Coming off the biggest win of the season it may not seem like a time to criticize the team……..but it is. In what has to be one of the most curious decisions in recent memory, the Steelers elected to start a player who they signed on Tuesday to replace the injured Ryan Shazier. This from a coaching staff who constantly reminds us how important practice is. Mike Tomlin’s famous quote about players who’ve missed significant practice time are “not on the moving train” comes to mind. Moving train? Sean Spence hasn’t even been at the train station, let alone not being on the train. Granted, Spence is a former Steelers player who at least has a basic grasp of the defense. The result was not unexpectedly a disaster for Spence, and the Steelers defense as a whole. Baltimore running back Alex Collins ran wild for 120 yards averaging nearly seven yards a carry. The defense gave up 38 points to a bad Ravens offense, and nearly cost them the game.
The Steelers inside linebacker situation was made worse by Tyler Matakevich also being out of the Ravens game. Pittsburgh was understandably short-handed at the position, and a move needed to be made. The question that has to be asked is what is wrong with backup linebacker LJ Fort? Is he so bad that there was a better option off the street? So bad that they moved outside linebacker ArthurMoats to the inside to play the position? Let’s keep in mind Sean Spence couldn’t even find playing time for the lowly Indianpolis Colts. There is a good reason why he wasn’t on an NFL roster when the Steelers came calling. If Fort isn’t good enough to beat out Spence, or even a player at another position why is he on the team in the first place?
It’s decisions like this that really make you wonder what is going on with this defense on a coaching level. It’s bad enough that this secondary seems to be in disarray on a weekly basis, now the loss of one player has thrown the linebacker position spiraling as well. The Pittsburgh defense has been giving up big plays in the passing game for several weeks. Now we can add gashing runs to their defensive woes. If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time you’ll know I’m no Keith Butler fan. His defenses seem unprepared and confused the majority of the time. This seemed to be the season where overwhelming talent would overcome his shortcomings as a coach. Unfortunately injuries to a players like Ryan Shazier and Joe Haden have brought them back to earth. Whether it’s the insistence of playing an overmatched Coty Sensabaugh or a finished Sean Spence, Keith Butler is proving his decision-making is lackind to say the least. Once again this team will enter the play-offs with the defense as their Achilles Heel. The bungling of the inside linebacker situation is just more evidence for what we already know. This team needs a change at the top of the defense, but it won’t happen soon enough though.