The Steelers need this preseason to die after suspensions, injuries, lifeless defense

The Pittsburgh Steelers usually know how to do this regular season thing, finding ways to be productive from September to winter.

Let's just assume this atrocious preseason is -- what's a good euphemism? -- necessary adversity. Yeah, that's it.

Because if these trends continue, Steelers fans must call it something else.

A troubling trend, to be nice.

The Steelers' preseason couldn't get much worse, with Le'Veon Bell's suspension being reduced from four games to two about the only good news in recent weeks.

The injury to Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, the four-game suspension to Martavis Bryant and a sleep-inducing defensive performance Saturday against the Buffalo Bills all came in one nice and tidy week. And, oh yeah, the Steelers could be going on their third kicker in the last month after Garrett Hartley hurt his hamstring on a kickoff Saturday.

The Steelers should be able to score points this season. The temporary loss of one or two players won't derail that. For most of the season, the Steelers will have three top-25 playmakers handling the rock.

Defense was the question to enter the preseason, and its still very much the question the Bills suddenly went from no starting quarterbacks to three of them. The Steelers' pass defense had Rex Ryan feeling mighty fine about his embattled quarterbacks after they completed 23 of their first 25 passes for 304 yards.

Those passing lanes were as open as a 2 a.m. interstate. The Steelers are sitting linebackers into a zone, flaring out the safeties and letting mediocre quarterbacks pick them apart. The Steelers can hide behind the "hey, it's the preseason" approach, but this was ugly. And it wasn't the first time they let an un-established quarterback get his way. Blake Bortles got his, too.

The Steelers have correctable problems. They miss Lawrence Timmons (turf toe), who gets everything organized for the linebackers. Perhaps the Steelers will mix and match more pressures once the season starts.

But a 67-yard touchdown by H-back Charles Clay in the first quarter says it all. An H-back scored caught a 67-yard touchdown pass. Let that sink in. Both safeties flared to the sideline, leaving the deep-middle portion of the play uncovered. Linebackers didn't help enough, corners didn't chase enough, and suddenly Clay was all alone.

This wasn't the idea when the Steelers decided to revamp the defense.

The off day should be interesting.