The Pittsburgh Steelers are currently riding a four-game losing streak. On Sunday, they’ll look to snap it when they head to FirstEnergy Stadium to face the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns, with their 0-10 record, should — on paper — be an easy win for the Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger has handed plenty of losses to the Browns and, earlier this week, he admitted he can’t list all the names of the Cleveland quarterbacks he’s faced.
So if Pittsburgh gets a win against the Browns and the Steelers snap their losing skid, should head coach Mike Tomlin and his coaching staff still remain on the hot seat?
Tomlin and the Steelers should have won their last four games. Against the Miami Dolphins, the defense let Jay Ajayi run for 204 yards and two touchdowns. If the defensive line had played better, that could have been avoided. That loss is on both Tomlin and defensive coordinator Keith Butler.
Against the New England Patriots, a simple turnover in the endzone by backup quarterback Landry Jones certainly made a difference. So, too, did two missed field goals from Chris Boswell.
Two weeks ago against the Baltimore Ravens, the Steelers just didn’t have anything going on offense; the Steelers didn’t score a single point until the fourth quarter. Looking back, the Ravens didn’t do much better, but they still managed to do just enough to take home the ‘W.’ That poor performance is on Tomlin but, mostly, offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who couldn’t get a star-studded offense on the same page.
The Dallas Cowboys-Steelers game last week didn’t have too much wrong with it on Pittsburgh’s behalf — in fact, it was one of the best games of the season. Still a loss is a loss, and Tomlin made some questionable calls to go for four two-point conversions, all of which failed.
While the Patriots and Cowboys are two of the best teams in the league, the Dolphins and the Ravens aren’t. Baltimore was coming off a serious skid, and Miami hadn’t been able to do much. Pittsburgh has a bad history of losing to teams who don’t have winning records — like the Ravens and Dolphins. From the start of the 2014 season up until the Cowboys loss, the Steelers have lost 12 games to teams with lower records than them. The Ravens are on that list five times.
Could Pittsburgh’s lack of discipline play a role in those losses to “lesser” teams? Are the Steelers too relaxed in those type of games? If so, Tomlin needs to toughen up the reins on his team, and he needs the help of his coordinators.
The penalty count doesn’t help either. In the first 10 games of last year’s season, the Steelers totaled 58 penalties against them. This season, they’re up to 59 penalties. Pittsburgh’s highest penalty count this season came against the Ravens in Week 9 (13 penalties) where, for about the first half, the Steelers’ penalty yardage was greater than their yards on offense.
Pittsburgh isn’t going to fire Tomlin during the season. If the organization was going to, it would’ve done so already. The Rooney family has trust in Tomlin — and likes consistency at head coach — but the family is certainly keeping its mouth shut when it comes to discussing how much longer the Tomlin era will last in Pittsburgh.
So what about Butler and Haley?
Honestly, Haley doesn’t have much to work with. Sure, he’s got Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, but there isn’t much else. The Steelers have a small amount of depth at wide receiver, running back and, even, quarterback — which is problematic when Roethlisberger goes down with injury. Pittsburgh’s offensive line is working better together of late, but it still has a ways to go. With tight end Heath Miller retiring and Ladarius Green just getting used to the offense after missing most of the season with an injury, the Steelers’ offense is jam-packed with talent, it just needs time.
Regarding Butler, if the Steelers can’t figure out their pass rush and secondary qualms, then Butler might deserve to be given a pink slip at the end of the season.
Whatever happens for all of Pittsburgh’s coaches over the rest of the season, it’s safe to say that Tomlin and company are on the hot seat in the Steel City.
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