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BB2W
07-10-2005, 05:31 PM
By Zac Jackson, Staff Writer
July 7, 2005



BUILDING BLOCKS

A 22-year old quarterback who won 14 straight starts is a pretty good building block. Ben Roethlisberger had a pretty good supporting cast, too, and the Steelers offense should be able to pick up where it left off - even with the free-agency departure of big-play receiver Plaxico Burress. The Steelers' stable of running backs is as deep as any in the league, Hines Ward is one of the league's premier receivers, and rookie tight end Heath Miller has rare athleticism and great hands.

Pittsburgh's swarming defense sent four players to the Pro Bowl last year. Third-year safety Troy Polamalu is a rising star, while linebackers James Farrior and Joey Porter are steady veterans. Farrior is coming off the best season of his career.

2005 FIXES

It's tough to fix 15-1, but folks in Pittsburgh will be happy with nothing less than the Super Bowl.

The Steelers secondary has been susceptible to the deep ball in the past - if the aggressive blitzers don't smash the quarterback first. Look for second-year corner Ricardo Colclough to play a bigger role this season and provide a boost in speed.

Roethlisberger is sure to see a lot of different looks from defenses this season, so he'll have to adjust and be fully comfortable with his receivers. One way the Steelers can combat those different looks is to use the same formula that worked last season: Run the ball efficiently and build an early lead.

IN THE TRENCHES

With veteran leadership provided by center Jeff Hartings and left guard Alan Faneca, Pittsburgh has one of the league's best offensive lines. Marvel Smith returns at left tackle after a Pro Bowl season, but there are new faces on the right side.

Kendall Simmons missed all of last season with a knee injury, but he's slated to return and take over for Keydrick Vincent at right guard. Second-year man Max Starks takes over at right tackle for Oliver Ross.



Inside linebacker Kendrell Bell is gone to Kansas City via free agency, but the Steelers return a rugged and experienced front seven. Underrated defensive end Aaron Smith shared the team sack lead (7) with Porter last season. Nose tackle Casey Hampton, one of the game's biggest and best at his position, is expected back after missing most of last year with a knee injury.

NEW FACES

Starks has good size and got experience playing in goal line and short-yardage situations last year. He'll need to mature quickly for the Steelers to run the ball - and protect Roethlisberger - like they did last year.

Miller's presence makes Roethlisberger and the Steelers even tougher to defend inside the red zone. Receiver Cedric Wilson was signed after Burress went to the Giants; he'll compete for playing time with Antwaan Randle El opposite Ward. Fourth-round pick Fred Gibson has good size and might also be in the mix.

Second-round pick Bryant McFadden will have the opportunity to compete for playing time in the secondary. Third-year man Ike Taylor will also push for an expanded role.

Bell missed a lot of time due to injury, so Larry Foote is closer to a returning starter than a new one. Fifth-round pick Rian Wallace could push for playing time at linebacker.

FIVE KEYS TO SUCCESS

1. A dominant offensive line helped Roethlisberger and set the tone for the Steelers success last year. More of the same is expected.

2. Run, run, run. Duce Staley leads a deep stable of backs; the power running game also opens things up in the passing game.

3. Solid play from the secondary. After what Tom Brady and the Patriots did to Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game, expect this year's opponents to try the vertical passing game early.

4. Spread the ball around. Especially when Roethlisberger leaves the pocket, the Steelers at times have too many weapons to defend.

5. Handle success. After last year's run the Steelers are marked men. 15-1 is almost unfathomable, and the competitive AFC North promises many challenges.

http://www.clevelandbrowns.com/news_room/news/arts/4369.0.html

clevestinks
07-10-2005, 07:31 PM
I was reading in the Cleveland paper today, that the brownies are upset because they are 40-1 in Vegas odds. Which is worse in the NFL. The over under on them is four games, the same amount they won last year. Vegas has no faith in them. LOL

Prosdo
07-11-2005, 10:35 AM
Nice find BB2W. The five keys are good. I know a strong offensive line is high on my list.

Bamataco1
07-11-2005, 11:15 AM
That annalysist is pretty good the only problems I see with it is they didn't take into account that Bettis and Duce are the oldest starting and backup tailback combo in the NFL.
And the sophmore jinx that affects many NFL qb's.

bigbensgirl7
07-11-2005, 03:43 PM
That annalysist is pretty good the only problems I see with it is they didn't take into account that Bettis and Duce are the oldest starting and backup tailback combo in the NFL.
And the sophmore jinx that affects many NFL qb's.
I agree the annalysist did a pretty good job. I don't see the problems about what you have commented on for this reason. Yes, the Bus and Duce are old, but these old guys lead the #1 rushing team last year, and I don't see anything changing with that this upcoming season, I would see it affecting us down the road...but these guys held their own on the field!
About Ben and the "sophmore jinx" If we only relied on Ben to get it down I might be worried, however as stated in many threads we are not a one man team, we are surrounded by talent and we win games as a team.

BlitzburghRockCity
07-11-2005, 07:16 PM
Bettis doesnt play at his age, he's still as light and quick on his feet as he has been in years.. Duce may have been in the league for 8 seasons, but he doesnt have that much wear on him, since he wasnt a full time starter most of the time.

Prosdo
07-11-2005, 08:12 PM
Bettis doesnt play at his age, he's still as light and quick on his feet as he has been in years.. Duce may have been in the league for 8 seasons, but he doesnt have that much wear on him, since he wasnt a full time starter most of the time.

Good point Blitz. Bettis proved in 2004 that he still had it. Duce should be fine. If one of them is out Verron Haynes is still there to help out.

CowherLover
07-12-2005, 03:00 PM
Everyone remembers Willie Parker, right? Just as was pointed out earlier also, Staley didn't get the attempts elsewhere that he's going to get here. He'll be good to go barring any crazy injuries. Good to chat with you guys again. I've been missing all of the comraderie from this site!

Stlrs4Life
07-15-2005, 11:10 PM
I would also like to see more of Willie Parker than Verron out there.