The problems the Steelers face, to borrow one of coach Mike Tomlin’s favorite words, are obvious.
The solutions? Not so much.
Given an extra week to stew over the worst start in 45 years, Tomlin is tweaking the lineup hoping to find a spark that will help his team begin the long road back to respectability.
Defensive end Cameron Heyward will start on Sunday against the New York Jets. Embattled left tackle Mike Adams will sit. Kelvin Beachum and newly acquired Levi Brown will both get a look at Adams’ vacated spot. Rookie Vince Williams will line up alongside Lawrence Timmons at inside linebacker.
The moves are not an elixir, to be sure, but a step toward a fresh start for a team in desperate need a reboot following an 0-4 September.
“I like the attitude, demeanor and approach to work that the guys have taken,” Tomlin said. “That’s just part of the equation. Obviously, putting it together and producing victory is the most significant part of the equation.”
One the Steelers have failed to solve. They remain the only team in the league yet to create a takeaway. Their minus-11 turnover differential is second only to the even more hapless New York Giants (0-5), and their four sacks are dead last.
Heyward could provide a boost. The former first-round draft pick spent the first month of the season as the third man in a four-man rotation at end behind Brett Keisel and Ziggy Hood. While Keisel has looked downright spry at times at age 35, Hood continues to be a disappointment. Tomlin plans to keep Hood and Al Woods in the mix but believes Heyward has earned the right to get more snaps.
“I think he’s been really solid, not taking anything away from Ziggy,” Tomlin said. “Obviously, both guys will continue to play. We just want Cam to play more than he’s been playing and in order to ensure that, we’re going to put him in the starting lineup.”