Yet another dismal performance by what was once the toughest team in the NFL. I don't think 5-11 or 4-12 is out of the realm of possibility this year. A terrible game and if you want to take solace in the fact that Ben was only sacked twice, then I guess there's your silver lining. As for the rest of it:
1) We lead the league in one yard receptions. If it's not a dreaded bubble screen, it's a crossing route that doesn't go beyond one yard past the line of scrimmage. That's probably not as good as a run, but given our performance with the run, perhaps it's our best option. I am sick of seeing screens to the WRs - I haven't seen many that have worked and teams seem to be ready for them, but we insist on running them.
2) Our rush D is no longer stingy or fearsome. Gains of 5+ yards are now common against this team, which was unheard of just a few years ago. We seem especially prone to the cut-back run.
3) Our young guys have not developed. We used to find all sorts of steals in the mid-rounds but have lost our way recently. I found out last night that Timmons is in his SEVENTH year. While he's shown flashes of greatness, he hasn't been consistent. We could have had Geno Atkins in the 4th round in 2010 and instead we took...Thaddeus Gibson. That's emblematic of the failings of the FO in the draft over the last several years.
4) The ongoing drama between Ben and Haley. He said/he said, is Ben happy? It's ridiculous and it's affecting the team. I know Haley doesn't make Ben overthrow guys, but it's clear Ben hates the offense. A draw on 3rd and 8 on the first possession of the game? No guts to our offense, none whatsoever.
5) Tomlin's continuing inability to lead this team through tough circumstances. Here's a quote from last night: “It starts with that acknowledgement that they were the better team tonight. The margin of error was small … We’ve got work to do. We don’t hide from that. We accept that and embrace that.” He is a master of the post-game quote, but his personnel decisions and his in-game adjustments are terrible. I believe he has lost this team.
6) Run game continues to be a joke. Running back by committee isn't a running game. We used to dominate in the run and it made play action very effective. Now teams don't respect the run and play action is almost useless.
7) Our defense continues to be allergic to sacking the QB and forcing turnovers. This is the third year that it's been really pronounced. I know LeBeau is a master, but his scheme doesn't fit this personnel. We get no pressure on the QB. How many times was Dalton knocked down last night? I counted three.
8 WRs aren't providing much. We don't have a true deep threat (not one that sees regular time anyway) and Sanders has been a huge disappointment. The Pats can have him.
9) We have a wonderful ability to give the ball away at the worst times. Paulson's fumble killed momentum. If I was Tomlin, regardless of personnel, I would have sat Paulson for the rest of the half, at least. There needs to be consequences. I know we're thin at TE, but it doesn't matter. Turnovers continue to kill us. That's coaching, I believe.
Haley needs to go, Tomlin needs to be put on notice and somehow this team needs to get an identity. Right now, we are without an identity on either side of the ball and we don't seem to have a plan to fix it. I know the FO wants to keep Ben healthy, but Haley is not the guy. Forget about the good start last year before Ben got hurt - I believe it was only a matter of time before teams adjusted to what Haley was running. Haley is not the right guy to run the offense. We are in a precarious spot - the present is bleak, the future doesn't look much better and no one seems to know how to fix things.
Relax already. Defense is ok not great, special teams improved, BUT the offense in a word stinks. We should have at a minimum 3wr in on every play except special teams to spread the field. TE is killing us right now in the run game and passing game, Start Felix right now until LaVeon is ready and use Paulson only in desparate situations. QUESTION - who is our short yardage(slot) receiver, we need to get him the ball more often instead of trying SO many bubble screens and long developing pass plays.