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Steelers Commentary

Saunders: No Other Way to Say It, Steelers Got Out-Coached



steelers playoff Mike Tomlin looks on as the Steelers face the Ravens on Jan. 1, 2022 in Baltimore. (Mitchell Northam / Steelers Now)

HOUSTON — Perhaps feelings on this matter will change between now and the end of the 2023 NFL season, but as we stand here on the first weekend of October, the Houston Texans are not a good football team.

They aren’t even a good football team on paper. The Texans entered their Week 4 game with the Pittsburgh Steelers missing most of the players on their roster that any non-obsessed football fan had ever heard of before.

Laermy Tunsil? Out. Kenyon Green? Out. Derek Stingley? Out. Tytus Howard? Out. Denzel Perryman? Out. Tavierre Thomas? Out. The Texans entered play on Sunday with 13 players on either the injured reserve or PUP lists. 

And then they beat the hell out of the Steelers. I mean obliterated.

There was not a single area of Sunday’s game that the Texans did not dominate. Down to their third and fourth options at tackle, T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith were held without a sack. Steelers cast off Kendrick Green and a sixth-round rookie opened gaping holes in the Pittsburgh front for Dameon Pierce.

Another Steelers cast-off, Steven Nelson, helped hold George Pickens to 25 receiving yards, while Nelson himself intercepted Kenny Pickett. Pickett was sacked and eventually forced from the game by the combination of Jonathan Greenard and Jerry Hughes.

The Texans are a banged-up collection of young players and spare parts. They had no business playing with the Steelers, let alone running them off it.

Earlier in the week, first-year Houston head coach DeMeco Ryans was asked about Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. Ryans gave a great answer about the person that he sees as a mentor.

“I met Coach Tomlin when I was coming out as a rookie. He was with the Vikings in his first year as defensive coordinator with the Vikings. I remember sitting down in his office and he was giving me advice on as a rookie, how you come in and how you’re training. I remember he was telling me about how Derrick Brooks trained and giving me advice in that manner.

“Coach Tomlin is a guy that I’ve always looked up to. As a head coach in this league, you’re talking about a guy who’s been consistent. Never had a losing season, won Super Bowls. 

“He’s the epitome of what I want to be like. He’s a defensive head coach. They play a physical brand of football. They run the ball well. That’s how I see myself.”

Everything that Ryans said about Tomlin is true. But it’s based on what Tomlin has done in the past. The Steelers need him to be a great coach in the present. Instead, it was Ryans getting his young, inexperienced and unwanted players ready and putting them in better positions to win than Tomlin.

Tomlin is an all-time great. He’s 16th all-time in wins. Of coaches with at least 100 wins, he’s ninth in winning percentage. He’s won a Super Bowl and gone to another. There is already a niche on a wall in Canton, Ohio reserved for his likeness.

But an all-time great is not the same as a current one. The rent on that name is due every week, and right now, Tomlin is failing to deliver.

The Steelers were the more talented team on Sunday. They got their butts kicked. That shouldn’t happen with great coaching.