PITTSBURGH - If you think there's a problem with the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense, you're correct.
If you think veteran defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is the problem, you're incorrect.
It has become fashionable to blame LeBeau for the leaky defense, but the issue is personnel rather than schemes.
The Steelers don't have enough good players on defense. That could be remedied as soon as James Harrison and Troy Polamalu rejoin the lineup.
Take a look at the defense the Steelers put on the field for Sunday's loss to the Oakland Raiders. How many above-average NFL players were there?
Ryan Clark and LaMarr Woodley are the only two who meet that description.
The rest of the players are average, and an Oakland offense that isn't very good took full advantage.
It's only three games, but the Steelers haven't shown the ability to stop anyone's running attack. They haven't been able to pressure the quarterback.
Harrison and Polamalu are playmakers who are sorely missed. Put them back in the lineup, and maybe the Steelers can run some schemes that exploit their unique talents.
It's going to take that sort of trickery to make up for the ordinary performances the Steelers are getting from the rest of the defensive unit.
The offense has been holding a significant advantage in time of possession, which means the Steelers' defense isn't on the field that much. Yet they're still allowing big plays and plenty of points.
The offense probably can't score 31 points every week. Last week, that point total wasn't even enough to win.
The Steelers defense used to scare opponents. Right now, it's playing at a level that's scary for Steelers fans.
People are screaming for the Pirates to make major changes in light of their second consecutive fade over the last third of the season.
The ultimate responsibility lies with the players. How did James McDonald go from one of the best pitchers in the National League to being removed from the starting rotation?
There's a lot of heat aimed at general manager Neal Huntington, but he's the same person who put together a team that was once 16 games over .500.
Manager Clint Hurdle is a target, too, but this isn't a matter of motivation. It's player performance.
There's no easy answer.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org