7 gut reactions from the Pittsburgh Steelers week 3 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles:
1 – Guard David DeCastro had a tough day on Sunday. The blocked field goal on the Steelers first drive came through DeCastro’s gap. He also gave up back to back sacks in the third quarter, the second sack caused Ben Roethlisberger to fumble and the Eagles recovered the ball.
2 – The Steelers showed how thin they are depth-wise on defense. The injuries piled up today and it was apparent. With both Steelers middle linebackers, Ryan Shazier and Lawrence Timmons injured, as well as safety Robert Golden, the middle of the Steelers defense went from a strength to a weakness in a matter of a quarter. Even though Shazier tried to continue playing, he wasn’t his normal self. He struggled to get off blocks and pursue the Eagles stable of running backs.
3 – The kick return team unit has been underwhelming. I don’t think I’ve seen a kick return make it out to the 25-yard line yet this season. With that being said, the Steelers kick returners need to be smart, if they can, take a knee and let the offense start from the Steelers 25-yard line. At least until the blocking improves.
4 – As I wrote last week, DeAngelo Williams could make a case for league MVP through the first two games of the season. Today was a different story, the Steelers got behind and quickly abandoned the run. Essentially they didn’t force the Eagles to stop Williams, the Steelers did it themselves by taking the ball out of his hands.
5 – It seemed like a lot of Steelers fans were excited for the return of Markus Wheaton. A veteran wide receiver who can run the whole route tree and is familiar with both Roethlisberger and the offensive scheme. But his return quickly turned into a liability. He dropped multiple passes throughout the game including the one in the end zone that resulted in a blocked field goal and a momentum swing that the Steelers never recovered from.
6 – Obviously the tackling was horrible today and this was the perfect offense to exploit it. Eagles running backs Wendell Smallwood, Kenjon Barner and Darren Sproles are all small backs that can catch the ball and wreak havoc in the open field. And wreak havoc they did, all three backs scored touchdowns today that involved missed tackles by the Steelers defense. Take note that we play the Kansas City Chiefs next week and that’s where this offense evolved. I touched on that earlier in the week in my Coaching Tree article.
7 – Don’t get me wrong, every team misses some tackles, commits penalties and makes mental mistakes. But what amazes me is how the Steelers are able to do so with such horrible timing that they essentially become their own worst enemy. It’s stunning how many 3rd and longs the Eagles were able to turn into big plays against the Steelers defense. Even worse, if the Steelers somehow managed to get a stop, it always seemed like a defensive committed a timely penalty and gave the Eagles new life. The Steelers highly touted offense wasn’t much better. Holding, false starts, drops, the lack of a running game and constant pressure on Roethlisberger never let the offense get on schedule and it showed throughout the game.
What are your gut reactions?