Carolina Panthers' owner Jerry Richardson has always admired the Pittsburgh Steelers and yearned for his organization to emulate the six-time Super Bowl champions. Two weeks into the 2013 season Richardson has achieved his dream, but not in the way he hoped.
Mutually assured mediocrity is a strange middle ground for these teams to meet, but here we are. The 0-2 Steelers and the 0-2 Panthers have similar quarterbacks, offensive line issues and new offensive coordinators who are failing at their jobs while suffocating their big-armed quarterbacks.
Lets follow this blueprint for failure
An offense with no identity
Neither the Carolina Panthers nor the Pittsburgh Steelers have any offensive direction. Both are touted as run-first teams, but they don't have the offensive lines to do so effectively. DeAngelo Williams has run the ball well in spite of his blockers, not because of them -- while the Steelers simply don't have a good running back to begin with.
The issues begin up front, but each team's offense is being destroyed by incompetent offensive coordinators. Neither Cam Newton nor Ben Roethlisberger are the kind of quarterbacks who should run dink-and-dunk offenses, yet that's what they're being asked to do.
Yards per attempt (Career vs. 2013)
|Ben Roethlisberger||7.9 YPA||6.3 YPA|
|Cam Newton||7.9 YPA||5.8 YPA|
Both quarterbacks have been sacked seven times, but the real issue is the lack of deep passing and it's the fault of Todd Haley and Mike Shula, paired with offensive line issues.
In order to get both teams back on track the offenses need to allow their quarterbacks to live and die by the deep ball, while also finding a way to protect them better. This doesn't need to be a spate of free agent signings, it could just mean keeping a tight end in the backfield or having the quarterbacks run play action more.
Each team tried dinking and dunking, it's not working.
Where's the pass rush?
In 2012 the Steelers and Panthers were two of the top pass rushing teams in the NFL, but that has dried up. Despite millions of dollars and resources tied up to get after the quarterback the Panthers have just three sacks on the year, while the Steelers have just one.
The issue here is that each team is failing at executing its defensive identity. Both teams are getting pressure, but not finishing plays. What's most concerning for the Panthers is how much success opposing quarterbacks are having against the Panthers, something that can't be said for the Steelers.
Throwing against the Steelers and Panthers
Where does it go from here?
Both teams are in deep trouble. That's all there is. Talent is there on both rosters, but there is an inability by offensive coaches to harness it. Pittsburgh made a critical error when they parted ways with Mike Wallace, one of the team's primary weapons -- while the Panthers only have one real weapon on offense themselves.
Jerry Richardson got his wish. The Steelers and Panthers are in unison, but definitely not the way he envisioned.