Taken from the grade book of a teacher who wonders why he’s getting Special Ed level performance out of a student who should at least be average, there is the Pittsburgh Steelers Report Card for the loss at Cleveland.
Ben Roethlisberger is in a funk. For two straight games now, he’s simply been off. Yes, he got screwed with an interception that wasn’t a pick. Yes, his receivers did little to help him in some cases. But in other cases he was simply off as his 50% completion rate suggests. Ben may not bear all of the blame for this team’s offensive ineptitude, but he is the focal point on that side of the ball. Grade: D
Le’Veon Bell put together a nice day rushing the ball and caught another 4 passes for 23 years. LeGarrette Blount also ran well, as did Dri Archer. The Steelers offensive was terrible, but you can’t really put that on the running backs. Grade: B
Heath Miller caught two passes for 19 yards, Matt Spaeth as usual did not get targeted, neither did Michael Palmer. Miller missed a key block in the red zone, which was costly. Grade: C-
Antonio Brown had a great game. The same cannot be said for the rest of the receiving crops, who looked like they’d never met Ben Roethlisberger let alone played with him before. Markus Wheaton managed 4 catches on 11 targets. Justin Brown had 2 catches. Lance Moore had 1 including a touchdown, although he missed one he should have had. Something is a miss here. Grade: D+
Ben Roethlisberger was sacked twice, although both of those came at inopportune moments. Overall the line play was solid, although better run blocking in the red zone was necessary. One might also suggest the unit should have been more dominant given Cleveland’s thin defensive line. For the second straight week, Kelvin Beachum committed a penalty that moved the Steelers out of a goal line situation. Grade: C-
Cameron Heyward led the group and was a force early on but faded a bit. Brett Keisel had a strong game. Stephon Tuitt saw his first significant action and came away with a tackle. The quality of the run defense dropped with Steve McLendon out. Overall this unit’s performance was strong, but far from spectacular. Grade: C
Lawrence Timmons continues to be this unit’s most consistent player and lead the team in tackles. Jason Worilds had two tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Arthur Moats was invisible, and outplayed on the stat sheet by James Harrison. Sean Spence had seven tackles and a QB hit. But there were no sacks, no splash plays, no game changers in sight. Grade: D
After two strong games Cortez Allen looked like an amateur. Troy Polamalu was out of place a on a number of key plays as was Michael Mitchell, who did have two touchdown saving hits. Overall this until was plagued by the wrong-place, wrong time syndrome when the team could least afford it. Grade: F
The Steelers coverage units were strong, but for the sixth straight week, Pittsburgh saw nothing from its return game. Brad Wing knocked off some long punts, but the Steelers couldn’t seem to pin the Browns down deep. However, this unit failed in the most basic of its functions, bumbling a should be automatic field goal when Wing mismanaged a perfect snap. That served as the catalyst Cleveland needed. Unacceptable. Grade: F
Something is going on with these Steelers and it isn’t good. Realistically, the Steelers have 9-7ish talent, but their consistent 10 point offensive efforts speak more to a team with 4-12, 5-11ish talent.
While the defense should not get a free ride for giving up two horrendous long plays, they were playing without 4 starters, and this unit was expected to struggle. While Dick LeBeau’s defense might have better talent than it displayed yesterday, this group is in no way qualified to carry the team, which is what the offensive performance is demanding.
- And the offense really is a mystery.
The Steelers have an a franchise quarterback, an All Pro wide out, a tight end who, although he may be beginning to decline, is still one of the best in the game, and a budding running back. The team has invested heavily in the offensive line.
Yet, the Steelers offense can only manage 10 points against weak defenses.
That’s a performance worth more of Mark Malone, Weegie Thompson, Walter Abercrombie and Preston Gothard as opposed to one turned in by Roethlisberger, Brown, Bell and Miller.
In the past, Todd Haley’s units ranged from solid to averge in the Redzone. Now it’s the dead zone. Something’s not right, not right at all, and at the end of the day blame lies with Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley. Right now, their performance is way, way below the line. Grade: F
Unsung Hero Award
On a day when nothing seemed to be going right after the first 15 minutes, Brett Keisel showed how it was done, but running down Jordan Cameron on a 42 yard pass. Defensive lineman are not supposed to make plays that far down field, but Keisel’s heart and effort, if nothing else, provided an example to the rest of the team of the type of effort that will be necessary if the Steelers are to avoid a season-dooming tail spin and for that Brett Keisel wins the Unsung Hero Award for the loss at Cleveland.