PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)- What better way to cure a four-game losing streak than facing an old friend, the Cleveland Browns. That’s what the Steelers will on Sunday when they travel to FirstEnergy Stadium to take on the 0-10 Browns.
Color analyst Rich Gannon will join play-by-play man Kevin Harlan on the call of the game this week for the NFL on CBS. Rich joined “The Fan Morning Show” on Thursday to give a preview of the matchup.
One thing that stands out to Gannon as he looks at this year’s Steelers is the difference in the style of play of the defense. This is not the Steelers units you may remember from year’s past.
“When you watched the Pittsburgh Steelers on defense over the years, there was a certain style in which they played,” said Gannon. “They played with great intensity, effort, finish. They were physical, if they didn’t sack the quarterback, he was getting knocked around. As a quarterback, I just remember going into those games thinking this is one where you have to make sure both of those chinstraps, those buckles are buckled, I mean, you’re going to get hit. You just watch them now and you don’t see that same ferociousness. I don’t know if it’s a personnel thing, I don’t know if it’s a situation where they’re not pressured as much, but if I’m [Steelers defensive coordinator] Keith Butler, I’ve got to get back to saying, ‘Hey look, we’ve got to be a physical unit on defense.'”
Gannon tells the Steelers to be more fundamentally sound on defense and get meaner to win this game.
“You play into your technique and everybody is playing with great gap integrity and all the things they preach in that 3-4 defense,” Gannon said.
Gannon does believe that now was a good time for Ben Roethlisberger to speak out about some of the accountability issues with the team.
“You look at where they’re [the Steelers] are at, they’re 4-5 and obviously they aren’t playing the type of football, especially over the last month, that they were hoping to and I think it just gets back to the consistency and production of all three phases,” Gannon said. “Special teams hasn’t been where it needs to be…I think offensively they’ve been up and down and I think defensively, really, in my opinion, studying them on tape, is where they have the biggest issue.”
Since this four-game losing streak began, many Steelers fans have been searching for answers as to why the struggles have come about. Often times, head coach Mike Tomlin’s name is mentioned as part of the problem, and some are calling for his job. But, Gannon assures us that Tomlin’s reputation around the league is still very strong.
“[He’s perceived] probably with great respect and he should be,” said Gannon. “Look, the one thing about Mike Tomlin is he’s not going to overreact. I think he’s very honest with his players and with the team and this is a team that historically has responded when their backs have been to the wall. So, I would anticipate that you’re going to see this Pittsburgh team go out and really play well on Sunday in Cleveland.”
Gannon, though, did not have as many endearing things to say about Roethlisberger and his road performances this season.
“You look at the offense and in particular Ben Roethlisberger’s numbers home and away, and there’s a reason they are 1-3 on the road. I mean, his numbers on the road; not very good,” said Gannon. “You know, you talk about Mike Tomlin and you talk about the defense, everybody has to play better, including big Ben.”
You can check out the entire interview with Rich Gannon on “The Fan Morning Show” below.