The Pittsburgh Steelers are looking to remain undefeated after beginning the season with an 8-0 record for the first time in the organization’s history. They just need to do a few key things to help their game.
Capitalizing on Offense and Third-Down Defense
While quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has an array of offensive weapons, the Pittsburgh offense has still struggled to capitalize on their talent.
Luckily, Roethlisberger was able to make a full recovery after his 2019 season-ending elbow injury. The quarterback is arguably looking better than he has in recent years.
Despite this, there have been several missed opportunities for the Steelers offense in 2020.
Many of the issues could stem from the fact that Pittsburgh’s receiving core is full of young players. James Washington and Diontae Johnson are both 24 years old, with JuJu Smith-Schuster and Ray-Ray McCloud being 23 years old. Rookie Chase Claypool rounds out the receivers at just 22 years old.
Pittsburgh’s run game has also been stunted over the past few weeks.
Running back James Conner only averaged 2.4 yards per run in the Steelers’ matchup against the Cowboys. As a result, the offense could not manage to get many third or fourth down conversions when relying on the run game.
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) November 9, 2020
While the Steelers defense has not been allowing many big plays, the squad has been having a hard time stopping third-down conversions from opposing offenses.
This problem seems to come from the defense struggling to stop the run in recent games. Pittsburgh’s defense gave up 265 rushing yards to the Baltimore Ravens in Week 8 and 144 rushing yards to a Cowboys offense that has had its fair share of problems this season.
“We just have to make those plays, and sometimes the process of learning is not an alteration of what it is we do in preparation, or even the level of attention to detail in terms of our play,” head coach Mike Tomlin said in a press conference. “It’s just an acknowledgment that in those weighty moments you have to make those tackles, you have to make the catch, you have to make the significant block.”
Staying Healthy and Focused
Pittsburgh has partially remain undefeated because the injury bug has not hit them like it has most NFL teams this season.
Currently, the most notable player the Steelers are without is linebacker Devin Bush. He will be out for the entire season with an ACL tear.
The offense has remained relatively healthy, aside from losing right tackle Zach Banner to a torn ACL in the first game of the season.
After a rough win over the Cowboys on Sunday, Tomlin acknowledged that the team has to focus and stick together in order to remain undefeated.
“I’m really proud of our football team, 8-0 for the first time in franchise history,” Tomlin said. “We’re humbled and honored to be that group. It’s not without its trials today, obviously. Some of it was created by us. … We’ve got a group that sticks together and a group that’s mentally tough and is able to persevere. I’m thankful for that.”
However, Tomlin knows that mistakes like the ones made on Sunday could cost them in the future.
“Obviously we can’t keep having these conversations every week, because one of these weeks, we’re going to be doing it with an L if we’re not careful,” Tomlin explained.
Pittsburgh hopes to remain undefeated as they host another division rival in Week 10. Pittsburgh will kick off against the Cincinnati Bengals at 4:25 p.m. on Nov. 15.
Featured Image Courtesy of Behind the Steel Curtain.
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