Mike Tomlin said he and the coaching staff must do a better job of highlighting the Pittsburgh Steelers’ strengths on offenses while minimizing their weaknesses. Which leads to everyone asking one question.
What are the strengths of this offense?
Tomlin was asked that question during his Tuesday press conference and outlined where the offense has the best chance to win. His focus was on the skill positions.
“We got a quality set of eligible man,” he told reporters via the team’s YouTube channel. “Those guys are somewhat young, but they’re not young in football experience. Guys like Juju and Claypool and Diontae and James Washington have made a lot of plays for us. We’ve got good quality talent and a variety of talent at the tight end position in different skillsets. Pat, although new, has added to that and you’ve seen evidence of that over the course of the first couple of weeks. Although he lacks experience, man, Najee has shown in a very short period of time that he is capable of doing what’s required in terms of being a featured runner.”
On paper, the Steelers have a strong set of weapons. They’ve invested high in the draft at wide receiver. None of their guys are first-rounders, but Claypool, Johnson, Smith-Schuster, and Washington were all selected on Day 2 of the draft. And those guys have flashed at different points of their career, bringing different skillsets to the table.
Freiermuth looks as-advertised as the team’s second-round pick, a well-rounded tight end with great hands and better blocking than most rookies. He’s played a healthy amount of the team’s snaps this season, around 50%, though his snap share was down in Sunday’s loss to the Bengals. And Harris, though not perfect, looks more than capable of being this team’s bell cow. He’s missed just a handful of snaps this season and by far has the highest percentage of snaps by a RB in football.
Tomlin then briefly shifted his attention to the much maligned offensive line, even finding a bright spot there.
“I like Trai Turner and the veteran experience and expertise that he brings as a member of this unit. Many of those guys don’t have experience that he has. It’s cool to watch him mentor and share that experience with others. He can’t do it fast enough. We can’t do it fast enough. We’re coming together in some areas, but in some areas we have what what we perceive to be strengths. And some of them I outlined for you.”
Turner is by far the most experienced player along the O-line with nearly triple the career starts (92) compared to the offensive line combined (35). But until that group gets better across the board, and make no mistake, Turner isn’t the Pro Bowler he once was, it’ll be hard to properly utilize the skill positions and strength of the offense. Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t deserve a pass here either. He struggled as much as anyone Sunday afternoon and isn’t elevating the play of anyone around him.
It’s those core problems that make minimizing them such a challenge. But it’s the challenge this coaching staff will be forced to address this Sunday and for the rest of the year.