It’s not easy to play a much uglier brand of football than what the Pittsburgh Steelers put on display earlier today, in a 41-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals that probably wasn’t even as close as the final score actually indicates. It’s certainly one of their worst losses in quite a while, perhaps near the top of the Mike Tomlin era.
A lot of it had to do with the poor performance the team got out of the trenches on both sides of the ball. The offensive line hardly got any movement in the running game, which shows in the numbers. The defensive line was a sieve against Bengals running back Joe Mixon and company.
“I thought that we got beat up front on both sides of the ball and they won the line of scrimmage”, head coach Mike Tomlin said during his post-game press conference a short time ago. “When you win the line of scrimmage, the game has a chance to look like that. So we got a lot of work in front of us”.
They certainly do, and perhaps some of that will be addressed by getting healthier. They were missing a couple of players who should be back in a week or two, such as starting left guard Kevin Dotson and reserve J.C. Hassenauer defensively, and Carlos Davis on the other side of the ball—with Isaiah Buggs a healthy scratch on the day.
“We’re open to doing whatever’s required to change what’s trending”, Tomlin said when he was asked whether or not he was open to making any adjustments on either side of the ball concerning the lines. “You may certainly see changes”.
Realistically, there aren’t a ton of things that they can try. Zach Banner being plugged into the lineup would be one option, and that would undoubtedly be at right tackle. Then do you keep rookie Dan Moore Jr. at left tackle, or do you move Chukwuma Okorafor there? Until Dotson gets back, they could start Joe Haeg at left guard instead of B.J. Finney, who started today. Or Finney could start at center over the other rookie, Kendrick Green. Haeg could also play one of the tackle spots.
On the defensive side, Cameron Heyward is Cameron Heyward, and that’s about it. Chris Wormley has been starting all year for Stephon Tuitt, but I don’t think they have anybody else who could play better. Perhaps Isaiahh Loudermilk could get more snaps.
Davis should be coming off of the Reserve/Injured List shortly, if he comes off at all. They also have his twin brother, Khalil Davis, on the practice squad, who could perhaps be called up. Buggs evidently lost the confidence of the coaching staff, so he’ll have to prove himself again.
The only thing that could really make a difference is getting Tuitt back, but he basically hasn’t done anything substantially football-oriented since last season. Unfortunately, what few options that they do have in terms of change isn’t likely to make much of a difference.