Steelers Report Card/Week 2: Champs Must Face Bear Facts

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Steelers Report Card/Week 2: Champs Must Face Bear Facts
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Here’s my take on the Steelers’ 17-14 defeat on Sunday afternoon:

1. There are good losses and no-so-good losses. And then there is the kind that the Steelers had against a very beatable Chicago Bears team.

Except for the absence of safety Troy Polamalu—and granted, that was a large exception—the Steelers had everything in their favor here. They had nine days to prepare for the game, while the Bears had played the previous Sunday night.

The Bears were without linebacker Brian Urlacher, arguably their best defensive player. Their secondary and offensive line were train wrecks. And quarterback Jay Cutler had come off perhaps the worst performance of his career.

When you’re the defending Super Bowl champions, this kind of thing shouldn’t happen.

2. What should concern head coach Mike Tomlin more than anything is the lack of a killer instinct. The visitors had the Bears down for the count in the first period, which they absolutely dominated, but . . .

Here, I'll let former Arizona Cardinals boss Dennis Green ‘splain it: We let 'em off the hook!

If was almost as though the Steelers said, “Hey, don’t you know that you’re supposed to roll over? We’re the world champs, remember?”

See, that’s precisely why opponents won’t play dead against them. The sooner that the Steelers realize it, the better they will be for it.

3. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why Bruce Arians didn’t pack the no-huddle offense for the trip. If the offensive coordinator had watched film of the Bears' game against the Buffalo Bills in the preseason, then he would have known that Chicago had no answer for it.

Meanwhile, the Steelers' offense has totaled three measly touchdowns in eight-plus periods this season. Dude, shouldn’t an offense that has Santonio Holmes, Heath Miller, Mewelde Moore, Willie Parker, Ben Roethlisberger, and Hines Ward be better than that?

4. Hey, at least we know how important wide receiver Limas Sweed is to the offense.

OK, maybe not.

5. As long as Polamalu is out of the line-up, Tyrone Carter might as well wear a different colored jersey and be done with it. The Bears targeted the back-up safety throughout the game, although I was surprised they didn’t throw deep more often against an ordinary pass rush.

Far worse, Carter refused to leave the field after he sustained a thigh injury in the fourth quarter. Moments later, rookie Johnny Knox smoked him on a quick slant for six points. That’s a horrible match-up when the guy is healthy, for crysakes.

6. Placekicker Jeff Reed comes off as a tough guy, as any towel dispenser will tell you, but I wonder how his soon-to-be-free-agent status will impact his performance this season.

In the fourth quarter, Reed gagged on two makeable field goals with the game on the line. One week earlier, he tied the score with a line drive that could have been blocked easily. He was no bargain in the preseason, either.

Now connect the dots.

7. If Holmes wants to be known as an elite receiver in the league—and he has the physical tools to be all of that—then he can’t drop passes regardless of the weather conditions.

When a potential six points slipped through his wide-open arms late in the game, a voice inside my head screamed, “That’s not how you be great!”

8. Parker actually had some daylight on occasion, but he still didn’t look right to me. He doesn’t have his burst of old and runs a bit limp-legged at times.

Whether it’s a hamstring problem or something worse than that, neither he nor the Steelers are sayin’, but it needs to be fixed and fixed soon. Otherwise, give the ball to Rashard Mendenhall and find out if he’s a keeper or not.

9. Here’s the good news: The offense may have found a run play that it can depend on for a change. With left guard Chris Komoeatu as the lead blocker, it picked up consistent yardage on traps at the right side, where tackle Willie Colon and guard Trai Essex sealed the hole effectively.

10. If punter Daniel Sepulveda ever needs an agent, then I’m available.

 

The Grades:

 

Offense regulars

 

WR Hines Ward: B

          Weekly grades: B/B

          Season average: B

 

LT Max Starks: F

          Weekly grades: B/F

          Season average: D+/C-

 

LG Chris Komoeatu: C

          Weekly grades: D/C

          Season average: D+/C-

 

C Justin Hartwig: C

          Weekly grades: F/C

          Season average: D

 

RG Trai Essex: B

          Weekly grades: C/B

          Season average: C+/B-

 

RT Willie Colon: B

          Weekly grades: D/B

          Season average: C

 

TE Heath Miller: B

          Weekly grades: A/B

          Season average: B+/A-

 

WR Santonio Holmes: D

          Weekly grades: A/D

          Season average:  C+/B-

 

QB Ben Roethlisberger: B

          Weekly grades: A/B

          Season average: B+/A-

 

RB Willie Parker: B

          Weekly grades: D/B

          Season average: C

 

RB Mewelde Moore: B

          Weekly grades: C/B

          Season average: C+/B-

 

Defense regulars

 

LE Aaron Smith: B

          Weekly grades: A/B

          Season average: B+/A-

 

NT Casey Hampton: B

          Weekly grades: B/B

          Season average: B

 

RE Brett Keisel: B

Weekly grades: A/B

          Season average: B+/A-

 

LOLB Lamarr Woodley: C

          Weekly grades: D/C

          Season average: D+/C-

 

LILB James Farrior: A

          Weekly grades: B/A

Season average: B+/A-

 

RILB Keyaron Fox: B

          Weekly grades: B/B

          Season average: B

 

RILB Lawrence Timmons: B

          Weekly grades: DNP/B

          Season average: B

 

ROLB James Harrison: B

          Weekly grades: A/B

          Season average: B+/A-

 

LCB William Gay: C

          Weekly grades: C/C

          Season average: C

 

RCB Ike Taylor: B

          Weekly grades: C/B

          Season average: C+/B-

 

SS Tyrone Carter: D

          Weekly grades: C/D

          Season average: D+/C-

 

SS Troy Polamalu: DNP

          Weekly grades: A/DNP/

          Season average: A

 

FS Ryan Clark: B

          Weekly grades: B/B

Season average: B

 

Special teams regulars

 

PK Jeff Reed: F

          Weekly grades: B/F

          Season average: D+/C-

 

P Daniel Sepulveda: A

          Weekly grades: A/A

          Season average: A

 

KR Stefan Logan: D

          Weekly grades: B/D

          Season average: C

 

PR Stefan Logan: C

          Weekly grades: C/C

          Season average: C

 

Coaches

 

HC Mike Tomlin: C

          Weekly grades: B/C

          Season average: C+/B-

 

OC Bruce Arians: D

          Weekly grades: C/D

          Season average: D+/C-

 

DC Dick LeBeau: B

          Weekly grades: A/B

          Season average: B+/A-

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