Steelers Need To Stick To Original Formula
Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial
|Sunday, October 28, 2007
By Tom Van Wyhe
Steelers Fever Columnist
The Steelers are good, that much we know. There’s an abundance of talent and coaching has been great for the most part. The question is, why does the team stumble through games that should otherwise be won?
Arizona and Denver are both good teams, but both have been incredibly inconsistent this season. Watching the Broncos game Sunday night, Jay Cutler looked a little too comfortable, Big Ben was flushed from the pocket on a regular basis, and Willie Parker couldn’t pick up 100 yards on the ground.
How can Pittsburgh look so dominant at times, shutting down offenses and keeping scores in the single-digit range, and so non-dominant at others? It’s a problem that’s going to haunt the team this season unless Mike Tomlin can keep the franchise playing consistently.
Look, the Steelers are pretty much a lock for the playoffs right now. No doubt about it. Unfortunately, it’s also a safe bet the team won’t get a first round bye. That’s definitely a problem if, in the second round, Pittsburgh has to go up against foes like New England and Indianapolis who have looked invincible this season. They haven’t stumbled through wins and both sit with perfect records, records that just might be without blemish when they go up against each other in a week.
What can Pittsburgh learn from those teams?
“Do what you do.”
This is about the simplest advice there is, yet you can see teams making this mistake every season. They hit a rough patch and think it’s something they’re doing. Instead of sticking with the formula, the coaching staff goes against what they’ve taught since training camp and they shake things up. Players don’t always react well to change, especially in the middle of a season.
They’re words Tony Dungy lives by and you can bet Bill Belichick has similar feelings (though he has changed his offense’s way of producing since acquiring three new wide receivers this off season). The point is, stick with the formula. After all, it’s gotten the team this far.
Chances are, the reason for any given fallout is mental mistakes. That can be fixed by coaching. Changing the game plan, however and getting away from what is done best is the biggest mistake a coach can make.
Look at the Steelers in both the team’s losses. More specifically, look at Ben Roethlisberger’s numbers in those games vs. his season averages: he threw over 30 passes in each of those games (32 and 35, actually). He also threw a pair of interceptions in each, though he did make up for things by averaging 3 touchdowns.
But do you know his averages in the team’s wins this season? Just fewer than 25 pass attempts and one interception in four games. His touchdown-per-game numbers didn’t drop much either; he still averages 2 per win.
Think the team should consider running the ball a little more often and stick with the formula?