Steelers' Mike Tomlin recognizes offensive woes, booing fans

PITTSBURGH — Less than 13 hours after a success, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin confessed his offense wasn’t playing up to the level it accomplished in the preseason.

Through 2 video games, the Steelers’ offense is balancing 9.5 points per video game and a league-low 12 very first downs. On Monday night, Pittsburgh just had 9 very first downs and didn’t run a single red zone play in a 26-22 success versus the Cleveland Browns.

And yet, Tomlin stated the service wasn’t in making “knee-jerk” responses to enact “wholesale changes.”

“We have to get our mojo back,” Tomlin stated Tuesday. “We got to get that mojo that we had in the preseason where we’re playing fast and fluid with confidence, individually and collectively. We’ve lost that, to be blunt, in the last several weeks.

“… We do acknowledge that 2 is a pattern. We’ve had 2 getaways that are not up to snuff because regard, therefore it has our attention as we are getting ready for this next one.”

The 26 points scored by the Steelers without a red zone drive were the team’s most in the past 45 years — and the most in the NFL since the Kansas City Chiefs had 27 vs. the New Orleans Saints in 2016.

The Steelers managed just one offensive touchdown in each of their first two games, a far cry from the five touchdowns scored on the first team’s five preseason possessions. Pickett has been erratic so far this season, completing just 60.5% of his attempts — ahead of only starting quarterbacks Bryce Young, Joe Burrow, Bryce Young, Deshaun Watson and Zach Wilson.

“He’s done a great deal of things well in preparation,” Tomlin said of Pickett. “He might play much better — all of us might play much better — however procedurally I like what I see from him. And normally when a man procedurally remains in the ideal area, the efficiency quickly follows.”

The run game is also stagnant with only 96 total rushing yards at an average of 3.1 yards per carry, which ranks 27th in the league. The Steelers have also punted 13 times this season, tied for most in the league.

Since Matt Canada was elevated to offensive coordinator in 2021, the Steelers’ offense has sputtered and struggled to consistently move the ball. Since that time, every other NFL team has had at least three games with 400 total yards of offense; the Steelers have had none.

“We’re not appointing blame for anybody. Obviously it begins with training,” Tomlin said of the offense’s slow start. “We got to coach much better. We got to get these people playing quicker with more fluidity. We got to begin quicker. We need to play more collaborated, especially at the early phases of video games.”

With the offensive struggles predating the 2022 season, the frustration among the fan base reached a fever pitch Monday night.

Steelers fans at Acrisure Stadium grew restless with each additional punt Monday night, booing the offense when it came off the field after fruitless drives.

“It’s got to get us going,” tight end Pat Freiermuth said after the game. “Obviously it’s never ever enjoyable, however we got to gain from that, and clearly it’s more of an inspiration to let’s get this thing going. We enjoy the fans here, and clearly they anticipate excellent football, so I’ll be attempting to continue to get excellent football and wins for them.”

By the team’s seventh punt Monday night, a loud chant imploring Tomlin to fire offensive coordinator Matt Canada enveloped the stadium.

Asked about it Tuesday, Tomlin didn’t criticize the fans for their words.

“I value their enthusiasm,” Tomlin said. “I share their enthusiasm. We all do, guy. We enjoy our fans, guy. They motivate us. They challenge us. It’s a remarkable relationship, guy. We do not range from difficulties. We go to difficulties.

“This is a sport entertainment business. It is our job to win and thus entertain them, and so we don’t begrudge them for that. We want them to be fat and sassy and spoiled. It is our job.”

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