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: What was the biggest disappointment of the first half of the season for the Steelers?
For a team who stands atop the AFC with control of their own destiny for homefield advantage throughout the playoffs, it would seem that there is no shortage of things that people can find to complain about. So how about we just get right to them?
To be honest, there are some legitimate issues with this team that threaten to derail their Super Bowl hopes, or at least there have been through the first eight games. The overall performance of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being the biggest one, simply because he has the biggest impact on the team’s success or failure.
Then there has been the unsuccessful return of Martavis Bryant, who has been no better than average when he has played and has created issues off the field due to his frustrations on the field. Many were counting on him coming in and playing the best football of his career, which has not happened by any means.
Bigger than these issues are situational problems, in my opinion. The Steelers rank poorly offensively in converting on third down, which is a major concern that has stalled too many drives. They’ve also been average at best in the red zone in converting those trips into touchdowns. The defensive red zone work is at least trending up.
The major lapses in the run defense in a few games this year has been worrisome for some as well, and an extension of that is an exceeding number of missed tackles, which have directly contributed to some of those successes on the ground.
I’m sure there are other issues I’m leaving out. I will say that I would prefer to keep this strictly about football and football-related issues. I think you know what I’m talking about.