The Steelers have a problem on their hands, and it’s beginning to metastasize across the locker room in the form of vocal protests from various high-profile players. First up was Antonio Brown, who got upset andthe Ravens two weeks ago.
Then this week, after melting down against the Jaguars, came Ben Roethlisberger, who said on Sunday might not “have it anymore”against the Jaguars in what amounted to a horrific home loss for the Steelers, nearly double-digit favorites coming into the game.
“Maybe I don’t have it anymore,” Roethlisberger said after the game.
Roethlisberger’s day, with the quarterback struggling to push the ball down the field against the dangerous Jaguars secondary. He was noticeably high on a number of passes, completed just 60 percent of his throws and averaged less than six yards per passing attempt on the day. It was not a good effort for Roethlisberger. If you were judging whether or not he has “it” based on Sunday’s game, you would say he does not.
Add Le’Veon Bell, the star running back who somehow only got 15 carries against the Jaguars, to the mix too, with Bell complaining about the gameplan for Pittsburgh on Sunday.
“I don’t think we got enough attempts,” Bell said Monday when asked about the Steelers offensive approach.
Bell isn’t wrong. The Steelers gave Bell 10 touches in the first quarter and he generated 56 yards. They were running the ball effectively during the early portion of the game and completely abandoned it after the Jaguars started to bottle things up in the second and third quarter.
It was bizarre, too, because the Jaguars ranked dead last in Football Outsiders rush defense DVOA coming into the week. It should have been a couple strikes down the field followed by a bunch of Bell, even if the Jaguars knew what the plan was.
“I feel we’re a good enough team to wear guys out whether they know we’re running the ball or not,” Bell said.
Instead, it was the Jaguars who refused to pass the ball — Blake Bortles finished with 14 passing attempts. The Jaguars final 18 plays of the game were ALL RUNS.
At that point they had set themselves up to salt away the game by virtue of scoring twice on defense and having Fournette plunge over the goal line.
But it shouldn’t have been that way. If the Steelers had converted in the red zone or simply remained committed to a simpler game plan, there is a good chance none of this drama is unfolding.