Frustrations on Steelers’ offense apparent
Wide receiver Antonio Brown has expressed frustration with his role in the Steelers’ offense so far this season.
PITTSBURGH – The Steelers’ veterans called a meeting Wednesday to discuss the state of the team.
Starting wide receiver Antonio Brown chastised offensive coordinator Todd Haley on the sideline Monday night for not having quarterback Ben Roethlisberger target him enough during the first half of a 20-10 loss at Cincinnati.
And the Steelers, at 0-2, are 2½-point underdogs to the Chicago Bears (2-0) Sunday night at Heinz Field.
To say things are at a tipping point with the Steelers would be an understatement.
There’s some frustration bubbling.
“I asked him what he was seeing and tried to go over some of the thoughts with what he was thinking,” Brown said of his discussion with Haley.
“It’s a little bit frustrating when you’re 0-2 and you want to be a contributor to your team, be a difference-maker out there. But we’ve got to stay positive. There’s a lot more football left to play.”
The frustration stems from a myriad of offensive woes that have ailed the Steelers in their first two games. A lack of offensive execution has resulted in only 19 points, 75 rushing yards and a conversion rate of 28 percent on third downs.
“I think it’s more of an execution thing,” said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. “I think everyone’s got the mindset and mentality that we need to get it done. I just don’t think we got it done, especially offensively. Whether it’s guys not doing their job or turning the ball over, you can look at a lot of different things and point to a lot of different issues. We just need to get those things fixed.”
One of the biggest problems right now has been a lack of any kind of deep passing attack.
According to profootballfocus.com, on throws of more than 15 yards, Roethlisberger was only 4-for-15 against the Bengals.
Nine of those passes were overthrows, the first time since 2006 that Roethlisberger had nine overthrows of any length.
“I think we gave him time to make those throws,” said guard Ramon Foster. “For whatever reason, we just weren’t getting completions on them.”
Brown is 5-10, 186 pounds, and fellow starter Emmanuel Sanders is 5-11, 180.
“They’re not the biggest guys in the world, so it’s easy for defensive backs to hold them and push them and arm-bar them and they’re not getting calls,” Roethlisberger said. “They just need to fight through those things. They’ll do that. They take pride in their work and they work hard at it. We’re going to spend some extra time trying to work through those issues.”
A healthy Heath Miller at tight end could help.
In 15 games last season, Miller caught 13 passes for gains of 15 or more yards en route to a team-best 71 receptions for 816 yards and eight touchdowns. He is expected to return to the lineup against the Bears after missing the first two games while rehabbing a knee injury suffered last December.
“He’s the best tight end in the game, so it would mean a lot,” said Roethlisberger. “He’s a leader and a guy we all depend on in the run and pass games.”
Speedy rookie receiver Markus Wheaton also might have an increased role. Wheaton was on the field for seven snaps in a 16-9 loss against Tennessee and five snaps against the Bengals but has yet to see a pass thrown his way.
“I think he’s a guy we can use as a weapon,” Roethlisberger said. “He’s a smart guy. He doesn’t really make any mistakes. … For me, he’s more than ready to get in and start doing some things for us.”
The Steelers need to turn things around in a hurry.
“We can’t point fingers,” said Brown. “We’ve got to point the thumb. Each man in this group and in this room has to collectively come out and be better.”
Cornerback Cortez Allen (ankle) and defensive end Brett Keisel (calf) did not practice Wednesday. … Running back Le’Veon Bell returned to practice in a limited fashion as he makes his return from a mid-foot sprain. … Linebacker Jarvis Jones (heel) also was limited. … Cornerback Isaiah Green was signed to the active roster and kicker Shayne Graham was released. Cornerback Devin Smith was added to the practice squad.