Jeremy Grey: John! Red Seven!
John Beckwith: I don't know what red seven means.
Jeremy Grey: Hot route!
John Beckwith: I don't...What is hot route?
This was a hilarious scene from the movie, Wedding Crashers. Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn doing their best to play a game of flag football.
This is not so funny when it reminds you of a professional football game. This could have been direct quotes from Ben Roethlisberger to any one of his wide receivers.
The Pittsburgh Steelers offense was manhandled by the Philadelphia Eagles defense on Sunday en route to a 15-6 victory. In fact, this was a game that was dominated by defense. A game that saw only one touchdown. A 20 yard swing pass from Donovan McNabb to Correll Buckhalter.
The most frustrating part of this game, for all of us Steelers fans, was that this was a close game. The score was 10-6 entering the fourth quarter. However the Steelers never really had a chance. They completely abandoned what makes them successful. They rushed the ball 15 times (not counting Ben's scrambles) for 27 yards. Rashard Mendenhall had 0 carries.
There was no reason to play "chuck and duck" in this game, and doing so played right into the Eagles hands. They pinned their ears back all day and destroyed Ben Roethlisberger by sacking him 9 times and hitting him countless other times. There is no reason to abandon a running game with that type of score. A running game needs to be a state of mind. You need to be relentless and never stop trying. Certainly not while the game is still within reach.
Looking at this it is easy to place blame on the offensive line. They were bad. They looked confused and overmatched. But this goes much deeper. This falls on Ben. This falls on the wide receivers. This falls on the running backs. Most of all, this falls on the coaching staff.
When a team goes all out and blitzes play after play, you basically have three choices. You need to screen, you need to run quick hitting pass plays (slants, quick outs, etc.) and you need to run draw plays. And the running back must be able to bust through the point of initial contact. Willie Parker is very good but that is not his forte. Where was Mendenhall? Where were the adjustments? Three step drops? They simply were not there. Hot routes? None.
The Steelers were outplayed but most of all, they were badly out coached on the offensive side of the ball. Dick LeBeau's defense rarely gets out coached. And they are fabulous at making adjustments, especially after halftime. Bruce Arians needs to take a page out of that book. Let's chalk this up to a learning experience for the young Mike Tomlin. He was schooled by Andy Reid and Jim Johnson.
Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get busy preparing for next week. Oh, and wipe the blood off of your noses.
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