Pittsburgh Steelers: Takeaways from 20-10 Loss to the Jaguars
PITTSBURGH STEELERS: TAKEAWAYS FROM 20-10 LOSS TO THE JAGUARS – The Pittsburgh Steelers faced off against the Jacksonville Jaguars, ultimately suffering a 20-10 defeat. The game unfolded with high expectations but ended in frustration for the Steelers and their fans.
Another Slow Start
On paper, the Steelers having a 4-3 record and being 2-0 in arguably the hardest division is great news. A loss to a Jaguars team that is 12-2 in their last 14 games shouldn’t be the end of the world.
It wasn’t the loss itself that was so unsettling. It was watching the offense start the game with four drives that ended in three-and-out punts and watching quarterback Kenny Pickett fail to show any growth in the system.
We can stop blaming offensive coordinator Matt Canada until Pickett and the offense can execute the plays being called. The first play of the game saw receiver Diontae Johnson wide open running down the seam only to be slightly overthrown and incomplete. The biggest mistake came in the 2nd quarter down 6-0 as Pickett missed a wide-open Johnson in the end zone settling for a field goal.
Mike Tomlin addressed the slow start during his Tuesday press conference, “The early portions of the game don’t decide the outcome. It usually doesn’t. It didn’t today. Obviously, we want more fluid starts, but it didn’t determine the outcome of the game.”
It’s the same predictable story each week. Start slow and hope the defense can save the day with sacks and turnovers. The Steelers formula for success just isn’t sustainable. Despite forcing three turnovers, including two in the red zone, they couldn’t pull out the victory.
Tomlin commented on the defense, “We were able to get some turnovers, but they weren’t the type of turnovers that tee up the offense in terms of being on the short field.”
That statement alone illustrates Tomlin’s lack of confidence in the offense and is a major cause for concern moving forward.
Battered and Bruised
Another cause for concern is the injuries sustained by safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and Pickett. Fitzpatrick went down with a non-contact hamstring injury and is out this week against the Titans.
Pickett left the game with a rib injury after a hit by Jaguars defensive lineman Adam Gotsis.
Unofficially, Pickett will be suiting up for Thursday night’s game.
“I’m playing for sure,” said the second-year quarterback, while Tomlin said he needs to see something out of practice to make that a reality.
A player that has been practicing this week is All-Pro defensive tackle Cam Heyward who is expected to come off injured reserve and play against the Titans.
The officiating in Sunday’s game was inconsistent and downright horrible at times. The offsides call on guard Isaac Seumalo that wiped out a Chris Boswell field goal near the first half was ridiculous.
Boswell posted a clear picture of the erroneous call on his Instagram and was visibly upset when it was called. This coupled with a clear unsportsmanlike penalty not called when Pickett was injured added to the frustrations. Tomlin, after being seen shouting at the officials, had a cooler head when asked about this at his press conference.
“I know a lot has been written and said or asked about the officiating and so forth. Here’s my mindset and our mindset regarding officiating,” said Tomlin. “It is our desire to win definitively, where potentially controversial calls are less significant. That’s what good teams do. That’s what elite teams do. It’s our desire to be a good and elite team so that we’re not as flimsy and become a component of some debatable calls and things of that nature.”
Pittsburgh doesn’t have much time to get healthy and fix one of the worst offenses in the NFL. They are back at home on Thursday night facing a Tennessee Titans (3-4) team that defeated the Atlanta Falcons 28-23. Rookie quarterback Will Levis threw for 238 yards and four touchdowns in his debut. Pickett has yet to throw three touchdowns in his career entering his 20th NFL start.