The Steelers are headed to their bye week at the right time. The defense needs to get healthy, but most importantly an identity check is in order.

Most teams use the bye week for a mental break before they get back into the swing of things and focus on the next task at hand. Well, it would bode well for the Steelers to use every second of the bye week to their advantage.



The defense is struggling. There is no other way to put it.

Defensive end Cameron Heyward has missed the previous two games with a hamstring injury, but that didn’t stop him from opening his mouth following Pittsburgh’s 27-16 loss at Heinz Field against the New England Patriots.

“It was like we just quit,” he told reporters Monday. “I don’t mean to say that lightly, but I feel like we had so many opportunities out there. I felt like after that, it was almost like the wind got pushed out of us.”

Of course it’s easy to say that when you’re not out there yourself, but Heyward is the defensive leader, and his words carry some meaning.

Currently the Steelers defense ranks 28th against the pass and 17th against the run—due in part to giving up nearly 400 yards on the ground in the previous two weeks.

The defense hasn’t been able to stay healthy, and the secondary continues to have its issues.

Linebacker Ryan Shazier also sounded off on the defense.

“He’s a big guy, he’s a good runner, but we didn’t get blocks,” Shazier told reporters in reference to New England’s LeGarrette Blount. “We didn’t make tackles. Everyone is responsible. We have to hold each other accountable. We have to make sure we can be the defense we can be. Right now, we’re looking like garbage. This is terrible right now.”