The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team with a record somehow above .500 and vibes decidedly below .500.
The team’s recent woes were further detailed in a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday, in which Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick were alleged to have gotten into a heated argument following last week’s loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Against the Browns, Johnson had continued a slow start to the season with only two catches on eight targets for 16 receiving yards in a 13-10 loss. The 27-year-old was reportedly upset on the sideline and got in another heated conversation with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.
The situation further devolved when Johnson allegedly began “chirping” at the Steelers coaching staff in the locker room, at which point Fitzpatrick stepped in.
Veterans Cameron Heyward and T.J. Watt reportedly broke up the altercation between Pro Bowlers and lectured the team on the importance of sticking together, eventually restoring order.
The news isn’t out of place of what we’ve seen lately from Pittsburgh, which is in the middle of one of the NFL’s most bizarre seasons this year.
The good for the Steelers is they are 6-4 and hold a playoff spot as of Saturday. The bad is nearly everything else. Entering Week 12 of the season the Steelers have yet to out-gain an opponent, making their above-.500 record an unprecedented accomplishment.
The Steelers defense hasn’t been much to write home about, ranking 24th in the NFL in yards allowed per play (but third in takeaways), but the offense’s struggles are the ones generating headlines. The team fired long-maligned offensive coordinator Matt Canada after the Browns game and questions remain around the long-term viability of former first-round quarterback Kenny Pickett.
Johnson hasn’t even been the only player openly frustrated with the offense, as starting running back Najee Harris vented to reporters about unseen issues on Sunday:
“Is it fixable? Yeah,” Harris said. “Are we going to fix it? S***.
“I just don’t know what to do. I just feel like I’m stuck in this situation where I don’t have an answer to it.”
We’re at the point where George Pickens’ extracurricular activities on social media already feels like ancient history.
It still might not be too late for the Steelers to fix the rot hiding behind their record, but they’re facing a major inflection point this week now, with a road matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals scheduled for Sunday.