The Pittsburgh Steelers have certainly not been at their best lately, and that goes for both sides of the ball. The defense has played two good halves in each of the past two weeks, in the first half, but their performance in the second half has led to losses, especially without the offense being able to shoulder the load.
After 11 straight victories, they are now looking at their first losing streak of the season, and as you would expect, the talk in the locker room has shifted. The fun and games, sort of, has subsided, and everyone understands that there is work to be done.
“The conversations are more detail-oriented, because I feel like we lost because we kind of strayed away from that, and that’s what happens when big plays happen is just small little details that you weren’t paying attention to gets you beat”, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick told reporters on Thursday.
“I think our conversation is more detail-oriented. It’s more solution-oriented, because if you’re just talking about the problem the entire time, nothing’s gonna get done”, he added. “But we have great leadership in Coach T and our OC and DC and from the vet guys, so we’re very solution-oriented, and that’s what we’re gonna focus on and avoid all the negative talk”.
The chief concern for most is the fact that the offense hasn’t put up more than 17 points in a single game in several weeks now. They scored 19 as a team against the Baltimore Ravens, but that was with the benefit of a Joe Haden touchdown off of an interception.
And yes, there has been some availability concern during that stretch. Guys like James Conner, Maurkice Pouncey, Stephon Tuitt, Vince Williams, Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, and Robert Spillane, as well as Bud Dupree, have all missed at least one game over the past two or three weeks.
But nobody is concerned about who isn’t on the field when they are out there playing. You can’t worry about who you don’t have available. You have to trust that whoever is in the game is going to execute his role, and leave you to execute yours.
Where it comes down to personnel is during the work week and between snaps, in terms of communication and being on the same page. As Fitzpatrick said, it’s about being on the details and making sure that everybody is on the same page, first and foremost.
There hasn’t been enough of that on either side of the ball lately, and they are now starting to drop games because of it. If the AFC North title isn’t enough motivation to button things up this week—though technically they can claim the title before kickoff if the Cleveland Browns should lose—then it’s hard to believe they will turn things around.