Good luck on Sunday, Ben. You will need it.
Do not laugh. There is a scenario where the anemic Pittsburgh Steelers offense finds a way to out-duel the vaunted Chicago Bears defense.
After watching the first two weeks of action, the Steelers might have the third-worst offense in football (thank God for Jacksonville and Cleveland). Heck, Geno Smith is making the New York Jets’ offense look more competitive than Pittsburgh’s.
Ben Roethsliberger has regressed back to the days when he held the ball too long, which is ironic because the offensive line rarely gives him much time to work with anymore. Of course, he is not getting much help out there without Heath Miller, a true big-play threat at receiver or a functional running game.
Ever since Maurkice Pouncey went down with a knee injury on the first drive of Week 1, the line has been disastrous. Big Ben has been sacked seven times in two games and has been hit or pressured so many times I am surprised he can still stand.
Now that we have established how pathetic Pittsburgh’s offense is, here is what it will have to do to defeat Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman and the Bears defense.
First and foremost, that offensive line needs to play with a massive chip on its shoulder. It needs to assume that every hit Big Ben takes could potentially end his NFL career.
Kelvin Beachum is listed as Pittsburgh’s starting center on Steelers.com. He will line up against Stephen Paea, who has nine total tackles and 0.5 sacks so far. Beachum has looked shaky so far, but he should be able to hand him.
The rest of the line needs to make Julius Peppers and his fellow pass-rushers invisible, which has clearly not been easy for them thus far. If Pittsburgh is smart, it will put in David Johnson or Will Johnson on occasion for the sole purpose of helping Mike Adams protect Big Ben’s blind side.
With a stable line, Big Ben can have time to do his thing. Even when the line does break down, he can still create with his ridiculous ability to extend plays. But at least now he can feel secure and will no longer be rushed, which should increase his accuracy.
Antonio Brown and Todd Haley need to calm down. Brown is possibly the league’s worst No. 1 receiver and Haley might be the NFL’s most frustrating offensive coordinator. They can bond over their stubbornness.
Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery are going to have a tough time battling Tillman and Tim Jennings, who already have three interceptions between them (one for a touchdown).
The difference here will be if Miller suits up or not. Coach Mike Tomlin may not be expecting Miller to “step out of a phone booth with a cape on,” as he put it, via Scott Brown of ESPN, but that is what the Steelers will need from him.
Miller was the guy last year who led the team with 71 receptions, tied with Mike Wallace for the most touchdowns with eight and finished just behind Wallace with 816 receiving yards on the season. His presence would make Big Ben’s life so much easier.
So assuming the offensive line comes together, the receivers stop acting like divas and Miller is on the field and back to form, that leaves one offensive component to worry about: the running game.
With LaRod Stephens-Howling out for the season with an ACL tear, Pittsburgh’s backfield currently consists of the terrifying trio of Felix Jones, Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer.
Of those three, Isaac Redman should be cut out completely. He has been given two chances at earning the starting job, and he has rewarded the Steelers by rushing for eight yards on seven carries with one fumble in Week 1 and four yards on three carries in Week 2. Bye Redman.
Jones actually had a decent outing last week, going for 37 yards on 10 rushes. For a Pittsburgh Steelers running back this season, that is about all you can expect.
If Jones can put up, say, 50 yards, and if Dwyer can chip in 20 to 30, then there is a small chance the Steelers keep the Bears defense on its toes just enough to at least look like a real offense for a game.
If you have not noticed, these scenarios read like desperate Steelers fan fiction because there is very little chance Pittsburgh will be able to improve its offense that drastically in a week.
In an ideal world, the Steelers would enter next week with Michael Turner as their starting running back, a healthy Pouncey at center and Devery Henderson (a veteran with speed) opposite Brown. A fan can dream, right?
As it stands, there is always room to hope that Pittsburgh can at least stay competitive. Hope is a powerful tool, and it is all Steelers fans are clinging to right now until the team gives them a reason to believe again.