Steelers' mail: What has team most worried

August, 24, 2014
8/24/14
4:45
PM ET
Here is the latest Pittsburgh Steelers' mailbag. If you have a question please send to ScottBrown_ESPN with the hashtag #steelersmail.

And away we go...

@ScottBrown_ESPN Has to be the performance in Philadelphia given how lacking it was across the board. Not to minimize the stupidity and selfishness of Le'Veon Bell and LeGarrette Blount but let's be honest: They aren't the first players to get arrested and they won't be the last ones to get arrested. I don't think it has been or will be much of a distraction. The bigger concern is whether Bell and Blount will "get it" and toe the line moving forward. The more immediate worry for the Steelers is whether the one preseason games that matters -- and I realize that is a bit of an oxymoron -- is an indicator of how they will play this season. I may be more forgiving than others but I tend to give the Steelers a pass for one preseason game. I am going to need to see more before I fire Todd Haley and Dick LeBeau, cut Jarvis Jones and put Mike Tomlin on the hot seat after how bad the Steelers looked against the Eagles.

@ScottBrown_ESPN I'm with you Tony -- to a degree. I don't want to overreact to one loss in a preseason game but man some red flags were raised by the Steelers' showing in Philadelphia. It wasn't just LeSean McCoy who ran all over the Steelers. He left the game in the first quarter and the Steelers still couldn't stop the run. The Steelers didn't fare any better after Eagles starting quarterback Nick Foles, who threw for 179 yards and a touchdown and outdueled Ben Roethlisberger, gave way to Mark Sanchez. It would be a lot easier to dismiss what happened in Philadelphia if the starters on both sides of the ball had not played so extensively. But it was disconcerting to see the Steelers have such a bad game across the board with their regulars playing as much as they did. I will give the Steelers the benefit of the doubt -- for now.

@ScottBrown_ESPN I can't argue with you Bob. What does it say about how poorly the Steelers played when Troy Polamalu's voice is among the loudest of the defensive players who were shouting at each other on the sidelines in the third quarter of that game? That just doesn't happen, and it occurred in a preseason game no less. Also consider this when I asked Polamalu if the Steelers had game-planned for their third preseason game: "Not really," he said. "If we did I don't know that it would have mattered anyway." I will leave it at that.

@ScottBrown_ESPN Great question but Troy Polamalu is not primarily a cover guy and never has been. The Steelers presumably upgraded at free safety so Polamalu could continue in his current role and not take on more coverage responsibilities on the back end of the defense. No question that Mike Mitchell has been shaky. But let's let this thing play out a little bit before we question whether the Steelers' most significant offseason signing will be a liability on the back end of the defense. It is critical that Mitchell play well at free safety since it looks like Polamalu may be needed more in run support with teams averaging 4.8 yards per carry against the Steelers' in three preseason games.

@ScottBrown_ESPN I'm not ready to go there. Not even close. I think you need at least three years before you can evaluate a draft class and the players in it. That said, the Steelers expect Jones to make a big jump in his second season and there are no excuses for the 2013 first-round pick this year. He has had enough time in the Steelers' defense to play fast instead of thinking too much. Jones also had an offseason to get stronger, something that should also help him on the field. He did not play well in the Steelers' 31-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and Jones gets a little bit of a pass since he matched up against Jason Peters, one of the top left tackles in the NFL. But there is no question that he has to emerge as an impact player this season, and my biggest question with Jones is whether he will ever be a difference-maker on the Steelers' defense. I've just not seen it from him as a pass-rusher. He has also struggled against the run. 

Scott Brown

ESPN Pittsburgh Steelers reporter

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