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Kovacevic: Chaotic Steelers a bloody mess

| Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, 10:23 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is sacked by the Vikings' Chad Greenway and Jared Allen in the third quarter Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, at Wembley Stadium in London.

LONDON — This, as the natives here say, is a bloody mess.

It's not just that your 2013 Steelers are 0-4 for the first time in 45 years, this after a far-worse-than-the-final 34-27 flogging from the Vikings on a historic and yet thoroughly forgettable Sunday at Wembley Stadium.

It's not even that, in the general sense and with gusto, the Steelers really stink.

It's that they're so much of a mess it's hard to know where to start. Or even what to make of their all-over-the-map reaction to it all.

A kind person might suggest that's natural for a franchise that's won for so long.

Anyone feeling kind?

Anyone feeling, gee, they were due for a down year?

For that matter, anyone feeling hope in any form for the foreseeable future?

Let me state this bluntly: The very best thing that can happen to the Steelers the rest of this season is to stop this from spiraling out of control. To stop the bleeding from this bloody mess.

And I'm not sure they can do even that little.

“More than anything,” Mike Tomlin said at his news conference before the first question, “we'll focus on getting better. That's what's going to change the outcome of these football games. Those that don't ain't gonna be a part of us. I have great patience. As long as I see belief and effort and continued improvement. If I don't … they ain't gonna be a part of it. Whoever it may be. It's just that simple.”

If only.

Meaning, if only we'd see the first sign of accountability.

If, for example, Dick LeBeau has Troy Polamalu sniffing up at the line every other snap, and the secondary has been burned for huge plays while not appearing to have, you know, safeties playing safety, might Polamalu drop back?

I asked Tomlin: “No, because it's about missed tackles.”

I asked Troy: “Our No. 1 goal is to stop the run.”

OK, hey, just stick with that, then. Because the rest of us must be blinded by all the times the Vikings threw deep against isolated corners.

If, for another example, Mike Adams can't even serve as a turnstile against the Vikings' terrific Jared Allen — a turnstile at least slows you down — um, why did he play?

I asked Tomlin: “You know, when Ramon Foster went down, Kelvin Beachum was playing guard. In terms of the people that we intended to be prepared to play this week, it's only a certain number who can. Anybody else we'd have put in would have been below the line in terms of preparation.”

Say what?

That's a clear reference to Guy Whimper, the backup tackle who by logical extension must be the world's worst at what he does to live below the Adams line.

But why fuss over Whimper's first-team reps when Adams was flat-out giving up on plays?

He occasionally conceded a path to the franchise's $102 million quarterback!

On the game's penultimate snap, with Allen his obvious assignment just to his left, Adams went to his right to double-team some other guy!

Never mind accountability for a disintegrating second-round bust. How about actual in-game accountability?

None of this is to suggest that Polamalu's positioning or Adams' Gandhi-style blocking or the potential Whimper cavalry were singularly decisive. I'm just citing examples. And I could cite a ton more, not least of which is the head coach's laughable plan to fly 3,761 miles a couple days before kickoff.

The accountability for that when Tomlin was asked if the itinerary was a factor?

“Nope.”

It was a weird night. Off the field, too.

Tomlin was all over the locker room even after media were allowed, talking to players, asking questions, shaking hands. Never seen that.

Moreover, I'd never heard Roethlisberger say things like this: “Right now, you could say we're the worst team in the league. That hurts, but …”

Or this, when I asked if he shares Tomlin's stance that jobs should be lost: “Yeah, and I'd start with me.”

But I have heard Ryan Clark say things like this, which he reiterated: “It'll look like we're a bad football team. We don't believe that.”

Which is it?

The hard fact is, this team hasn't got a clue right now.

The offense looks like kindergarten chaos, with Roethlisberger either winging it or running for his life or both while the opponent somehow preps emergency quarterback Matt Cassel with a slick set of quick-release options.

The zero-takeaway, zero-contact defense has become such an embarrassment that Adrian Peterson waltzed through a hole the size of the English Channel for a TD not once but twice, something unthinkable for this group for the better part of a decade.

Jobs? Yeah, let's talk jobs. But let's not limit the topic.

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