Cracks sometimes move slowly. Sometimes, they spread quickly. Sometimes, the cracks were there all along.
For the Steelers, it doesn’t matter how the cracks emerged. They’re there. And coach Mike Tomlin will have his work cut out for him as the Steelers try to get back on the right track after losing on Sunday in Cleveland, 13-10.
Consider this from Mark Kaboly of TheAthletic.com, regarding receiver Diontae Johnson: “Then there was Johnson getting visibly upset on the sidelines during the second half Sunday, which was significant enough that rookie offensive tackle Broderick Jones had to pick him up and carry him away from a member of the coaching staff. That led to a lengthy sideline talk between Johnson and coach Mike Tomlin during the give-and-take moment.”
Johnson was targeted eight times on Sunday. He made two catches for 16 yards.
Kaboly didn’t name the coach involved. The fact that Tomlin had to specifically get involved was likely not something that made him happy during a game the Steelers could have won.
They could have won, if they had only gotten a little more from their passing game. The most effective offensive player by far on Sunday was running back Jaylen Warren, who accounted for more than 58 percent of the total offensive output on the day with 145 yards from scrimmage.
Yes, the cracks are spreading. The post-game comments from running back Najee Harris make that clear. And it sounds as if a players-only (and maybe offense-only) meeting is coming.
“We are going to have a talk after this one as a team,” Harris said, via Kaboly. “That’s the best way to say it. Just all of us. Offense, I think. You can look at the record and still say we are good right now. . . . I look at it like, ‘How long is this shit going to last?’ You all can look at it like it is a good record, but this is the NFL. Winning how we did isn’t going to get us nowhere.”
Harris sounds a lot like some of the naysayers to whom defensive lineman Cam Heyward recently said, “Screw you.” Maybe it’s a good idea, then, for the meeting to indeed be limited to the offensive players.
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