Practice is the part of the week we can’t see. But to Keith Butler, it played a role in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ allowing 35 points to the Oakland Raiders Sunday.
“We weren’t as sharp mentally as we should have been,” Butler told Missi Matthews in the weekly Coordinator’s Corner segment. “Some of that was, we put some stuff in, ran it a few times, and had to redo it a couple times on the practice field to make sure we got it right. Usually when you do that, you’re not as focused as you should be.”
That was abundantly clear Sunday with the Steelers giving up several splash plays to the Raiders. Amari Cooper was left wide open on a touchdown, Seth Roberts got down to the one on a busted play, and the Raiders’ run game gashed the Steelers’ several times. averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
Attention to detail can’t be undersold even against a relatively weak Cleveland Browns’ offense. They are still full of playmakers and rank second in the league with nine completions of 40+ yards. With speed across the board at receiver, the Steelers can’t afford to blow coverages like they did Sunday.
Butler also pointed out the usual importance of stopping the run.
“[The Browns] offensive line is still good. It’s the same people we played last year. Pretty much the same tight end and stuff like that. We gotta be ready to play and we gotta be gap conscious like [Coach Tomlin] said. Have that gap integrity in both the subpackage and our regular okie, what we call 34 defense,”
As Butler noted in the interview, the Browns gashed the Steelers on the ground in each game in 2014. They ran for 191 yards and 6.2 per attempt in the first contest and another 158 with three rushing touchdowns in the second. It was their best season performance against the Steelers since the merger.
The Browns’ rushing attack is spinning their wheels in 2015, however. As a team, they’re averaging 3.5 yards per carry and only two rushing touchdowns.