View Full Version : Harris: Steelers' offense needs to pull weight

09-26-2009, 12:11 AM
Harris: Steelers' offense needs to pull weight
By John Harris
Saturday, September 26, 2009

Since 2000, the Steelers have never been ranked lower than No. 9 in total defense. They've been ranked No. 1 four times, including each of the past two seasons.

During that span, the Steelers' offense has been ranked in the top 10 on three occasions, including a high of No. 3 in 2001. In each of the past two seasons, the Steelers have been ranked No. 22 and No. 17, respectively, in total offense.

Forget about winning Super Bowl XLIII. If the Steelers' defense had been ranked No. 22 like their offense was last season, they wouldn't have gone to the playoffs.

But the NFL is all about what have you done lately. And what this year's defense did was allow the Chicago Bears to score two touchdowns and a field goal in a 17-14 loss.

The Steelers rank No. 9 in total defense entering Sunday's game at Cincinnati, which is still better than their No. 16 ranking in total offense. So how come strong safety Tyrone Carter has been Public Enemy No. 1 all week?

Carter, who replaced the injured Troy Polamalu, took one for the team when he said it was his fault the Bears scored the tying touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Who's going to take the blame for the offense's shortcomings?

A total of three touchdowns and two field goals through the first two games is unacceptable.

Can you imagine where the 1-1 Steelers would be right now if their defense was ranked No. 16? For all of the criticism leveled at the defense, Chicago managed 275 total yards (only 43 rushing).

"(Chicago) scored 17 points no reason to panic,'' free safety Ryan Clark said. "We're not going to be perfect every week. We're not going to shut every team out.''

So, the Steelers defense has been less than perfect. So what? Only five teams have allowed fewer points than the Steelers this season. And that's without having Polamalu for six quarters.

The problem isn't the Steelers missing Polamalu. It's their offense being the missing link.

Only three teams have scored fewer points than the Steelers (Cleveland, St. Louis and Washington).

Something has to give. The defense can't keep this up forever, not with five starters on that side of the ball being 30 and older.

"The thing you don't see when you watch our games is guys running down the sideline, people catching touchdowns for 80 yards, 70 yards,'' Clark said. "You don't see (Tennessee running back) Chris Johnson not being covered. We do those little things that make it hard for teams to score. If a team throws 15 screen passes, or if a guy has to complete 27 balls to score 17 points (Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler's numbers against the Steelers), I can live with that.

"If our offense gets up enough to where teams have to come out of that mold, that will help us.''

If the Steelers' defense is unable to equal the performance of last year's top-ranked unit a monumental task the offense has to pick up the slack.

"We need to try and score on every possession,'' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "We need big plays, little plays. We drive the ball up and down the field, and we just can't score. We've got to find a way to be an offense that teams fear.''

The Steelers rank No. 7 in passing. Roethlisberger is sixth in the NFL with 584 passing yards, and Santonio Holmes is tied for second in the league in receiving yards (214) and tied for third in receptions (14). However, it's doubtful that opponents fear the Steelers' No. 28-ranked rushing offense.

Throughout the decade, the Steelers' defense has been the backbone of the team. When the Steelers won Super Bowls XL and XLIII, the defense ranked No. 5 and No. 1, respectively, while the offense ranked No. 15 and No. 22 in those years.

For the Steelers to reach their full potential this season, their offense must start playing more like the defense.

John Harris can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.

The Lakelander
09-26-2009, 12:14 AM
Patience .... it's coming!

09-26-2009, 04:17 AM
Who's going to take the blame for the offense's shortcomings?

Tick .....Tock.......Tick ......Tock..... Tick .....Tock How long before this time bomb goes off?

OK I will take one for the team. It was my fault. I passed on Eben Britton in our consensus mock draft and let our front office pick Ziggy instead.

Is everyone happy now.