By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers players called a team meeting for early Wednesday afternoon, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was among those who addressed group concerning its 0-2 start.
“It’s not like it’s a magic solution and we’re going to have a talk and a meeting, and everything’s going to be fixed,” Roethlisberger said prior to the meeting. “It’s more just about getting together and coming up with solutions and things that we can bring to the team, because we feel like that’s the thing we should do as leaders. … I think it’s more of an execution thing.
“I think everyone’s got the attitude and the mindset and the mentality that we need to get it done. I just don’t think that we got it done, especially offensively. Whether it’s guys just not doing their jobs, turning the ball over … there are a number of issues, and we just need to get those things fixed. It’s early in the season, and we need to get turned around quick.”
It’s the first time since 2002 that the Steelers began a season with two straight losses. The only current Steelers player around for that season was defensive end Brett Keisel, a seventh-round pick that year. Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor, 11-year veterans taken in the 2003 NFL Draft in the first and fourth round, respectively, have never been 0-2.
“I’m not used to it, and there’s not really too many guys who have been here longer than me,” running back Isaac Redman said. “I’ve been here for a while now (2009), so it’s something new. But we’ll see how we perform with our backs against the wall now. … We just have to stop beating ourselves.
“We’ve done that in the opening two games. There also was just a lack of execution on our part. Cincinnati’s a good team, and they played a good game. And they deserved the win. But, after watching the film, there’s a lot that we can correct about what happened out there with the whole offense.”
Roethlisberger cautioned not to read too much into this meeting.
“It’s really just a way for us to meet,” Roethlisberger said. “The other guys, we’ve met three or four times now. We met during OTAs, mini-camp and we did it during training camp.
“We said we wanted to meet periodically about the state of the team and where we are, and these are things we think we need to do as leaders. … Now, it’s just a good time to get together. It’s not a panic thing, but it’s just a good time for us to get together to talk.”
Wideout Jerricho Cotchery talked about the team’s mood.
It’s not good,” Cotchery said. “We’re 0-2, and that’s the natural response to coming off a loss and being 0-2 right now. You just constantly replay things in your head, plays that you should have made, plays that you need to make. Period. So, it’s not a good feeling right now, not a good mood here, but guys are ready to get back on the field to get back to work.
“We want to make sure that we’re getting better, because that’s the sole purpose of watching film. I’m glad that we took that opportunity to watch that Cincinnati film today and move ahead to Chicago. … Cincinnati played a lot more zone the other night. So, when plays needed to be made, we just didn’t come up with enough. We made a few, but not enough during the game
“I had one drop, but it’s a play that helps your momentum and helps to get your team in a groove,” Cotchery added. “It would have moved the chains and probably would have gone for a big chunk of yardage. So, those plays like that add up, and they need to be made to get your offense into a good rhythm.”
There also were a few times when Roethlisberger and the wide receivers didn’t appear to be running the same plays, as balls sailed high and wide or routes not run where the passes went.
“(Our wideouts) aren’t the biggest guys in the world, so it’s easier for defensive backs to hold them and arm-bar them, and they’re not getting calls,” Roethlisberger said. “So, it’s tough, but they need to keep fighting through it. I know they’ll do that. They take pride in their work, and they work hard at it.
“So, we’re going to spend some extra time to make sure we can work through those issues. Chicago has two big corners, and they’re physical. So, it’s going to be another challenge. They’re another good defense that we’re going to play, and we’re going to have to be on our screws and really start to work now.”
Roethlisberger also addressed the David Paulson fumble situation, noting that he could have made a bigger issue of it to get a play called, but believed the coaches knew something that he didn’t since they kept sending other personnel onto the field.
“I was trying to get up there, and anytime you see the ball on the ground that was ruled down and a completion you try to do that,” Roethlisberger said. “But you never know. … So, I was trying to get up there, but we had some personnel issues. We had Kelvin Beachum in the game, so he would have had to report. And ran up to him and told him to report to the official, because I wanted to hurry up and run a play.
“By that time, we were running guys on and off, and Marvin (Bengals coach Lewis) threw the flag. I probably could have made a bigger issue, but if coaches aren’t making a big deal about it I figured they knew more than me. We have coaches in the box, and I thought since they were sending guys onto the field they knew something I didn’t know.”
Now, clearly, there has to be better communication for the Steelers to get back on the winning track.
Note: Roethlisberger said he was unaware of any sideline shouting match between wideout Antonio Brown and offensive coordinator Todd Haley, which had been reported a day after the game. Brown was not available before practice, and Haley doesn’t talk with the media until Thursday.