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Flavell's Five Thoughts: It's Time for Steelers to Start Talking About Big Ben

The Pittsburgh Steelers biggest problem might be the one that's hardest to fix.

It's early in the season. However, this time last year, the Pittsburgh Steelers were celebrating a fourth straight win to kick off the season. Fast forward to a year later, and they're trying to answer questions as they dropped their third straight contest to the Green Bay Packers, 27-17.

The season isn't hopeless just yet, but panic is certainly starting to set in among Steelers faithful. Many pundits pegged the Steelers as a sub .500 team that would miss the playoffs. With each passing week, the prognosis seems bleaker and bleaker.

There's much to discuss. Let's talk about the Steelers, shall we?

Is It Time to Start Talking About Big Ben?

The last few weeks, one could argue most of Roethlisberger's poor play over the past few weeks could be attributed to the offensive line. While that is partially true, I believe the offensive line looked better Sunday than it has the past few weeks. Roethlisberger had a cleaner pocket and they actually opened a few holes for the run game.

Roethlisberger missed plenty of throws, including two intended for JuJu Smith-Schuster that likely would have resulted in an easy touchdown. Instead, Roethlisberger overthrew Smith-Schuster and cost the Steelers some points. He threw behind Najee Harris on a short toss over the middle in the fourth quarter. He made a few errant throws to Diontae Johnson.

Of course, we can't gloss over the throw to Johnson on the opening drive. The Packers jumped offsides and Roethlisberger threw it up to Johnson for a deep connection that resulted in the Steelers' first opening-drive touchdown in 14 games. That truly was one of Roethlisberger's few highlights of the game.

The fact of the matter is that Roethlisberger is 39-years old. He is beaten down and is two years removed from major elbow surgery. The line in front of him isn't all that good and he is getting hit more often than not. Even with sufficient enough time on Sunday, Roethlisberger looked like a quarterback closer to the end than anyone wants to admit.

At some point, you've got to start asking yourself what you want out of this season. Do you let Roethlisberger continue to get beat up and potentially leave an ugly lasting image on the way out? Do you bench him and potentially have an ugly ending to a long-standing personal relationship? Can Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins make the throws that Roethlisberger is missing?

It is a complicated situation that bears watching as the season wears on.

Harris, Smith-Schuster Look Good Despite Loss

Smith-Schuster did a solid job of getting open Sunday afternoon. He had his assignment beat on two would-be touchdowns that Roethlisberger missed. Smith-Schuster only had two measly catches for 11 yards. He was targeted eight times.

Smith-Schuster was clearly frustrated as he was caught on the sidelines spiking a video monitor on the ground. Cameras also caught him shaking his head in disgust throughout the contest. The chemistry isn't quite there at the moment but Smith-Schuster did a good job of getting separation. His quarterback has got to hit him in those situations.

Harris had a much more efficient performance on the ground Sunday as well. He averaged 4.2 yards per carry on 15 carries. There were more holes open for him today and he showed that he is absolutely capable of finding them. On a few occasions, Harris had been swallowed up by a sea of green and yellow but kept churning forward for extra yards. That is a welcome sign for the Steelers.

Defensively, the Steelers have Some Holes

I don't want to label the defense as overrated. I don't think that is the case. The expectations being placed on them after their past few seasons are rather lofty and I think it is leading to some disappointment.

They did a good job of signing Melvin Ingram to tandem with Alex Highsmith in replacing Bud Dupree. To lose Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Mike Hilton to free agency is still a blow to the defense. Stephon Tuitt hasn't played yet this season. Tyson Alualu looks to have his season ended due to injury. Devin Bush has been oft-injured. T.J. Watt missed a game and a half. They've been gashed.

At nearly full strength Sunday, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers had their way. With the way they're currently rolling, it was going to be tough to beat them if they got going.

It is to be noted that the Packers scored a touchdown following the strip-sack of Roethlisberger in the first half. They had less than half of a field to work with.

Joe Schobert dropping into coverage has been tough to watch. He has gotten beat on a few too many occasions. James Pierre hasn't quite been an adequate replacement for the departed cornerbacks.

Aaron Rodgers is an all-time great. Watching him shred the defense shouldn't be a cause for concern. He has one of the best receivers in the game as a safety blanket in Davante Adams. In fact, Rodgers only had 248 yards. He tossed two touchdowns and did not throw any interceptions. Efficiency like that from a Rodgers-led offense is going to get any given team beat most days.

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Offsides... Really?

This was obviously a huge swing in the game. Joe Haden and Minkah Fitzpatrick broke into the backfield on the Packers' field goal attempt with less than thirty seconds to go in the half. Haden blocked the kick and Fitzpatrick remarkably scooped it in stride and took it back for six points.

Or so the Steelers thought.

Flags were all over the field and both were called for offsides. Upon watching video replays, it was a very ticky-tacky call. Slow-mo shows that they quite literally moved as soon as the ball began moving. Typically, in live time, if two guys get into the backfield that easily on a kick, it means they jumped early.

It certainly bears being angry about as the Packers then converted on the short chip shot to end the half and went up 17-10 heading to the locker room. The score very well could've been 17-14 Steelers with the Packers getting the ball after half.

I'm sure the league will review it and admit their mistake much to the chagrin of Steelers faithful. The impact it could've had on the game will never be known. The momentum swing was large and certainly cost the Steelers something.

Time to Start Getting Freiermuth Move Involved

The selection of Harris in the first round met a lot of mixed reactions. Some were happy to get such a playmaker at the spot. Others felt there were more important holes to fill.

The Steelers then turned around and used their next selection on a tight end. Another selection, another group of mixed reactions.

I like Friermuth a lot and he is the type of big-bodied tight end that Roethlisberger loves. Sure, the offensive line could be better but Friermuth by no means should be seen as a negative choice at that spot.

Eric Ebron has had a case of the drops his entire career. Those have followed him into this season. Zach Gentry was a late-round pick three years ago and is a solid blocker but hasn't shown much in the way of actual offensive production. Friermuth is the top tight end of the offense. Maybe getting him more involved could help Roethlisberger get going a little bit.

We all remember the rapport Roethlisberger and Heath Miller shared over the years.

He deserves more of the target share, especially if the offense is going to continue to consist of short passes outside the hash marks.

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