Sports

First Call: Todd Haley has a specific concern about Steelers offense; Pat Narduzzi is convinced Kenny Pickett will be ready

Thursday’s “First Call” has a different take on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive woes than a former coordinator.

Pitt’s coach thinks his former QB can get the job done once he gets to play.

The Cleveland Browns are not doing well.

And the New York Yankees did something very unique by pitching Pirates.


They also

There is much to blame for the failures of the Steelers attack.

Coordinator Matt Canada and head coach Mike Tomlin take the time to design it. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky is criticized for how he runs it. The attack line is under attack because she doesn’t block better. And walking back Najee Harris is under a microscope for missing holes.

Former Steelers Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley believes that another position group should be critically examined. Those are the wide receivers. He referred to some of the synchronicity between the pass catchers and Trubisky as “sloppy” during a Tuesday performance on 93.7 The Fan.

“The biggest concern is the recipients,” Haley said Wednesday. “There is talent in it. For me if there’s one thing that stands out, it’s just not being on the same page with the quarterback [Mitch Trubisky] and recipients. That has to get better.”

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It’s an interesting quote because many have cleared the receivers of blame since Diontae Johnson made some clutch catches, Chase Claypool has been valuable in both the running game and the passing game, and George Pickens has only received six goals.

But Haley insists the receivers can do better.

“It’s something that needs to be cleaned up because if a quarterback isn’t confident that a guy will be where he’s supposed to be — when he should be there — then the quarterback will take the blame,” Haley said.

The Steelers Pass game currently ranks 28th in the NFL with just 344 yards in two games.


Calling for Kenny

Many Steelers fans want Kenny Pickett to be the Steelers’ starting quarterback now. His coach at Pitt, Pat Narduzzi, was on the “Jim Rome Show” Tuesday.

While Narduzzi wouldn’t go so far as to campaign for his former signal-caller to take over from Trubisky, he endorsed Pickett’s mentality and readiness for when the Panther alum’s number is called.

“I was lucky enough to take the (Pitt) team to the (Steelers) first game of the preseason,” Narduzzi said. “And he looked like a million bucks. I don’t think there’s any doubt that he’s ready. I think they’re looking for some maturity now and see how it goes. Mitch is a great quarterback and he will be fine. And Kenny will be fine when he’s ready. He’s done when they say, “Kenny, it’s your turn.” … When he is ready, he will embrace that and do a good job for them.”

Because Pickett didn’t play in the Panthers’ Peach Bowl game against the Michigan State Spartans, he hasn’t thrown a pass in an important game since the December 4 ACC Championship game against Wake Forest.


Down in the Dawg pond

The Cleveland Browns defense held a players-only meeting after the team’s 31-30 loss to the New York Jets.

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And before their game against the Steelers on Thursday night.

During Sunday’s loss, running back Nick Chubb scored on a four-yard touchdown run. That gave Cleveland a 30-17 lead with 1:55 left. Kicker Cade York missed an extra point.

Then Jets wide receiver Corey Davis caught a 66-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to narrow the Browns’ lead to six points. New York reinstated the onside kick. Flacco designed a 9-play, 53-yard drive that ended with a game-winning 15-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson.

“Before the full defensive meeting, we had a players meeting and we just talked about things, and I think the best thing about it, to be honest, people love that kind of thing,” defending defender Greg Newsome said on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland on Tuesday, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “There are teams that are used to that. We are not used to that and we see all the talent we have in the room, so things like that, it should hurt us and we should be angry about it.”

The Browns also nearly took a big lead against the Carolina Panthers the week before.

Maybe they’ll find it easier on Thursday night against the Steelers’ recently spoiled offense. Or maybe that’s the kind of defense the Steelers finally need to beat for multiple touchdowns in a game.


Questionable development

The New York Yankees hit another homerun with the bases loaded against the pitching of Pirates on Wednesday-evening. This time, it was Oswaldo Cabrera in the first inning of a 14-2 blowout by the Bucs in the Bronx.

That happened less than 24 hours after Giancarlo Stanton closed Tuesday’s game with a walk-off grand slam to win the game for New York in the bottom of the ninth.

When the Yankees defeated the Pirates 16-0 at PNC Park on July 6, Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge both hit grand slams. That means four grand slams in one season against the Pirates. The last time a Pirates pitching staff happened was in 2002 when Cincinnati Reds batters hit four grand slams in one season.

The Reds hitters that did were Jason LaRue, Todd Walker, Jose Guillen and Kelly Stinnett.

The biggest difference is that it took the Reds 18 games to take those four grand slams, the Yankees only needed four.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless otherwise noted.

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