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Professor Dave’s Steeler Report Card

QUARTERBACK D

Ben Roethlisberger continues to struggle thus far this season.  While 22/39 for 235 with one TD and not interceptions looks average, his performance on Sunday was well bellow average.  Ben is focusing too much on Antonio Brown, leaving other options wide open at times while he forces the ball to his favorite receiver.  That is also causing him to take unneccessary sacks as he waits for AB to break free.  When  he does look to other receivers, his passes too often are inaccurate and go incomplete.  Roethlisberger must greatly improve his play or else this team will not be making the playoffs in 2017.

RUNNINGBACK – C

We still have not seen the vintage Le’veon Bell this season, but you get the feeling it’s coming.  Missing training camp has caused a very slow start for the superstar running back.  Bell did show glimpse though that he may be rounding into form.  They will badly need him next week against the Ravens.

WIDE RECEIVER – C

The only thing keeping this from a lower grade is the continued greatness of Antonio Brown.  He seems to be the only one capable of hauling in some of Roethlisberger’s bad throws.  Martavis Bryant let a sure touchdown slip through his fingers in the game’s opening play.  Who knows how the game would’ve turned out had he caught that pass.  No other receiver managed anything of note, in fact Eli Rogers went without a catch or even a target.

TIGHT END – D

Jesse James got dinged early on, and was a non-factor for the rest of the game.  The biggest play by a tight end was the special teams tackle by Vance McDonald that saved a touchdown at the end of the first half.

OFFENSIVE LINE – C+

The offensive line played short-handed most of the game on Sunday.  Marcus Gilbert did not start, and Ramon Foster left the game injured.  Considering most teams would struggle mightily with two starters out, this line played pretty well overall.  Hubbard did however struggle in pass protection at times, leading to some badly timed sacks.

DEFENSIVE LINE – C

I know what you’re thinking, how does a line that gave up over 200 yards rushing not get an F for the day?  Well the defensive line largely did it’s part on the day, while other levels of the defense failed miserably.  That is not to say they were completely without blame however.  There is plenty of that to go around on this defense.

LINEBACKERS – D

This was the worst performance for this group in some time, particularly the inside linebackers.  Ryan Shazier has rendered himself almost useless unless he’s making splash plays in the backfield or creating turnovers.  Too often he over runs plays and completely takes himself out of the action, thereby hurting the defense.  That, and his poor tackling, make such a talented player a liability at times.  The only real reason why Vince Williams is on the field is to help stop the run.  When he plays like he did on Sunday, he also becomes a real liability.  The outside linebackers didn’t get much chance to rush the passer because the Bears were having so much succsess on the ground.  They played average at best.

SECONDARY – F

At this point every team in the league knows Artie Burns is atrocious against the run and they will continue to exploit it.  There are times when he appears to have no idea what his responsibilities are in the run defense.  Joe Haden was only slightly better, but maybe he can be excused because of his unfamiliarity to the defense.  Playing a 3/4 defense requires that the corners tackle well against the run.  Well they don’t, and it shows.  The safeties weren’t any better, especially Sean Davis who seems to have taken a step backward in his second season.

SPECIAL TEAMS – F

When you have a field goal blocked, and a fumbled punt turnover you get an F, end of story.

COACHING – F

Once again the narrative of a Steelers not prepared to play against a bad team on the road came into fruition.  This has to somehow fall into Mike Tomlin’s lap.  Preparation and game plan are squarely on the head coach, and in both cases the team failed miserably.  Speaking of game plan, what exactly was Keith Butler’s plan for the day?  He was facing a bad quarterback without his two top receivers on the day.  This team seemed utterly unaware of how to deal with the outside zone runs the Bears continually gouged them with.  To make matters worse, it appeared as though there were no adjustments made to counter what was happening.  From coaching on down this performance by the defense is baffling.  Todd Haley doesn’t get a pass either as he hasn’t gotten this offense in a groove all season.  His play calling has been uneven from the get go.  Mike Tomlin’s job to get this group of talent ready to play each week seems to get harder every year.  That old addage of hearing the same voice for years eventually gets tuned out may be in play here.  Tomlin certainly has his work cut out for him with this very talented, but very undisciplined group of players.

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