The week six Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves at the crossroads of their season. They lack an identity on offense, and have a defense with troubles stopping the run. Furthermore, Ben Roethlisberger needs to regain his confidence while adjusting to a declining skill set. Meanwhile, as they work on the cure to what ails them, the Steelers are preparing for the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs have weapons to attack every wound the Steelers are bleeding from, and do it efficiently. Alex Smith, Kareem Hunt, and Tyreek Hill lead an explosive Chiefs offense. Justin Houston, Marcus Peters, and Derrick Johnson spearhead a talented and aggressive defense. The Steelers will have their hands full on both sides of the ball, but possess the talent to win. Week six Pittsburgh Steelers keys to victory looks at what they must accomplish to make that happen.
Week Six Pittsburgh Steelers Keys To Victory
The Pittsburgh Steelers have as talented an offense as there is, but they are functioning in a state of disarray. Unfortunately, it isn’t just a single issue, but rather a myriad of problems that are plaguing them. These problems include redzone inefficiency, mental mistakes, turnovers, and a lack of execution. If the Steelers expect to beat the Chiefs, they have a lot to clean up in a short amount of time. Todd Haley and the offensive line are the best places to start.
Todd Haley’s Play Calling Must Have Purpose
When offensive production fails to meet expectations and talent level, there are two main reasons, execution and play calling. Quite often it’s a lack of execution or play calling that holds an offense back. With the Steelers, they aren’t mutually exclusive. Haley’s job is to call plays that put his players in the best position to succeed, and must serve a purpose. Furthermore, each play called must must set up the next one. Haley’s has had disjointed game plans this season, leading to confusion and frustration between Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown.
Haley wants to stick it to his former team, so he needs to be on the same page as his quarterback. What he installs must line up with Roethlisberger’s strengths, which include running the no-huddle offense. Haley must commit to running the ball with Le’Veon Bell, his most versatile weapon, to open up the passing game. Martavis Bryant is the deep threat and should be used as such. Haley needs to remove the bubble screen to Bryant out of the game plan.
Haley’s game plan is akin to him writing a story about how to beat a tough Kansas City Chiefs defense. This Sunday, in one of the most hostile environments in the NFL, Haley needs to write a masterpiece. He needs to tell a story of aggression, execution and efficiency. If he spins the nursery rhymes he has up to this point, it’s going to be a long afternoon in Missouri.
Maurkice Pouncey Must Revive the Offensive Line
Unquestionably, Maurkice Pouncey is the leader of the offensive line. It’s no coincidence they are both having down years. As a result, Bell hasn’t had much running room, and Roethlisberger hasn’t found much comfort in the pocket. Pouncey and the line need to fire off the snap and initiate all contact. They need to own the trenches and work as one, rather than five individuals. Pouncey needs to set the tone, and can do that by dominating his man, nose tackle Bennie Logan. The rest of the line feeds off his energy, so it’s up to him to get them going.
Put Eli Rogers Back in the Lineup
Roethlisberger targeted Brown 19 times last week, not to passify him, but because he was mostly the only one open. Bryant has been used on more bubble screens than deep balls, and has only been open on occasion. JuJu Smith-Schuster is okay for a rookie, but Roethlisberger needs more help. He needs another target who can find some open space, and Eli Rogers is it. The week six Pittsburgh Steelers need Rogers on the field to give the offense a spark. They need the quickness he brings to open up the middle of the field. Most importantly, Roethlisberger needs a safety net underneath.
You make changes when you get carved up by two of the best running backs in the NFL. When your about to face a third quality running back, that change should be Deebo Time. When you have a big hammer, you need to swing it. The Steelers have no bigger hammer in run defense than James Harrison, and nobody sets the edge better than Deebo. The idea of saving Harrison for the postseason is one thing, but what good is it if they don’t make it? Tomlin may choose to go with the hot hand, but Harrison is a necessity. The defense can’t afford to let Hunt run amok like Jordan Howard and Leonard Fournette did. Keith Butler needs Harrison to keep Hunt in check. He’s fresh and ready to go, having played all of seven snaps this season, consequently, Harrison is ready to wreak havoc.
Ben Roethlisberger Must Bounce Back
Admittedly, Roethlisberger is coming off the worst game of his career. Week six Pittsburgh Steelers most important key to victory involves Roethlisberger bouncing back strong. He may not have the skills he once did, but Roethlisberger is still the key to the offense. He needs to move on from his frustrations and focus on the things he does well and play to his strengths, although Haley hasn’t schemed much to help him out. Roethlisberger is still one of the best in the business and usually proves it in games like this. He needs receivers other than Brown to step up this week and help him out.
This is shaping up to be a statement game for the Steelers, who need a win to maintain control of the AFC North. They need to forget about last week and focus all of their attention on the Kansas City Chiefs. The Steelers have everything they need to win this game, but it’s not going to be easy. They are going to have to play as a team, back each other up, and play with a sense of urgency they haven’t showed yet. If they do, it’s likely that they fly home Sunday night with a win under their belts.