The Pittsburgh Steelers head into Week 4 with a daunting challenge. First, they have to find a way to get on the winning track after starting the season 0-3.
But they also have to do it while traveling across the Atlantic Ocean to play in London, England. Granted, it is against the winless Minnesota Vikings, but the trip itself still poses problems.
The Steelers put on an offensive and defensive performance on Sunday night worthy of a victory. However, four turnovers, two of which were returned for touchdowns, snuffed out hope of a win.
Let's take a look ahead at Week 4.
All statistics provided are courtesy of NFL.com.
Those are some seriously ugly records. The Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals really seem to be hitting their stride, and time is running out for the Steelers to stay relevant in the AFC North.
If the Steelers can't right the ship against the Vikings, and the Ravens and Bengals win again this weekend, it might be time to start thinking about the future of the players on this roster and how they will fit in 2014.
The Steelers are definitely on the mend. For Sunday night's game, running back Le'Veon Bell and cornerback Cortez Allen were the only players who did not play from the Steelers' injury report.
The Steelers won't put out anything official until later in the week, but if they are able to get Bell and/or Allen back for this week's game, it would significantly improve their chances.
The Steelers secondary has played very well while Allen has been out, but a healthy Bell would add a dimension to the run game this team has been missing for more than a year.
What Must Improve
There is nothing more obvious this week than the issue of the turnovers. The Steelers still have not forced a turnover in 2013, and on Sunday night they gave up the football four times.
What is the fix for both? It is a complex question that starts with some very basic concepts.
First is ball security. On both of Ben Roethlisberger's fumbles he was under duress but failed to secure the football. The desire to make a play is noble, but his decision-making was poor. Football 101 tells you to secure the football, especially when working through traffic.
Roethlisberger displays confidence bordering on hubris when it comes to making plays. His teammates showed on Sunday that they can make plays when they have the football, so he would be served to trust in those skill players and take some of the pressure off himself.
As far as forcing turnovers, that is a different matter. Playing with the mindset that turnovers is the goal has to be coached up and schemed.
There is a trade-off for going after the turnover. At times it comes at the expense of the fundamentals, including sound tackling. This means the team must swarm to the football and gang tackle. First man to the football wraps him up and everyone else comes in to strip the football.
Same goes for interceptions. The Steelers need to take some chances in coverage, which also means with their pressures as well.
Many of the Steelers' previous turnovers are interceptions that come off of zone blitzes where the opposing quarterback is forced into a quick throw. This season, the Steelers have done very little in terms of exotic pressures or masked coverage.
Pittsburgh showed last Sunday it can move the football. It's time for the defense to step up and make a big play instead of just the steady play.
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