ShareThis Page

In the midst of a losing season, the Steelers are looking to right the ship

| Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, 1:12 p.m.
Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau during practice, August , 2013 at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau during practice, August , 2013 at St. Vincent College in Latrobe.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin speaks to the media during his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, on the South Side
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin speaks to the media during his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, on the South Side

Changes are coming to the Steelers, perhaps big ones. Larry Foote can feel it.

He doesn't know when or where, or who will be involved. All he knows is the Steelers' organization won't stand much longer for the record-setting poor performances this 2013 team is producing.

“This isn't the way the Steelers play,” Foote said of a 2-6 team that surrendered an NFL record 93-yard touchdown run by a quarterback and a team-record 55 points and 610 yards allowed in just its past two games.

At his weekly news conference Tuesday, coach Mike Tomlin wouldn't fault his players for their effort during the 55-31 loss to New England, and he didn't detail a single lineup change for the Sunday home game against Buffalo (3-6).

“We were beaten soundly in the game and dominated in a lot of facets,” Tomlin said. “I had concerns about the quality of the effort after a performance like that. After combing through the tape, there were no blatant breaches of that.”

But Foote said it's becoming clear among the players that, “You better play well or you will be out of here.”

“It's dark on the South Side right now,” said Foote, an 11-season Steelers veteran, during a 93.7 FM appearance. He is out for the season with a torn biceps but expects to play in 2014.

Foote also said what is becoming obvious about a franchise that is 4-11 over the past year: “There are some holes on this team. ... The draft picks have to step up and play better.”

Who is accepting blame for what appears to be some substandard recent drafts? Tomlin.

Asked who has a bigger role in the Steelers' picks — the head coach or general manager Kevin Colbert — Tomlin said, “I take responsibility for the players we have drafted since I've been here. Not only in recent drafts, but since I've been here. Because it's the truth.”

Since Tomlin arrived in 2007, the Steelers have drafted four Pro Bowl players in Mike Wallace, now with the Dolphins; Maurkice Pouncey, who is injured and out for the season; LaMarr Woodley and Antonio Brown.

With a 2-6 record, the Steelers own what is easily the worst midseason record of any Tomlin-coached team. The previous worst was 5-3, and the turnaround was clearly unexpected despite the Steelers' 8-8 record in 2012.

“It's difficult,” Tomlin said. “But not anything from a personal standpoint. I don't care about my personal record. ... We're here to win. That's our charge, that's our job, that's our passion. We're not getting it done, consistently, to this point. So that's irritating and frustrating.”

He also called the Patriots game “humbling.”

Part of the reason for the Steelers' worst start since they also were 2-6 in 2006 is they are playing the worst defensive football of coordinator Dick LeBeau's current 10-season tenure; their 341.3 yards per game allowed are easily the most during that time. They're giving up more than 100 yards per game more than their Super Bowl-winning 2008 team did (237.2).

But Tomlin said that's no reflection on LeBeau, who received a strong vote of confidence from the head coach.


“Because he's Dick LeBeau,” Tomlin said of the Hall of Fame player and coach.

On his weekly NFL Radio appearance, Tomlin said the 76-year-old LeBeau “wants to get this thing corrected” and already is moving on to the Bills game.

The Steelers, who must go 6-2 in their final eight to avoid their first losing season in 10 years, have little choice but to follow.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.