The Pittsburgh Steelers went 2-2 without Ben Roethlisberger. Almost anyone would have taken that from the start.
What has changed the narrative a bit and some frustration is how the Steelers played down to their competition in the two losses and saw a coaching staff overthink things vs the Ravens and Chiefs.
Le’Veon Bell not used in key situations vs the Ravens, Le’Veon Bell not used enough vs the Chiefs. It was typical Todd Haley. Goes from calling a great second half vs the Cardinals to trying to become the story a week later in having Landry Jones wing the ball around vs the Chiefs.
The Steelers were too conservative with Mike Vick under center and a bit too aggressive game plan with Jones at the helm.
The risky game plan proved costly with three turnovers.
Jones, though, was adequate enough.
The story of the loss was on the defense.
The inside linebacker play from Lawrence Timmons and Ryan Shazier was below the line and the Steelers defensive front as expected took a big hit without Stephon Tuitt playing.
Cam Thomas was forced into action to play 36 snaps and about all eight snaps from Daniel McCullers were awful one’s.
With this defensive group it’s more likely than not that it has peaked, especially in the secondary where some cracks are showing.
It’s been multiple weeks now that teams are picking on Antwon Blake who is proving he’s a No. 4 – No. 5 type than a No. 2 cornerback.
At some point the Steelers are going to need Brandon Boykin and that time needs to be soon with Andy Dalton, yes Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert coming to town.
The Steelers at 4-3 now get a reboot with Ben Roethlisberger set to return in a divisional showdown with the Bengals on Sunday and three straight home games.
Even with Roethlisberger back this week, nine games to go the Steelers certainly look more like a 9-7 team than an 11-5 team.
We really find out about this defense on Sunday and will learn the following two weeks after whether the Steelers can avoid their history under Tomlin of playing down to competition.
A 2-1 stretch puts them at 6-4 at the 10 game mark before a four game stretch against the Seahawks, Colts, Bengals and Broncos.