It's official, the Steelers stink

At the midway point of the season the Steelers find themselves at 2-6 and among the worst teams in the NFL.

Consistency is something teams strive for and coaches preach about.

But as the Pittsburgh Steelers are proving this season, it's not always something good.

The Steelers have played with amazing consistency this season as nearly each game this season has mirrored their previous effort.

Of course when those things that a team is doing consistently are bad, the obvious outcome is not exactly what the team is looking for. And right now, the Steelers are consistently bad.

Each game has become a clinic on what not to do on the football field, from turnovers to stupid penalties, to poor defensive play. It's all added up to a 2-6 football team that is playing every bit as bad as its record would indicate.

The Steelers turned the ball over six more times in Sunday's 31-20 loss to the Denver Broncos, with five of those turnovers coming inside Denver's 20-yard line.

That's how a team that rolls up 499 yards of total offense, 27 first downs and runs 26 more plays than its opponent loses a football game.

And the biggest thing about it is that the Steelers have no idea how to fix what's happening to them.

"I don't know what to tell you, I really don't," said head coach Bill Cowher of the team's turnover problems. "I'm at a loss for words. … I don't know what to tell you. I'm going to continue to talk about it and stress it, but we've got to do a better job of protecting the football and we've got to make plays when we've got a chance to make plays."

Short of using the old high school trick of making the players carry balls with them all day long, there really isn't much Cowher can do – at least not right now.

But at 2-6, the Steelers playoff hopes are now all but gone. They certainly aren't eliminated mathematically, but they sure are mentally.

"We're 2-6. We've got to see who wants it, who's going to keep fighting and who threw in the towel," said wide receiver Hines Ward. "We've got the same nucleus of players from last year, with the exception of a player here or there. We were a good team that took care of the ball. We're not doing that for whatever reason. You look at all the games we've lost, we've lost the turnover-takeaway ratio. It's hard to win games like that."

The 53 players on this roster are now not just in a dogfight to try to come up with some kind of positive result from this lost season, they are also auditioning for a job next season as well.

Yes, it's not too early to now start thinking about next season.

That's what we are now left with in regards to this team, something that is ridiculous when you consider where it was just 10 months ago.

"It's a shock," said linebacker Larry Foote. "We're definitely as surprised just like everybody else outside the locker room. But it's hard to win in this league. I don't care what talent you have, you have to be focused for 60 minutes. And when you don't, you wind up being 2-6."

And when you do it consistently over the course of a season, you wind up picking in the top 10 of the draft, which is where this team appears to be headed.

© Once again, Max Starks was awful up front. Once again, most of the Pittsburgh media will ignore that fact because Starks is such a good guy for the TV and radio people to talk to. He's eloquent and always available for their interviews.

In fact, while watching the New England-Indianapolis game Sunday night, I saw a commercial for Monday's news in which the teaser was an exclusive look at Starks' custom car.

Are you kidding me? This team is 2-6, Starks is stinking up the joint and they're doing a feature on his car?

Must be sweeps time.

© Let's see, the right tackle is stinking up the joint, the outside linebackers can't get consistent pressure on the quarterback, the cornerbacks are having trouble covering and nobody can seem to hold onto the football.

So what direction does this team go with its first-round draft pick?

If wide receiver Calvin Johnson from Georgia Tech is available, the Steelers should grab him.

We saw Sunday with Denver's Javon Walker torching the Steelers all over the field what a big-time offensive playmaker can mean for a team.

Hines Ward is good, but he's just not that kind of player. At this point in his career, he's more Rod Smith than Walker – not that there's anything wrong with that.

© Joey Porter was absent from the locker room quickly Sunday. Then again, he was largely missing in action from Sunday's game as well.

There's no truth to the rumor that he led the cheer after the game, "Who stink? We stink."

© Though Ike Taylor ended up being the target of several long passes and a couple of fade patterns in the end zone, Denver quarterback Jake Plummer said the team's plan coming in was to target Deshea Townsend on those plays.

© Plummer tried on several occasions to give the Steelers a chance to win this game. The Steelers either couldn't hold onto the passes he threw them or they fell harmlessly to the ground.

It's really been the story of the season thus far.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.

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