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Sep 23

Steelers Demise is About Cause and Effect

Troy Polamalu returns the Steelers lineup SundayWhen I was a kid, I had a chance to spend a lot of time in the state of Texas. During those times I actually met and visited with legendary Houston Oilers’ coach Bum Phillips who held daily games of dominoes at his ranch each morning.

While my dad chatted with Bum and his friends about daily cattle prices I usually grabbed extra dominoes and would line them up and flick the first one while trying to avoid the tobacco spit.

In perfect order they would fall one after the other. It’s really a simple equation of cause and effect and this is what is killing the 2013 Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now at 0-3, the Steelers are the perfect example of how poor drafting leads to poor coaching which leads to poor play which leads to mistakes and ultimately, they end in losses.

This just isn’t a very good football team folks no matter how you choose to slice it. Any time you rotate your offensive tackles you are basically saying, “I have no idea what works” and I’m quite certain that’s a fact.

Despite several high draft picks, this offensive line is the first and most important domino that falls. Mike Adams and Marcus Gilbert are nothing short of busts at this point in their careers. You can call them young and still lacking experience but they aren’t good. Let’s be honest about that.

David DeCastro is in much the same position. While he had moments in the running game where he looked the part of a first round draft pick, he too has not lived up to his potential. He is but another falling domino that has already felled an all-pro center.

The issues up front have led to the careless play of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who threw an interception for a touchdown last night and fumbled the ball away twice leading to two more touchdowns. Despite throwing for over 400 yards, Roethlisberger was his own worst enemy in the loss to Chicago.

Many will point to the constant pressure he is under as to the main reason for his turnovers but he has to be accountable too. You just can’t be that loose and careless with the football regardless of the situation.

From there, the dominoes fall in rapid succession in a number of directions. The running game showed some life last night but is still woefully inept and leads to a series of questions about why the coaches continue to employ the ‘committee’ approach when it just doesn’t work.

Todd Haley is one of the larger pieces that fall on a weekly basis but last night can hardly be blamed on him. Bitch about play-calls all you’d like but five turnovers aren’t on him.

The defense did its’ best to keep the Steelers in the game but again went without causing a turnover and at the very moment they needed their most important stop, Jay Cutler delivered the knock-out blow to Robert Golden on a first down scramble when the Bears faced a 3rd and long.

The Steelers will not overreact to being 0-3 because it isn’t in their nature to do so. There will be no major personnel moves and there will be no firing of coordinators or the head coach as many have called for in recent weeks.

The dominoes will keep falling until the front office decides to break the status quo. The scouting department needs a shake-up and so does the thinking. The paradigm must change before there aren’t any dominoes left to play with.

Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.

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3 comments

  1. Chris/SteelByDesign

    The NFL system is set up to ‘reward” bad teams, and “punish” good teams with the way the draft works. If you’re exceptionally smart, talented, and (mostly) lucky you can beat the system and be good, and stay good.

    The Steelers front office was smart, talented, and lucky enough to stay at the top for a very long run… and right now we’re just falling victim and paying the price of being successful, and we’re rebuilding. And we’re not the only ones…

    I really don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of. Every team goes through it. I just picked, somewhat randomly… The 2008 playoffs, five years ago.

    Teams in the playoffs that season were Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Miami, San Diego, Indianapolis, Baltimore, New York Giants, Carolina, Minnesota, Arizona, Atlanta, Philadelphia.

    I would argue that almost every single one of those teams is either on a downturn, or WAS on a downturn in the past 5 years. Teams like Pittsburgh, New York, and Baltimore managed to sustain success and are starting to fade now.

    Tennessee, Miami, San Diego, Indianapolis, Carolina, and Philadelphia have ALL been bad teams since then.

    I think Atlanta is the only team in that playoff pool that hasn’t taken a big downturn since then. They’ve managed to stay in playoff contention.

    1. steeldad

      I think you raise excellent points Chris and this is, I guess, what I’m getting at when I say the dominoes are falling due to one bad thing after another. I have to also wonder if the message isn’t getting old too much like it has in New York. I’m not saying Tomlin is the problem, but sometimes significant change is needed when you already know the team is trending downward.

      1. Chris/SteelByDesign

        I see what you’re saying, but some teams like us when we drafted Ben after going 6-10, or the Colts team that came back after going 2-14 can bounce back pretty quickly… And I think this team can.

        We have pieces, so I’d hate to blow it up with a new staff. Because they’ll want to start over with their own guys most likely (like you’re seeing now in Cleveland).

        We have a franchise QB (which is the hard part). And we’re pretty good at skill positions. I think we’re a solid LT away from being a decent OL after going through some growing pains. Adams move to the left side has weakened both tackle spots. I want a high first rounder playing on the left side and Adams playing on the right. I’d also like to extend Velasco and have him (or Pouncey even) in the mix at LG.

        Defensively Jarvis Jones and Shamarko have shown that they have the instincts to eventually be pretty good. You’ve got Cam Heyward and McClendon starting to come around.

        Long story short.. There’s pieces to build around, which is why I wouldn’t necessarily want some huge change.

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