Ch-Ch-Changes?

With December here, the Steelers are who they are, not who we thought they were. What can Mike Tomlin do, if anything, to right the ship?

Mike Tomlin said following Sunday's 27-24 loss by the Pittsburgh Steelers to the Oakland Raiders that lineup changes may be coming.

But that probably nothing more than a knee-jerk reaction by a head coach who went into a game wanting to unleash hell only to have his team look like it instead.

Realistically, what changes can Tomlin make with this team at this point?

With four games remaining in the season – I'd add regular there, but that's looking like a given – Tomlin has seen enough of this roster to know who should be playing and who shouldn't.

And anybody who should have been playing was already on the field Sunday.

You could make a valid argument that cornerback William Gay shouldn't be out there any more, but who do you replace him with? An aging Deshea Townsend? Rookies Joe Burnett or Keenan Lewis?

As it currently stands, Gay will probably be out for Thursday's game at Cleveland anyway after suffering a concussion late in Sunday's game on a hit by teammate Ryan Mundy.

Outside of that, the Steelers are who they are, a 6-6 team struggling to keep its head above water.

© Rashard Mendenhall had seven carries for 67 yards in the first quarter and did not touch the ball again the remainder of the first half.

Not only did he not get any carries, he wasn't even on the field, as Willie Parker played the next two series and Mewelde Moore the third when the Steelers were in their two-minute offense.

Admittedly, the Steelers scored on two plays on Parker's first series, but to not get Mendenhall a carry in the second quarter was a big mistake.

I'm all for keeping everyone involved, but not at the expense of winning games.

© It was not the only coaching mistake in this game. Attempting a 53-yard field goal at Heinz Field in December to open the fourth quarter in a game in which you hold a four-point lead was a bigger one.

That one should be right up there with "never get involved in a land war in Asia" and "Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line."

© All you really need to know about the Steelers defense this season is that Bruce Gradkowski was five of 16 for 18 yards and two interceptions – a 1.0 passer rating – against the Steelers in 2008. Sunday, he was 20 of 33 for 308 yards and three touchdowns, a 121.8 passer rating.

© Confidence is a big thing in sports and the Steelers aren't playing with a lot right now.

By the same token, you can see the confidence in the fourth quarter that opponents have playing the Steelers. They know if they can keep things close, they can win it in the end.

© The Steelers ran the ball 27 times and threw it 24. Is that the offensive balance you're looking for?

The Steelers put 24 points on the board, but blew two red zone trips in the first half when Ben Roethlisberger slipped on a fourth-and-short plunge and then threw a bad interception in the end zone.

You didn't think that would hurt them against the Raiders' popgun offense, but this team has proven again and again, it's capable of beating anyone or losing to anyone.

© The 6-6 the Steelers are sitting at after 12 games feels a lot different than the 6-6 Miami is currently at.

In Miami, they're thinking about playoff possibilities. In Pittsburgh, they're thinking about who the Steelers are going to draft.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.


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