Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was in just his third season back in 2009 when he declared that his team would ‘unleash hell’ in December following a losing streak. It did not work, as they went out and played an awful game the following weekend, though they then rebounded, but still missed the postseason.
He has since then learned not to make such remarks, and he’s been better off for it. But that doesn’t change the fact that he and everybody else knows that things must change in order for his team to be able to deliver different results. He was pointed in his post-game remarks about taking advantage of the extra time off following their Thursday game to evaluate their options, particularly in the trenches.
“We were JV again tonight, and I’m talking about up front on both sides. We lost the battle in the line of scrimmages, and that’s football”, Tomlin said post-game. “We make no excuse. It is what it is. We’ve got to be better than we were. We’ll turn over every stone to do that. We’ve got a long week coming up between this and our next one. We’ll make good use of that time and assess not only what we’re doing but who we’re doing it with”.
There are more options along both lines than there might have been a couple of weeks ago. Defensively, you have Montravius Adams still growing into the system. He’s already played two games despite being here for a little over a week. Some extra time should do him good.
But there’s Carlos Davis and his brother, Khalil, who could be a part of this thing in the final four games of the season. Carlos has missed most of the season due to injury, yet he’s been a (presumably healthy) scratch for the past two games. If they want to make a change, there’s one.
Offensively, improving health provides perhaps some answers. Kevin Dotson has missed the past four games on the Reserve/Injured List with a high ankle sprain. He was placed on the list on November 20, now three weeks ago. Hopefully that’s far along enough. J.C. Hassenauer has also missed the past three games, and should now be eligible to return, if healthy.
That would at left get John Leglue out of the starting lineup. It would also allow them to consider the possibility of benching rookie center Kendrick Green, who has just not been good this season except when out in space. And his snaps have only gotten worse since the start of the season.
Of course, the elephant in the room is Zach Banner. He was supposed to be a starter, but he wasn’t healthy enough to start the season. The play from the tackle position has been very inconsistent from week to week, yet Thursday wasn’t so bad from Chukwuma Okorafor and Dan Moore Jr.