While the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense and special teams did spot them a couple of short fields, overall, their defense could have, and should have, done a better job of containing quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
Their primary gameplan was to prevent Davante Adams from beating them, and while the veteran receiver did make a few plays, they ultimately held him in check. But instead, they allowed the ground game to get going, and Rodgers found Randall Cobb for the action instead.
The pass rush was better than last week, which isn’t saying much, but still left something to be desired. That isn’t too surprising given that their edge rushers are not 100 percent, both of them having missed last week’s game due to groin injuries. But they know what they’re doing isn’t enough.
“We know we’ve got to be better. I’ve got to be better as a player”, second-year Alex Highsmith said after the game. “We’ve all got to be better as a whole team. We’re just gonna digest the film tomorrow and see how we can get better. That’s all we can do. All we can do is digest the film. But we know we can play better, and we know we’re going to”.
Confidence is a motivator, but it’s easier said than done. The defense as a whole is making too many mistakes, missing assignments in coverage, lacking discipline in their rushing lanes, and the better quarterbacks that they are facing this year have been able to burn them.
There were some positives. They held Rodgers to a 55.6 completion percentage, for example, after coming into the game leading the NFL in accuracy. They sacked him three times and hit him several others. But he also threw for a touchdown and ran for another, and didn’t turn the ball over (though they almost got one interception).
Head coach Mike Tomlin talked post-game about being on the details, and about how that will lead to splash plays. How do you get on the details after four weeks into the regular season, though? What are you not doing that you need to be doing?
Frankly, this defense just needs more time playing together, first and foremost. But that is not the limit of their issues. They have new contributors like Joe Schobert and rookie Tre Norwood. With Tyson Alualu and Stephon Tuitt sidelined, the defensive line is facing challenges it hasn’t had to deal with for years.
Can they play better? Absolutely, and they did, back in Week 1. Will they play better? Well, that’s certainly yet to be determined. They host the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks in the next two weeks before their bye. If they’re still not on the details by the time they hit the round to face the Cleveland Browns in Week 8, well, you can probably write the rest of the season off.