The Steelers are 1-3 and are lucky not to be 0-4.
The conversation around the team had been about the quarterback position. Average veteran Mitch Trubisky vs. Kenny Pickett, the Pitt guy that many want to be the next franchise quarterback following Ben Roethlisberger’s retirement and for some, righting the wrong of not drafting Dan Marino in 1983.
Through four games, Trubisky was average and Pickett, who made his second half debut against the Jets, was able to breathe life into an angry Acrisure Stadium crowd, showing signs of promise, but still looked like a rookie coming off the bench.
The Steelers offense has been underwhelming, and that was expected. The defense on the other hand, has disappointed.
In the opener at the Bengals, the defense generated points and made it easier for Trubisky and company to do so. When you force five turnovers, it normally leads to a victory. But after losing T.J. Watt, cracks started showing as the offense sputtered. The Bengals came back, tied the game with seconds to spare, as the Steelers avoided walking out of Paycor Stadium with a loss due to a backup long snapper and the Minkah Fitzpatrick block on the PAT that ensued. Another bad Cincinnati snap also gave the Steelers another chance after Boswell’s doink earlier, as he got a second chance and sent Pittsburgh to a wild win as time expired in overtime.
The most disappointing part of Pittsburgh’s defensive play against New England had to be the touchdown given up right before halftime. The second half saw only one touchdown surrendered, and an anemic offense that couldn’t make a comeback in a 17-14 loss.
On a short week, the Steelers defense had no answers for the Browns Nick Chubb in the 2nd half. Chubb finished with 117 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown that came as the offense compiled three-straight 3-and-outs. Add on Amari Cooper having a 100-yard receiving game, making the Steelers secondary look pedestrian.
But this past Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets was the worst performance, so far. Another Fitzpatrick INT set up Pickett for a QB sneak to put the Steelers ahead, with an 8-play, 82 yard touchdown drive to go up 20-10.
This is where the defense failed. Nobody thought the Jets could overcome a 10-point deficit. But Zach Wilson and the New York offense responded with an 11-play, 81 yard drive for a touchdown to get within three. And while Pickett’s INT contributed to the eventual game-winning drive for the Jets, the Steelers defense had no answers.
Most knew the Steelers offense was a big question mark entering the 2022 season. So far, it’s been a low-scoring unit, but had what was considered a good defense to bail them out. Without T.J. Watt, who will be back in a few weeks, the Steelers defense looks lost.
Offensive coordinator Matt Canada is the one Steelers fans target when airing their grievances about the current team. Teryl Austin is in his first season as defensive coordinator, and that’s a big role to fill. But right now, his unit is not living up to that “Steel Curtain” reputation, and appears to be getting worse with each passing week.
If things don’t change, the Steelers will be 1-7, 2-6 if they’re lucky, when the Bye Week hits. Fans can only hope T.J. Watt’s return helps turn things around on that side of the ball.