So far through first five games of the Pittsburgh Steelers 2014 season we have seen some good football mixed in with a fair share or better of bad. Sunday against the Cleveland Browns it’s time for this year’s version of the Steelers to show us whether or not they’re going to be contenders or pretenders this season.
Here are five ways they can show us that they are contenders Sunday against the Browns.
- Finishing Drives With Seven – The Steelers offense has averaged 404 yards per game so far this season and that number ranks them 4th overall in the league. The problem, however, is that the team is only averaging 22.8 points per game and that’s mostly a result of the offense going 7-16 inside the red zone through the first five games.
- Stop The Outside Zone Run – Over the course of the last three games the Steelers defense has only allowed a total of 161 yards. That’s fine and dandy but none of those three teams possessed the talent or scheme that is required to run the outside zone consistently. The Browns, who the Steelers face again Sunday, are perhaps one of the best outside zone running teams currently in the league. Holding them under 100 yards in this game will show that the defense has indeed fixed their early season run defense problems.
- Stop The Stupid Penalties – Good teams limit the stupid pre and post snap penalties that have plagued this Steelers team so far this season. If you add up the false start, unsportsmanlike conduct, neutral zone infraction, defensive offside, taunting, illegal formation, illegal motion and illegal substitution penalties so far this season you get a total of 18 pre and post snap violations that really are avoidable.
- Flipping The Field – So far this season the Steelers offense has only started one possession inside their opponents territory. To make matters worse, 24.53% of the Steelers 53 offensive drives so far this season have started inside their own 20 yard-line. Whether it be by turnover over improved special teams play, this Steelers team needs to start flipping the field better moving forward.
- 60 Minute, Consistent Performances – This Steelers team is talented enough to win 10 games this season thanks to the schedule they face. However, they have to start playing more complete games in order for that to happen. The offense has had a few solid quarters so far this season, but now they have to show that they can do that for an entire game. Additionally, the Steelers defense needs to start continually closing out games like they did last Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars as opposed to giving away games like they did the previous week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.