Coach Haley, this is not a call for your job, this is to let you know that the job you did today is not worthy of the position you hold. For the first three quarters in Baltimore, the Steelers, a supposed favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, looked more like a team in competition for a top five draft pick. Yes, Baltimore is still tough on defense, but with all of the weapons that you possess on offense, how is it that you refuse to use them until the team is down 21-0. It was clear that the Ravens sold out to stop LeVeon Bell, which they convincingly did, so why wait until the fourth quarter to start airing it out? The frustrating part is that once you finally opened things up, the offense quickly scored 14 points.
The difference in the game ended up being the punt that Baltimore blocked, that Chris Moore returned for a touchdown to give Baltimore a 21-0 lead. It was on the 10th of the offense’s first eleven drives that ended in punt formation. The drive that didn’t end up with Jordan Berry on the field, was the tipped Ben Roethlisberger pass that got intercepted. The way that drive was going, Berry would have probably finished it off with a punt as well. Perhaps if the both of you weren’t living within your fears by going in with that game plan, that blocked punt might never have occurred. There have been some horrible offensive performances over the last 40 years, but that performance over the first three quarters of today’s game just might be the worst of them all.
Now it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that you and Coach Tomlin will bring up pre-snap penalties and a lack of execution, when asked about the game plan, but the truth is, eliminating those penalties and dropped balls wouldn’t have made much of a difference. When you don’t get your initial first down or cross midfield until the fourth quarter, and your longest play to that point went for 11 yards on 3rd and 18, it’s the game plan. Coach Haley, with all the “bullets you have in your gun”, why were you afraid to fire it? You had to know that the priority in a game like this would be to help Ben get into a rhythm early with quick slants and screens, especially with Baltimore jamming eight defenders in the box. Instead, we don’t see anything that resembles the explosive offense we’ve all become accustomed to, until about the last nine minutes of the game.
There really is no good reason to see an offense with so many weapons on the field, be put into a position to look so lethargic. Even against a defense like Baltimore’s, which is good but not great. You have more than enough firepower on offense to beat it. Coach Haley, two things have become common with the Steelers over the last several years and will keep you from bringing that 7th Lombardi Trophy home, playing down to the competion and taking the foot off the gas offensively against defenses that should be lit up. There is no doubt that everyone on the coaching staff and the roster despises losing, but understand that there isn’t much that is more painful for die hards than watching the Steelers lose in the fashion they did today.
With 8 games left in a schedule that certainly looks favorable, there is no good reason to play that conservative on offense again. Let them play, turn your weapons loose, because there isn’t a defense left who can shut them down if you do. Today’s performance brought back horrible memories of the Mark Malone era, memories that should never have to be relived by anyone. If there is a silver lining to take from this loss, it’s that the Steelers went down fighting, even though the game truly wasn’t as close as the score indicated. The shame of it all is that the Steelers are the better team, and instead of wiping the field with the Ravens defense, and taking control of the AFC North, the Steelers leave Baltimore in second place.
This loss is on the coaching staff, despite the penalties and early dropped balls, because the offense was able to do in seven minutes of the fourth quarter what they couldn’t over the first three, outscore the Baltimore offense. Coach Haley, Imagine how many points your offense could have put on the board if you had taken the handcuffs off the offense much earlier, or if you hadn’t handcuffed them at all.