Charles Robinson at Yahoo! Sports penned a nice piece about the Steelers offensive problems. It's sometimes valuable to read a piece like this by someone who probably doesn't watch every Steelers game and isn't as biased as a Steelers fan or Pittsburgh-based sports writer. It's also easy to forget that we have a team that is 6-3. The sky is not falling. At least not until we drop another game at home to San Diego...
When Bruce Arians woke up Wednesday morning, the zealotry of Pittsburgh Steelers nation was still pounding away like a ball-peen hammer on an iron rivet. It was inescapable – screaming from the radio, bundled between the pages of the local newspapers, etched across the dissatisfied faces of the faithful.
And while coaches loathe the basic excuse of injuries as a reason for ineffectiveness, Arians has some strong evidence backing up why the offense has sputtered this season. Consider:
• Pittsburgh has been making do with a third-string running back in Mewelde Moore, who has both average speed and size and had never carved out a consistent starting role in his previous four seasons in Minnesota. Meanwhile, Pro Bowler Willie Parker has been dealing with knee and shoulder injuries, playing in only one of the Steelers’ past six games. His backup, first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall, was lost for the season in Week 4.
• The offensive line has been undermanned and in turn lacked continuity since Week 4 of the season. Put aside the fact that Pittsburgh lost a quality guard in Alan Faneca in the offseason (and yes, that is important). Right guard Kendall Simmons, who had been a fixture on the line for the previous three seasons, was lost for the season against the Ravens. Pro Bowl left tackle Marvel Smith hasn’t played since Pittsburgh’s 4-1 start.
• Tight end Heath Miller hasn’t played in the past two games.
• And then you have Roethlisberger, who injured his right shoulder in the season opener against Houston, then reinjured it again in the win over Washington in Week 9. Meanwhile, he has missed an assortment of practices since the start of the season, which has in turn hurt his timing and decision-making at various points.
Even in the league’s “no excuse” era, that’s a staggering amount of circumstance: A hobbled quarterback, two missing running backs, three different offensive-line starters in comparison to 2007, and a dual-responsibility tight end sidelined, too. And yet, it’s Arians who is shouldering much of the blame after Sunday’s 24-20 loss to the Colts – a game ultimately scuttled by a pair of bad interceptions (three overall) by Roethlisberger.