The Pittsburgh Steelers still hold out hope of making the postseason this year. They have a tough road ahead of them if that is their destination, though they still largely control their own destiny if they can rattle off a string of wins; they have been getting some favorable results in the past week from the games of rival teams.
Of course, if they continue to play the way that they have been, they’re not going to be winning many games, especially with a tough remaining schedule starting with the Tennessee Titans, followed by the Kansas City Chiefs, the Baltimore Ravens, and the Cleveland Browns.
At a bare minimum, it will require playing complete games, at least 60-minute games, rather than relying on comebacks late in the game. That applies to both sides of the ball, though the offense’s slow starts have been an ongoing problem, as they have among the worst first-quarter scoring offenses in the league. So how do you fix that?
“It starts off with just doing the little things, finishing plays, finishing our blocks—me and Pat [Freiermuth], finishing runs or just finishing through the catches and trying to dig out extra yards”, running back Najee Harris told reporters on Friday. “Even after catches, trying to get more YAC”.
“And try to execute better”, he added. “We’ve really got to execute better, I feel like. It’s a lot of factors for us to be starting fast, but I think the most [eye-catching] thing is just execution. We need to execute better. 100 percent”.
That might be the understatement of the year. The offensive line in particular has left much to be desired in terms of the level of execution in their play, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger himself has plenty to answer for, even if he is coming off perhaps his best game of the year.
We can’t realistically expect much to change this year, to be blunt. This offense is what it’s going to be at least until next year, and what comes after that remains to be seen. They will certainly have to take a hard look at the offensive line…and figure out who is going to be throwing the ball, as well.
But this isn’t about the future, it’s about now. Can they come out of the gates better? Theoretically, yes, and the best place to improve in that area is to stop hurting themselves with penalties, which have stalled many first-quarter drives throughout the season, whether pre-snap or post-snap issues.
That also falls under execution. But do I think they are ‘warming up’, and only playing to their full potential by the end of the game? Not really. There’s no reason they can’t play as well in the first quarter as they might in the second half; it’s just a matter of doing it, which too often, they haven’t.