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Monday, 13 October 2014

Pittsburgh at Cleveland: 3 Things We Learned

The Cleveland Browns are no longer the laughing stock of the AFC North; that title belongs to the Pittsburgh Steelers, now. On Sunday afternoon, in a 31-10 beat-down of the Steelers, the Browns were the better team in every aspect of the game. Cleveland now sits at 3-2, and the Steelers are now 3-3 and in the basement of the AFC North.

Browns are a competitive football team

The Browns now have a positive record, and their two losses this season were by 3 and 2 points respectively. It isn’t insane to think that the Browns could compete for a playoff spot at end of the season in a rather weak conference. The Browns have a stout defense and a solid offense.

Outside of Antonio Brown, Steelers wide receivers are not producing

Antonio Brown is one of the very best wideouts in the game and has continually produced for the Steelers. However, it has been very bleak for the rest of the Steelers wide receivers. Free agent-signing Lance Moore has done very little. Against Cleveland, Moore dropped two passes; he did catch a touchdown, but that wasn’t until very late in the game when it was far out of reach for Pittsburgh.

Steelers No.2 wideout Markus Wheaton has yet to develop good chemistry with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. There were a number of plays in which Roethlisberger saw his pass fall incomplete due to an apparent miscommunication between Wheaton and him; it’s unapparent who is to blame on these mishaps. But it is more likely that the second-year receiver would be at fault.

Steelers are atrocious in all phases of the game

The Steelers are horrible on offense, defense and special teams. During the entire game, Roethlisberger had obvious communication errors with all of his receivers but Antonio Brown. Many of his passes fell to the ground, and you could see a look of utter disgust on Roethlisberger’s face, which would usually be followed up with a confused look from a receiver. The Steelers could not execute on offense; very little blame should be put on the coaches for this one. The offense did not score a touchdown until there was under three minutes left in the game when the Browns were up by 4 touchdowns.

The offense is the Steelers’ only hope; it is the side of the ball that actually has viable talent. If the offense can find a way to play consistently, the Steelers can become a competitive team.

Communication breakdowns were not an offense-isolated issue. The Steelers had a myriad of blown coverages. The entire Steelers secondary played pitifully. Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer only completed 8 passes in the entirety of the game, but he amassed 217 passing yards.

Seemingly, the Steelers did not want to cover the Browns star tight end Jordan Cameron. On one play, Pittsburgh left Cameron wide open, resulting in a 42-yard reception, setting the Browns up deep in Steelers territory. Furthermore, Cameron caught a 51-yard touchdown pass. He finished the day with 3 catches, 103 receiving yards and 1 score.

The Browns did damage in the run game too. They racked up 158 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground.

Per usual, the Pittsburgh special teams was laughably awful, today. At this point, it’s certain that punter Brad Wing is a lost cause. Throughout this season, Wing has consistently given opposing teams good field opposition due to his awfully short punts. Also today, Wing mishandled a snap on a field goal attempt, costing Pittsburgh 3 points.

Moreover, for some strange reason, Steelers kick returners – mainly Dri Archer – continue to return balls that sail deep in the endzone, which gives the Steelers offense bad field position. Special teams coach Danny Smith deserves a good chunk of the blame for this.


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