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Tom’s Ten Takes: Steelers vs Dolphins

Following each game in the 2022 Steelers season I will be giving you my 10 takes. These aren’t going to be hot takes and meant to shock the world. This will be instant reactions to the game written while still in that period just following the game when the emotions are high, and the ideas are fresh. Included will be thoughts, observations, queries, and reasons that caused me to yell at the television.

Game 7 – Miami Dolphins

1. Stubborn or Stupid? – There is a fine line between the two. It has been a year and a half under Matt Canada’s guidance and the offense is bad. We complained how bad it was last year with a Hall of Fame quarterback. They were nearly last in the league at 6.2 yards per attempt in 2021. It has not gotten better. Mitchell Trubisky was 6.2 yards per attempt. Kenny Pickett is 6.1. How much of sample size do you need to realize the ineptitude? The team has too much talent on offense to let this continue. I’m looking at you, Coach Tomlin. This change isn’t for the sake of change. It’s for the betterment of the team.

2. Sometimes Being Tacky is Good – Have you ever tried on those tackified gloves the players wear? They are incredible sticky. It’s hard to drop the ball when it hits your hands. Now I don’t know who wears them on the defense. Starting next week, I would make it mandatory. Four times! Four times they had a chance at an interception and did not make the play. At least two of those (Cam Sutton, Terrell Edmunds) should have been no-doubters. The outcome could have been much different if they make those plays.

3. Learning From The Dolphins – – The aquatic mammals are known to be very smart animals. You’ve seen those in captivity that can learn to do new tricks. Well, now it’s time to learn from them. It wasn’t hard to see that the passing offense Miami ran was the opposite of what Pittsburgh does. They peppered throws the entire game inside the numbers. They were able to pick apart the Zone defense with multiple big gainers. Can the Steelers “adopt” at least some of what they do? They need to use the whole field more consistently. Opponents do not fear this offense when most of the routes either run out or back toward the line of scrimmage.

4. Watt Are They Doing? – Derek Watt saw a handful of plays on the offense. I think he even was a starter in this one. It got me thinking. How have they done with Watt in the game? To put it plainly, not well. Prior to this game he was on the field for 18 offensive plays. The result was 37 total yards. On top of that the last 10 plays (excluding kneel downs) included 9 runs that gained 28 yards. Not only are they not producing yards they are telling the defense there is a high likelihood it’s a run. They need less of this.

5. Sackless in South Beach – It wasn’t a good game to be a pass rusher. A lot of that was based on the offensive design by Miami. The quarterback got the ball out quickly. However, even when they got him to hold on to the ball there was really no pressure. Alex Highsmith had one good rush late in the game. According to ESPN, they only had one quarterback hit. It is a huge part of the defense and without that portion being effective it makes the pass defense look even worse. Get well soon, T.J.

6. What Took So Long? – This is not the first time this happened. I think we would all agree that George Pickens is pretty darn good. So why does it take until halfway through the second quarter to get him the ball? Yes, he was covered by Xavien Howard a lot. Chris Collinsworth pointed out how tightly he was covering receivers. He failed to mention how much he was interfering downfield. Nevertheless, run a slant. Oh wait, they don’t run those. Run a curl and get him in the flow early. It’s so frustrating to watch this offense.

7. Drive Killer – I apologize there are a lot of complaining takes this week. But what was that jet sweep reverse garbage that Canada threw into a promising drive in the second quarter? Are you trying to not score? After gains of 30, 4, 4, 6, 6, 4 on somewhat traditional plays he reached into his bag of “hey, why not?” that rarely works and pulled that out. It took a 16-yard scramble by Pickett three plays later to save the drive. Tomlin needs to step in and kybosh this ridiculousness.

8. All Things Being Equal – Was it the right move to switch to Kenny Pickett? Full disclosure, I agreed with making the change. Trubisky wasn’t putting up points, but neither is Kenny. Trubisky turned it over twice; Pickett has thrown 7 interceptions. Albeit most were not his fault. The two in this game were on him. Trubisky threw for 797 yards on 128 attempts. Pickett has thrown for 771 on 127. Pickett may be the future and maybe that is where we should be looking. There is no way of knowing of Trubisky would have made a difference in this game, but those late turnovers were detrimental.

9. Like a Dragster’s Parachute – I have to give Teryl Austin credit again this week. I was ready to lambaste him early in the game as Miami came out like a Funny Car on drag strip. But unlike other coaches he made adjustments that severely slowed the Dolphins offense and gave the team a chance. The early defense sat in Zone coverage and was picked apart. He switched things up to disguise the coverages and also improve the run defense. Unfortunately, the team did not take advantage of the chances it was given. What looked like a blowout loss became a nail biter. Austin has been impressive so far this season.

10. Everybody Come Closer – The art of disguise is not a strong suit of the offense. On short yardage situations they rush up to line to try to surprise the defense. But first, let’s pull in every offensive player closer to the ball. The defense mirrors the action and expects the run. In past years they would go empty set (no running back in the backfield) with Ben Roethlisberger. He wasn’t running so it was going to be a pass. Spread out the offense. Give the quarterback the option to run it with fewer defenders in the box or throw it when it’s stacked. Make the defense have to defend everything.

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