben was to –

– Run Rashard Mendenhall up the middle on identical slow developing draw plays, mostly on 1st down of course. Not only does this put more pressure on the O-line since the Colts defense clearly saw these plays coming and the fact that the O-line needs to hold their blocks longer given the slow nature of these runs, but Mendenhall was running so ineffectively and hesitantly, it didn’t really matter regardless. No other RB’s were given runs until a good way into the 2nd half.

– On obvious passing situations stick to long developing pass plays and leave a rookie OT and a mediocre OT one on one against speed rushers Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Yes, the Steelers had TE’s and RB’s in on some pass plays to help out in pass blocking but there were a large number of plays where the Steelers went 5 wide, leaving no one back to help out on those blocking assignments. On the Colts strip sack and fumble return for a TD, no one was helping out Scott’s blocking assignment against Freeney. That is a complete mis-match and the Steelers inability at times to account for those matchups almost cost the Steelers the game. That is largely the coaching staff’s fault. I mean, Scott isn’t very good, you really expect him to block Freeney the entire game one on one? And before anyone blame Ben for that play, check out his receiving options, not ONE player ran a short route on the play.

The second reason listed “lack of execution” has some merit but the fact that the Steelers seem to be oblivious (both scheme-wise and personnel-wise) to the problems along the O-line makes it sort of hard for player’s to execute on a consistent basis. Pretty much every gameplan put together for this offense ignores the fact that the Steelers do not have a good O-line.

The obvious solutions to these problems lies ultimately with the gameplans being put together and not really with player execution. Running more delayed draws (which worked on the one or two times the Steelers ran them last night) and quick passing (which worked on the first and final drives of the game) are just some examples but Arians doesn’t seem interested in straying from ineffective and predictable playcalling until the Steelers get desperate.

What I found extremely frustrating is watching the Steelers final, game-winning drive last night. Why wasn’t the Steelers offense playing like that throughout the game, instead of just the first and last drives of the game? This is a question that could be asked in about 80% of the games the Steelers offense has played with Bruce Arians at the helm. Let’s take a look a quick look a the last drive.

– Short, quick pass to Wallace.

– Short, quick pass to Ward.

– Short, quick pass to Moore on a really nifty pick play out to the flat. WHERE has this play been?

It’s like the Steelers offense turns into an actual offense with purpose in these situations in games, why aren’t they playing like that at all times? Earlier in the 4th quarter, Ben had a super easy dump off to Mendy over the middle that went for an easy 5-7 yards. It was called back on a holding penalty, but why aren’t the Steelers doing that kind of play at least a few times a game? And Ben only attempted one deep pass all game, which seems to be the norm for this offense. One deep ball to Wallace per game and never attempt it again. It’s like the Steelers offense is their own worst enemy the majority of the time. Honestly, I’m not sure that will change with Arians at OC. There’s really no evidence that it will, but simply calling plays like they did on the opening and final drives ALL game could do wonders for this team.

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