Pittsburgh Steelers' fans should have seen this week's pathetic and uninspired opening day performance coming a few seasons ago. In fact, one could make the argument that the slide began the second half of last season when the Steelers finished the season with a 3-5 record over their final eight games.
The Steelers offense looked confused, uninspired and unmotivated during Sunday's 16-9 loss to the Tennessee Titans. The main reason Tomlin brought in second year offensive coordinator Todd Haley was to resurrect the running game and get back to Steelers football. Haley's offense produced exactly 32 yards on 15 carries-hardly Steelers football. Meanwhile, Roethlisberger completed 21 of 33 passes for an anemic 191 yards, one touchdown and one interception. At one point during his career, there was no quarterback in the league that was better late in games than Roethlisberger. Now, it's safe to say that Roethlisberger's late game heroics has fizzled. An interception to lose the game against Dallas last season is just one of many recent examples.
There is plenty of blame to go around and yes, one could also argue that Maurkice Pouncey's injury and the implementation of a new zone blocking scheme contributed to the offenses poor performance. But in reality,the Steelers would have lost to whoever they played last Sunday; They were poised to lose.
None of this should come as a shock when all one had to do was watch the Steelers unflattering preseason games. Big Ben and Co. sputtered often and were only able to put up one touchdown in three games with the lone touchdown coming during the third preseason game versus Kansas City. Former offensive coordinator, and current Arizona Cardinals head coach, Bruce Arians isn't looking so bad now.
With the Steelers lack of offensive productivity, one had to be scratching their head wondering where rookie speedster Marcus Wheaton was; The Oregon State game breaker didn't see the field after shining during the preseason. Despite being a rookie, Wheaton could potentially be the Steelers most productive wide receiver if given the chance. Wheaton was drafted to replace former wide receiver Mike Wallace who took his talents, and checkbook, to Miami.
Let's face it, head coach Mike Tomlin was given the keys to a high-mileage Cadillac, but; Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert neglected to get the oil changed. Other than Tomlin's 2007 draft, where he and Colbert drafted both Lawrence Thimmons and Lamar Woodley No.'s 1 and 2 respectively, the Steelers have failed to draft high-quality players in the early rounds and it's beginning to show.
Things don't get any easier for the Steelers when they travel to Cincinnati next Monday night to face former linebacker James Harrison and arguably the best defensive line in the NFL.