The Pittsburgh Steelers have done a lot of things right, and well, during the course of their four-game winning streak. Or, at the very least, they have done it efficiently enough that it hasn’t prevented them from winning.
But there are enough issues to spend the entire course of the work week on looking to improve in that area, and head coach Mike Tomlin knows exactly what is concerning him most of all following his team’s win over the Los Angeles Rams. He made special mention of it at the top of his press conference yesterday.
“An area that we’ve got to work on and improve is just our possession of the football”, he said. Not only did we see James Washington fumble after a big catch, losing possession, there was also Maurkice Pouncey’s botched snap over Mason Rudolph’s head, Rudolph’s sack in the end zone, and Diontae Johnson and Vance McDonald also putting the ball on the ground after receptions or fielding punts.
The Steelers were fortunate to have lost only two of those, but there were also the dropped passes to add to the discussion, including notable ones by JuJu Smith-Schuster and Johnson. McDonald and Jaylen Samuels also participated in that negative component of the game.
“I know sometimes losing a football is just born out of working extremely hard to make plays, particularly in regards to some of the young people, and they could be described as that, but the reasoning is irrelevant”, Tomlin said.
He was clearly addressing the likes of Washington, Johnson, Smith-Schuster, and James Conner, all of whom have lost crucial fumbles at different junctures of this season during the course of attempting to advance a play.
“When you’re working in the fashion that we’re working in terms of missing a number of significant people, particularly on the offensive unit, we’ve got to do good fundamental things like take care of the ball”, Tomlin continued. “That has been a bugaboo for us. We’ll continue to work in that area. It’s not like we haven’t placed an emphasis on working that area. It just hasn’t unfolded in the way that we would like in stadiums”.
If it were not for the defense playing out of its mind for stretches of this season and largely playing eraser, the Steelers would have been left with no margin for error following Ben Roethlisberger’s season-ending injury after being limited to just six quarters of play.
But all involved understand that the offense can’t rely upon the defense to carry them every week. This is a unit that has talent, but is holding itself back with preventable mistakes, unforced errors. There won’t be much time to work on that for the next game, coming up on Thursday, but perhaps with the 10-day break after that, they can address it in more detail.