There is only so much that you can pre-determine when it comes to sporting events. More times than not, it ultimately falls back simply to execution. And in the wake of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 30-9 loss to the Jaguars on Sunday, the players—particularly those on offense—are talking about just that: execution.
That included wide receiver Antonio Brown, who was the best player on the field on the day with 10 receptions for 154 yards, and a long touchdown taken away by a holding penalty on David DeCastro.
“It’s not about what we say. It’s about what we do”, he told reporters after the game, describing it as “less than ideal. We weren’t the better team today. Tomorrow lies another opportunity to be better and to get prepared for next week. It’s not about our preparation. It’s about us going out and executing”.
A lot of people have come out and criticized every coach that they can think of, and, to be sure, there is blame to go around, but as is almost always the case, so much of what ultimately goes around on any given play is because of the failure of at least one player to properly do his job.
Alejandro Villanueva, the Steelers’ left tackle who has gotten off to a bit of a rough start so far in his third full season on the 53-man roster, talked about the same idea. “We have the potential”, he said of their offensive prowess. “We have the great coaches, we have a good gameplan and system every single week”.
So what went wrong, in his estimation? “As players”, he concluded, “we’re just not executing it very well”.
Defensive captain Cameron Heyward was among those criticizing the team’s overall level of play, saying that there will be no “soul-searching” after the game, because it’s not about that. “We just have to play better”, he said. “We got beat in every phase, simple as that”.
And truth be told, Heyward was responsible for lapses in execution as well, getting washed out of a couple of the Jaguars’ successful runs on the day. Jacksonville has a very physical offensive line, and the front seven did not handle it very well overall.
And when they did, it was a lack of execution on the perimeter that proved to be the difference—as well as the vision of the ball-carriers to identify and exploit the weaknesses.
“We have to do a lot better job of playing the run”, Ryan Shazier said. “They were running the ball where they wanted to run it. Sometimes, if we didn’t have contain, they’d bounce it. If we weren’t in the gap were we were supposed to be, they’d shoot it”.
And sometimes they just got blown off the ball. Or missed a tackle. Or were beat on a block. Or tripped. Or missed a read. Or hit a punt off the foot wrong. Or any number of things. The failures of execution add up, and when you get enough of them, they often enough equate to an ugly loss.