2017 South Side Questions: Does Steelers’ Sunday Performance Merit Concern?

The journey toward the Super Bowl is now well under way with the Pittsburgh Steelers back practicing at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, still informally referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility. With the regular season standing in their way on the path to a Lombardi, there will be questions for them to answer along the way.

We have asked and answered a lot of questions during the preseason and through training camp, but much of the answer-seeking ends in the regular season, and teams simply have to make do with what they have available to them. Still, there will always be questions for us.

You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the regular season and beyond as they develop, looking for the answers as we evaluate the makeup of the Steelers on their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.

Question: Should there be concern for the future over how the Steelers played in the season opener?

Barring injury news, there seems to be no more hotly-debated topic concerning the Steelers right now than just how absolutely terrible their season-opening victory was and how it is a demonstration of their inability to get off to fast starts, to put away lesser opponents, and any number of failings.

It is true that the Browns held the Steelers to just 21 points, and that the offense only scored 14 of those points. It is true that the game could have easily broken in a slightly different way in which they would have ended up losing the game. It is true that there was a lot of room for improvement in that showing in Cleveland.

There was also a lot of room for improvement in their showing against the Eagles in the third game of the 2016 season as well, and then they did improve, well enough to make it one game shy of the Super Bowl. So having a humdrum victory over the Browns in the season opener is not going to guarantee future failure.

But okay, let’s talks about some of the failings. First of all, there were a ton of penalties. This has to be worked on. It’s fixable, but it needs to be addressed. Vance McDonald did not have a good game. Joe Haden could have had a much worse game had DeShone Kizer hit on more of his targets.

The offensive line’s run-blocking was not up to par, nor was Le’Veon Bell. Martavis Bryant was far from polished. A lot of the defensive pressure stemmed from Kizer not knowing when to get rid of the ball.

Lots and lots of bad ways to spin that win. So how hard do you spin it? How much of what we saw in the negative column on Sunday bears worrying about when it comes to their next game against the Vikings?

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