The question of age was again broached at Mike Tomlin’s weekly news conference.
“I don’t care how our performances are characterized or the reasons why,” the Steelers coach said. “This is a bottom-line business, and the bottom line is what we have on tape. That’s not good enough right now.”
If Tomlin is dismissive of questions about his aging defense, I am weary of them.
They may be legitimate, but to say the Steelers’ problems stem from their defense getting old is too simplistic.
It also gives a pass to younger players who are just as responsible for the Steelers underachieving through the first month of the season as the supposed graybeards. Take for instance:
— LaMarr Woodley: He was way out of position on Arian Foster’s 42-yard touchdown run last Sunday, and lax discipline has been symptomatic of what ails the Steelers’ run defense. Woodley, 26, hasn’t approached the level of play that made him an emerging star -– and compelled the Steelers to make him the highest-paid player in franchise history.
— Lawrence Timmons: As with Woodley, the Steelers need more return on their investment. The guy that James Farrior said could be the best defensive player in all of football has made a minimal impact.
Maybe a temporary move to right outside linebacker will get Timmons, 25, going.
— Ziggy Hood: Third-year defensive end is among those that haven’t helped the Steelers linebackers.
The light seemed to go on for Hood, 24, in the second half of last season. Or maybe Hood was simply healthy. Whatever the case, he hasn’t built on his solid play from 2010.
The Steelers desperately need him to step up.
— Rashard Mendenhall: Yeah, there hasn’t been much running room. But that hasn’t stopped Isaac Redman from averaging 4.9 yards on 22 carries.
Redman is simply running with more authority than the 24-year-old Mendenhall, who is on pace for 692 rushing yards this season.
— Maurkice Pouncey: Pouncey hasn’t dominated the way he did last season, when he became the Steelers’ first rookie offensive lineman to make the Pro Bowl since 1955.
Pouncey, 22, may be trying to compensate for some of his teammates. What can be said with certainty: the Steelers need him to become the leader of their offensive line.
— Scott Brown