The Patriots And Steelers Are Mirror Images Of Themselves
After four weeks of far less then inspiring football play, the Patriots and Steelers find themselves in the same boat. A boat with many leaks. A boat that needs all hands on deck in order to plug holes in an attempt to keep it afloat before the 2023 season is lost to the depths of the league standings.
After both teams took one on the chin on Sunday their seasons look to be coming into focus. And what's beginning to become more clear is that the two teams appear to have issues that are bigger than the sum of their parts can deal with.
The similarities between the two teams are striking. Poor quarterback play, lack of talent on the offensive line and a lack of creativity with their offensive schemes are the most glaring issues, and those issues can't seem to be covered-up by their strong defensive play.
When an offensive line struggles the offense as a whole struggles. When the quarterback doesn't have the time to process his reads and check to the correct receiver to throw to on a particular play against a particular defensive call the chances of making inaccurate and dangerous throws are greatly increased.
When an offensive line doesn't play as a synchronized unit in the run game and misses assignments and blocks in the passing game it can be reduced to what looks like an unpracticed fire drill at a school for the blind.
That's what happens too often for both of these teams.
Mac Jones ranks 25th in passer rating (80.8) with 5 TD's and 4 INT's.
Kenny Pickett ranks 29th (76.3) with 4 TD's and 4 INT's.
The following are just a few of the QB's that rank higher than both of them: Sam Howell, Anthony Richardson, Justin Fields, Josh Dobbs and Baker Mayfield.
Even the Jets' Zach Wilson isn't far behind with a rating of 72.3.
Wilson had a passer rating of 105.2 in week-4 vs the Chiefs. The only game that either Mac Jones or Kenny Pickett had a better rating than that was Pickett's 108.5 in week-2 vs the Raiders. Ouch.
If a team struggles to move the chains through the air they better be successful doing so with their run game. If their run game is as unsuccessful as their passing game then you're looking at a team that will not be playing football in January.
That's what we have here in Pittsburgh and New England.
The Steelers rank 25th in yards gained per attempt - 3.6.
The Patriots rank 28th at 3.4.
When you can't pass or run at a successful rate, one has to look at the offensive line's inability to win at the line of scrimmage. And, when you look at these two teams you can see that there is a lot of blame to place on these two offensive lines.
Prior to week-4 Pro Football Focus ranked the Patriots offensive line at #25 and the Steelers at #28. And after both teams had major issues offensively in week-4 those ranks are most likely heading south.
So what can we expect in the
weeks ahead? Probably nothing more than what we've seen to this point. Both offensive lines can expect to improve a bit as they develop more continuity, but there isn't enough talent there to expect them to get to a point where these offenses can operate at a level that would get them to the post season.
A defense can only carry a team so far. And, when that defense is on the field for extended periods of time they won't be as successful as they could be if the offenses could move the chains and eat-up some time of possession.
The Steelers are dead last in the NFL when it comes to average time of possession per offensive drive with an average of 2:11.
The Patriots rank 28th at 2:25.
Those 2+ minutes aren't enough to rest a defense in order to keep them operating at a competitive level. When a teams offense is so bad it taxes its defense there are major problems to address. That's where we're at with these two teams.
I may not be able to help either of these teams be more successful, but as far as watching them goes, I can suggest making sure you liquor cabinet is prepared for more of the same.