The Steelers Must Rebound from a Subpar Performance
Now 6-3 (1-2 in the Division), the Steelers will have to rebound from a subpar performance.
It will be especially imperative they make the proper adjustments on special teams.
The Steelers finished 2008 with the AFC's No. 1 special teams in both kick and punt return defense.
As the NFL's best kickoff coverage unit in 2008, the Steelers gave up an average of 19.1 yards and no touchdowns.
This season, the Steelers are the fourth worst in kickoff coverage, yielding an average of 25.9 yards per return. Only the Raiders, with two, have permitted more than one kickoff return touchdown, and 23 of the league's 32 teams have allowed none.
The only time the Steelers allowed three touchdowns on kickoff returns in one season was in 1986 when they finished 6-10.
The Steelers have also allowed seven returns for touchdowns in the past seven games; three kickoffs, two interceptions and two punts.
So how do the Steelers overcome this problem?
Coach Mike Tomlin states "its detail. It's about shedding blocks and making tackles and being schematically sound.”
In addition, another disappointment is the performance of running back Stefan Logan on the return game.
Logan was given a roster spot from his performance during training camp and pre-season, but we Steeler fans have not seen that magic during the regular season.
It is true Logan has done a decent job in putting the offense in good field position. But he has not taken one to the house as was expected.
What is different now than when he performed during pre-season? Nine games into the regular season, there should be a comfort level into how he should approach the return game.
Do you get the feeling that Coach Tomlin maybe feeling the same disappointment? He did replace Logan with Wallace on a return, Sunday.
It’s not like the Steelers don’t have return guys who could get the same results as Logan i.e.; Mike Wallace, Joe Burnett (both who were accomplished on special teams in college) Mewelde Moore, or Santonio Holmes.
Next, Tomlin made a roster change by releasing LB Arnold Harrison to promote Donovan Woods from the practice squad.
Woods alongside Harrison was part of the heralded 2008 special teams unit.
Sunday, the Steelers will face the 2-7 Kansas City Chiefs.
The Chiefs won their second game, Sunday defeating the Oakland Raiders 16-10 at Arrowhead Stadium.
In the 33-10 loss, Cassel was sacked five times, intercepted twice and suffered three forced fumbles.
After eight games this season, Cassel’s QB rating is in a slow decline at 75.3 with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions. He is completing only 55.6 percent of his passes.
The Chiefs rank 26th in total offense and are in the bottom third defending the run and the pass.
The Chiefs produce an average 266.6 yards of offense per game; 166.6 yards passing, and 100 yards rushing.
Earlier this week, the Chiefs released running back Larry Johnson because of off-field issues.
Johnson has been replaced by Jammal Charles (5.4 yards/carry) who is also one of the teams’ leading receivers with 21 catches for 153 yards.
The Chiefs are thin at receiver, since their top receiver Dwayne Bowe (466 yards/receiving and four touchdowns) has been suspended due to taking a performance enhancing drug (diuretic).
The Chiefs defense ranks 23rd in the NFL allowing 375.6 yards of total defense including 141.3 yards rushing and 243.2 passing.
Let us not forget, Head Coach Todd Haley faced the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII last February as offensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals.
Although the Chiefs do not have the high powered offense the Cardinals possess, Haley probably has film to support what can be done to against the 3-4 Fire X Zone Blitz defense.
The Steelers have not lost to a team that finished with a losing record since 2007.
However, they also have a knack for playing down on their weaker opponents.
Coming off a disappointing performance against the Cincinnati Bengals, they should bounce back against what Coach Tomlin describes as “team in transition with a new front office and coaching staff.”
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