When the Pittsburgh Steelers lost 13-10 to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, the scoreboard told the entire story. The defense again played well against a Browns offense helmed by a rookie quarterback in Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The offense, outside of RB Jaylen Warren, did not. After the game, RB Najee Harris called for the players to come together to figure it out offensively.
However, when C Mason Cole talked with the media Monday afternoon, he seemed okay with the idea of talking but that the root problems were on the field per the video from Steelers.com.
“We’ve had discussions before this season and we’ll see what transpires today, but I’m always open to talking,” Cole said. “We’ve said a lot already this season, we’ve had those talks and conversations. At some point, we’re gonna have to do something about it. We can’t just sit here every time after a loss, coming here and having a big Kumbaya and trying to figure out the world’s problems, right? It’s about execution and playing good football, and we didn’t do that yesterday.”
Cole is right that the Steelers need to execute the plays in front of them and play good football because they have not done either with any consistency this season. There were plenty of issues in Sunday’s game alone where the team failed to execute a play properly. One of the biggest moments was on the first-quarter play that looked like it was a screen pass to Warren but the wide receivers all ran routes.
However, the game was littered with players not being on the same page and failing to execute plays that would have led to more extended drives. Most notably, QB Kenny Pickett and WR Diontae Johnson were not on the same page multiple times which led to incompletions where potential first downs, big gains, and even a touchdown were there to be had.
While communication is certainly an issue, sitting down around the proverbial fire for a rousing Kumbaya does not seem to be the solution as Cole says. That holds especially true if the team has been conducting these sit-down meetings routinely this season. The Steelers are preparing for their 11th game of the season and the starting quarterback and top wide receiver aren’t on the same page.
There’s no question that the offense needs to execute better. However, the offense does need to identify why they’re struggling to do so. If the big talks aren’t doing that, then maybe players like Pickett and Johnson need to sit down and have their own heart-to-heart meetings. Something evidently needs to change, and what they’ve been doing so far hasn’t worked.
If it doesn’t change, then we will likely be invoking former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach John McKay by the end of the season. Legend has it he was asked about how his team was playing on the field, but the question was phrased to essentially ask what he thought of “the offense’s execution.” He reportedly replied, “I’m in favor of it.”
Players and coaches alike have been calling for better execution on offense this season. Fans calling for the proverbial execution of offensive coordinator Matt Canada have been even more frequent. No amount of Kumbaya singing is going to fix the feelings of the fanbase. Only execution, either via the offense scoring touchdowns or by Canada’s (and perhaps others’) firing.