Sunday, November 26, 2006

Season Over

For once, Steelers fans cannot blame a loss on Ike Taylor, special teams or turnovers. The key to the game was the offensive and defensive lines where the Steelers were totally dominated by the Baltimore Ravens. Offensively, the Steelers had only 21 yards rushing and Roethlisberger was sacked NINE times. Ben was probably pressured another dozen times. Defensively, the Steelers never pressured McNair and didn’t force any turnovers. The finals score was 27-0 but it wasn't even that close.

At 4-7, there is no hope for the playoffs. Five straight wins are not enough in a very competitive AFC. I also do not want to hear any discussion about trying to get a high draft pick. Although the Steelers have not played well much of this season, they are not going to have a Top 5 draft pick…Arizona, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Cleveland, Houston and Tennessee are all teams that are worse than the Steelers.

So what can the Steelers do to improve next year? The obvious answer is for Roethlisberger to cut down on interceptions and for the Steelers to get back to running the football. When Parker runs well, the Steelers win. The offensive line has to get better. Hartings may be at the end of his career, so the Steelers need to determine if part-time rapper Chukky Okobi is the answer at center. Defensively, the linebackers have not made as many plays as you would hope or expect. I think an outside linebacker may be on the Steelers wish list. While Ike Taylor has struggled this year, I still think he can be an effective corner. However, depth at corner is a must. I also hope that Willie Reed can stay healthy to be the answer as a kick and punt returner. Punter Chris Gardocki is probably done as well.

I’ll still watch the season’s final five games but my sports focus is now on the Penguins and Pitt basketball.


Archi said...

I could see the Steelers as a candidate to completely tank, particularly without Polamalu. I feel they could lack the "let's finish strong" drive that many downtrodden teams have.

The way the Titans are playing, I'd probably remove them from the "worse than the Steelers" group. They've won 4 of 6, and almost beat Baltimore in there too.

Sean said...

Dan, when I was writing this yesterday, the Titans were down 21-0 to the Giants and didn't look like they had any chance of winning. I probably would not include them in my list today.

Although I would much rather have Polamalu playing, the combination of Clark, Carter and rookie Anthony Smith should be OK.

With no analysis, here's how I think the Steelers will do the last five games:

Tampa Bay - Win
Cleveland - Win
@ Carolina - Loss
Baltimore - I really want to say win.
@ Cincinnati - Loss

If the Steelers win against Baltimore, that would give the Steelers a 7-9 record. I really can't see them losing more than 3 games to completely tank.