Blame the Organization, Not the Players, for the Steelers' Offensive Struggles

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Watching Sunday's game, I was more frustrated with the Pittsburgh Steelers' offense than I have been in quite some time.  I knew that heading to Lambeau Field to square off against the Green Bay Packers would be no small task.  But it wasn't the opponent's stellar play that left me infuriated.  The Steelers offense for a large part of this season has lacked firepower, and Sunday was more of the same.  Frankly, the organization needs to shoulder the blame for the lackluster results the offense has produced thus far.

Bad Ben

I've talked numerous times this year about this offense's shortcomings and unfortunately, they were on full display again against Green Bay.  The biggest culprits for the lack of quality play have been the quarterback and offensive line.  Ben Roethlisberger has done wonders for this team over the years and I will always remember his great plays and Super Bowl victories as some of my fondest Pittsburgh sports memories.  But nowadays, Ben at 39 years-old and in his 18th season in the NFL, is a shell of his former self.  

His mobility in the pocket is nonexistent and his arm clearly is not what it used to be.  His lack of accuracy in the passing game, especially on deep throws has been a major issue to this point.  I has become very frustrating to continuously see wide open receivers downfield missed by an errant Ben throw by three or four yards.  These misthrows are taking touchdowns off the board, which has put an incredible amount of pressure on the defense.  And with today's style of play, when the offense is struggling to put points on the board, the blame falls on the quarterback.  

Young O-Line

Unfortunately, the offensive line has not helped matters by any means.  Through no fault of their own, this line is young and inexperienced.  It's easy to plug a rookie offensive lineman in with a veteran group to hide their weaknesses while they acclimate to football at the professional level, but having two rookies playing alongside a group that is not very experienced to begin with is a recipe for disaster.  Offensive lines like this are better suited to protect quarterbacks that are capable of making plays with their feet, since their time to throw in the pocket will be shorter than usual.  Those attributes could not be more opposite of the current quarterbacks rostered by the Steelers.

The Front Office Failed the Offense

All of this highlights what I believe to be the core reason for the Steelers' struggles so far this year.  This offense was destined to fail.  Over the past several years, there was a visible decline in Ben's play.  And while it may have been serviceable back then, it was evident that it was only a matter of time before Father Time got the best of Ben.  

Yet, the organization has done little to address this issue.  Drafting Mason Rudolph in the third round of the 2018 draft was the only step they've taken to find Ben's successor.  And based on the play we've seen out of Rudolph over his four years of professional play, it's pretty clear that he is not the long-term solution.  Now the team is stuck in a position that could have been prevented if they had invested in it.

The New York Jets were basically begging teams to take quarterback Sam Darnold off their hands over the offseason, and now he's led the Carolina Panthers to a 3-1 record to start the season.  For a few mid-level draft picks, the Steelers could have had Darnold, who was the third overall pick in the 2018 draft, sit behind Ben for a year and be groomed into the future starting quarterback of the franchise.  Instead, they chose to make no moves at the quarterback position and the results so far this year are very telling.  

The same can be said for the offensive line.  After the retirement of center Maurkice Pouncey and release of guard David DeCastro in the offseason, the team tried patching the holes these departures created with some mid-level draft selections instead of actually addressing the problem at the top of the draft.  

The team has taken a patchwork-like approach to their issues on the offensive side of the ball and predictably, it is showing early in the season.  With how much talent the receivers have and the sparks that rookie running back Najee Harris has flashed so far, it is truly a shame.  This offense could be, and should be, one of the best in the league.  Yet, it continues to sputter week after week.  The organization put the team in a position to fail and now they, and unfortunately all of us fans, must suffer the consequences of it.