MIRZA ZUKIC: Steelers' enthusiasm dwindling
If there was reason for the Pittsburgh Steelers to feel good six days ago, after getting their first preseason win in two years, all that enthusiasm has been washed away with Thursday’s ugly loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.
In their third preseason game, the closest thing to a regular-season dress rehearsal they’ll get, the Steelers fell flat on their face.
Instead of putting their best foot forward in a game in which the starters see their most significant playing time of the preseason, they looked flat, disinterested, like they didn’t even want to be on the field.
Le’Veon Bell and LaGarrette Blount, busted by the police with pot a day earlier, weren’t the only dopes on the field. All the Steelers looked like dopes on Thursday night.
“It was probably an ugly game to look at from home,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said.
There is no probably about it.
Just like last season, the Steelers couldn’t stop the run, even after LeSean McCoy left the game.
They didn’t do a whole lot better against the pass, making Nick Foles look like an elite NFL quarterback that he is certainly not.
That doesn’t even mention the slew of untimely penalties that extended one Eagles drive after another or the state of disarray on the offensive side.
Far too often, Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t on the same page with his young receivers.
That’s probably more on the receivers than Big Ben, but it doesn’t change the fact the offense seems to have taken a step back since the start of the preseason, not forward.
And for those of you who thought Antonio Brown wasn’t involved enough in the offense, please save it.
Yes, Brown could have made an impact, especially in the first half when he didn’t have one ball thrown his way.
But the Steelers know what Brown can do. The preseason isn’t about padding his stats or showing off his abilities; it’s about figuring out who is made for the NFL and who’s not.
“It’s not shocking,” Tomlin said. “We don’t want to play like that under any circumstances, but we did. … It’s more important how we move forward and make the proper corrections in all three phases so that doesn’t happen again.”
Often considered the most important game of the preseason for the starters, the third game was a disaster for the Steelers.
The popular opinion seems to be that the Steelers could expect to improve on back-to-back 8-8 seasons. After getting the most extensive look at the first-team offense and defense, it’s just as easy to see them going in the opposite direction this season.
The team that took the field Thursday didn’t even look like an 8-8 team.
Mirza Zukic covers the Steelers for The Indiana Gazette.