Steel Curtain Network: A Pittsburgh Steelers podcast

2 Winners and 10 Losers after the Steelers awful loss to the Texans

The Pittsburgh Steelers were back on the field Sunday for the fourth game of the 2023 regular season when they played the Houston Texans in Week 4 of regular season action. The Steelers were losers in the contest, but that doesn’t mean every player had a good or bad performance.

Players who play well can be considered ‘Winners’, while those who left a lot to be desired can be called ‘Losers’. It may sound harsh, but it is the crux of this exercise.

Let’s check in to see who fell on which side of the ledger after the latest game…

Winners

Najee Harris
Stat Line: 14 carries, 71 yards, 5.1 ave., 0 TD, 23 long / 1 catch, 32 yards, 2 targets

I can’t say I always love his demeanor and attitude on the field, but on Sunday Najee was the only player who seemed to care. Harris ran hard and was the only offensive player who seemed to show up vs. Houston. It was bad, but without Harris it would have been even worse.

Chris Boswell
Stat Line: 2/2 Field Goals

That’s it. He made both of his kicks. I was clearly looking for positives to glean from such a dreadful day.


Losers

Offensive Line
Stat Line: Surrendered 3 sacks, 6 QB Hits, 7 TFL

The current state of the Steelers offensive line is downright depressing. This was the group which was supposedly to be vastly improved over the unit a year ago. So good they parted ways with Kevin Dotson and Kendrick Green before the season started. Isaac Seumalo looks lost, the center is questionable at best and the tackle situation isn’t much better. For a group which was supposed to be better, they’ve been worse.

Defensive Line
Stat Line: Allowed 139 yards rushing

Everyone will point to the offensive woes after this game, but the defensive front got absolutely abused by that patchwork offensive line. When C.J. Stroud is able to manage 2nd and 3, instead of 3rd and 10, it makes life pretty easy on the young signal caller. If the Steelers defense ever wants to do anything resembling being “elite” or “dominant” it has to start with stopping the run.

Pass Rush
Stat Line: 0 sacks vs. back-up OLine, 6 QB Hits

Speaking of that patchwork line, and the Steelers’ pass rush doing work against them, well that didn’t happen. T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith and company were all left off the sack stat sheet, and it wasn’t all their fault. See the previous section about the Steelers’ inability to stop the run and put Stroud in obvious passing situations as to why it was a challenge to get after the quarterback Sunday in Houston.

Starting CBs
Stat Line: Below the line

When Levi Wallace, Patrick Peterson and Chandon Sullivan are on the field a case could be made the Steelers have the worst cornerbacks in the league. Here is my thought on this, if Joey Porter Jr. has a rough go of it in the early stages of his career, is it worse than what we are currently seeing? If the answer is no, then there is no reason not to put the young cornerback on the field and let him learn the ropes through physical repetitions. In the meantime, Wallace continues to get picked on, and Patrick Peterson is showing his age. Not ideal.

Injuries
Stat Line: Key injuries on offense

The injury bug has come to Pittsburgh, and it has bitten a fair share of the team. Already without Cam Heyward and Diontae Johnson, the chances of being without Pat Freiermuth (hammy) / Kenny Pickett (knee) / Dan Moore (knee) / DeMarvin Leal (concussion) at least in Week 5 before the bye is very real. With the Ravens coming to town, that’s a bad proposition.

Pat Freiermuth
Stat Line: Doesn’t look like he wants to be there

I spoke about this on the post-game podcast, and even mentioned it on Twitter during the game. Pat Freiermuth seems as if he doesn’t want anything to do with blocking anymore. Some said the chest injury suffered in Week 1 has him hesitant to get into the mix and do the tough parts of being a tight end. If that’s truly the case, then shame on the coaching staff for not putting their players in the best position to succeed. If it isn’t true, the team needs “MUTH” healthy and not just able, but willing, to do some of the dirty work on the edge.

Mike Tomlin
Stat Line: Sick of the excuses

I’m a Mike Tomlin guy. I’ve always supported him, but the one thing I can’t support anymore are the excuses. It just seems as if it’s the same garbage lines and excuses week after week, loss after loss. Enough is enough. The term “put up or shut up” comes to mind, and I think the Steelers can not just follow that mantra, but hopefully follow it from their leader.

Matt Canada
Stat Line: 4th and short play call

We’ve all seen the glaring statistics and horrible offense, but to me the Matt Canada experience can be summed up in one play. The 4th and short play call. The Steelers call timeout due to the spot not being what they expected. Then coming OUT OF THE TIMEOUT they go with a shotgun formation play call. Before going any further, the fact the team didn’t have the quarterback under center is bad enough, but it gets worse. They run a play-action play as Pickett scrambles right into the sack which injures his knee. Welcome to the Matt Canada experience, I’d like to exit this ride at anytime now.

All-Around Coaching
Stat Line: Can’t fire the team

The Steelers coaching staff, just like in Week 1, was completely out-coached. There is no way around it, and you could tell from the opening drive. The Steelers’ defense looked a lot like the Steelers’ offense — just guessing. Nothing was educated about the approach, just throwing stuff against the wall in hopes it will stick. Awful.

Tackling
Stat Line: Too many to count, again

The tackling improved slightly in Week 3 in Las Vegas, but it reared its ugly head once again in Week 4. Missed tackles from the defensive line all the way to the secondary equated in big plays. There is a common thread here in this article, and it wasn’t that the offense was the only side of the ball which stunk it up Sunday. The defense was pretty awful too.


If you want a more detailed look at the above list, check out my “Let’s Ride” podcast in the player below where I outline each Winner and Loser, and MORE!

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