Anytime a team starts out 1-2, people are going to start looking around for someone to blame. Often, that heat is aimed towards the coach.
In the Pittsburgh Steelers' case, everyone should keep looking.
No coach is above reproach, but Mike Tomlin gets a pass for the first three weeks for the following reasons.
The Steelers Haven't Had Two of Their Best Players
Coaches have to downplay injuries. The media and the fans are not going to let them use such a convenient scapegoat when missing players is something every team must endure.
However, being without the services of two former Defensive Player of the Year winners is an entirely different animal. James Harrison has yet to make his 2012 debut, and while Troy Polamalu did play against the Denver Broncos, he strained his calf at some point. That's more than most teams could overcome.
Polamalu's absence has made it especially difficult for Pittsburgh to handle the hurry-up offense. Otherwise, I imagine Carson Palmer would have met a little more resistance in Week 3.
If the Steelers continue to lose once these two return, we can revisit this part of the argument.
Peyton Manning is Still One of the Best at the Two-Minute Drill
The Steelers defense was shutting down one of the all-time greats in his return to the field until the Denver Broncos turned to the no-huddle offense. Once Manning got back inside his comfort zone, he started firing the ball like it was 2007.
It's difficult for the best defense in the league to slow Manning down as the Houston Texans demonstrated. A beat-up unit without one starting safety (Ryan Clark can't play in Denver because of sickle cell) while the other is hobbled has little to no chance.
Tomlin isn't the General Manager
Does anybody remember the last time Pittsburgh had a decent offensive line? To say the least, it's been a few years.
The Steelers thought they addressed the problem by drafting David DeCastro and Mike Adams. They weren't completely wrong, just partially.
Adams has struggled, hence his slide to the second round. That one rests squarely on the shoulders of general manager Kevin Colbert.
DeCastro showed promise but was placed on the injured reserve list earlier in the month. He left a rather large hole in the line that is difficult to address once the season is underway.
Pittsburgh could have brought in more depth along the line. However, you can't blame Tomlin for the lack of lineman or for the other two reasons.
Besides, it's only Week 4.
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