Ward says miscommunication, uncertainty aiding Steelers' slump

Updated: October 29, 2003, 6:56 PM ET
ESPN

PITTSBURGH -- Everybody seems to know why the Pittsburgh Steelers are off to their worst start since 1988.

Plaxico Burress dislikes the predictable play calling. Coach Bill Cowher says players and coaches alike seem to be doubting themselves.

Wide receiver Hines Ward took those theories a step further Wednesday, saying there's miscommunication and uncertainty throughout a team that was one of the NFL's most balanced only last season.

Ward didn't offer any ready fixes -- he got into trouble by speaking his mind recently at a team meeting -- but said there is time to save the season. Even if it might not be much time.

"We have the same team that's went to the playoffs, that's been to the championship game," Ward said. "Somewhere we're not clicking, the defense, the offense, we're not jelling with one another. Within the offense we're not playing on the same page together. There's some miscommunication everywhere, throughout the whole picture.

"We have to find a way to get better and cut that out," he said.

Burress complained after Sunday's 33-21 loss Sunday to St. Louis that the offense was too predictable. Cowher seemed to support some of Burress' comments by saying that his assistants may have inadvertently stifled the players' aggressiveness by being tentative in their play-calling.

Rather than trying to pinpoint a single problem, Ward said, each player needs to do what he can do to get the Steelers out of a four-game losing streak that is their longest since they dropped six straight in 1999.

Ward also wouldn't criticize offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, saying he has taken the Steelers' offense "to where nobody thought we could go."

"You can't be worrying about what the next man is not doing, you've got to look at yourself," he said. "I can't worry about Plax, Tommy (Maddox) or the offensive line, I've got to go out there and see how I can get better, how we all can get better."

Ward also dismissed suggestions that veterans should take the younger players aside and talk to them. Ward was rebuked by some teammates after offering such advice recently at a team meeting.

"There's no sense to go out there and pep talk somebody," he said. "I think everybody on the team knows what we have to do right now."

Even if such a talk was necessary, Ward said, it wouldn't be him giving it.

"I don't want to be a deterrent to the team, a distraction to the team, I just want to go out there and lead by example," Ward said. "I've been getting myself in trouble by commenting, so I'm only going to worry about myself."

With the Steelers now in last place in the AFC North, they have no margin for error as they head into Sunday's game at Seattle (5-2).

Seattle is coming off a 27-24 loss at Cincinnati but is 4-0 at home. The Seahawks haven't started 5-0 at home since 1984, when they won their first seven home games and went on to finish a franchise-best 12-4.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index