View Full Version : opinions, please

10-11-2006, 09:51 PM
Firstly, this wasn't written by me, it was written by theconvictor at http://theconvictor.livejournal.com. Secondly, it's placed here for comments and opinions, because I thought it was fairly insightful and wondered what the rest of you might think.

And now...

What's wrong with the Steelers? When you start out 1-3, obviously there are a lot of things wrong. Big Ben has gotten most of the blame, and it's probably warranted. After all, Ben's been terrible this year (0 TD, 7 INTs, 41.7 Rating). He's been forcing balls into double and triple coverage. He's done his best Drew Bledsoe impersonation and held onto the ball way too long at times, taking 10 sacks in only 3 games (he was only sacked 23 times in 12 games last year and 30 times in 14 games the year before). He started off well in both the San Diego and Cincinnati games, but looked shaky for much of the game afterwards. However, all hope is not lost. The Steelers can still rebound and make the playoffs. After that, we know what can happen. Here's why the Steelers 1-3 start isn't as bad as you would think.

The Steelers Have Played Some of the Best Defensive Teams in the League<
Jacksonville, before injuries to Mike Peterson, Reggie Hayward, and Pat Thomas, was looking like they would be the most dominant defense in a league filled with some stellar units (Chicago, Baltimore, Denver, to name a few). Jacksonville played a lot like the Steelers used to by stopping the run, getting good coverage downfield, getting pressure on the QB, and playing physical, smashmouth ball. Indeed, Jacksonville's performance on that Monday Night was one of the most dominant defensive showings I've ever seen, and that includes all of many Steelers and Ravens games I've seen in the last few years. San Diego is also an excellent defensive team adept at stopping the run. Cincinnati isn't a great defensive team, but they do ball-hawk and get takeaways, which always makes them tough. The schedule doesn't get much easier with Denver, Kansas City and Baltimore still on the docket. However, there are some winnable games against Oakland, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay still to come. The Steelers have only played one division game, so if they get on a hot streak right when their division games start, then it's a whole new ballgame. Plus, we get Denver at home, which is always an advantage.

Troy Polamalu Has Not Been Himself
After having a monster opener against Miami, Polamalu has been battling an injured shoulder that made him a nonfactor in the next two games. You can see just how important he is to the team's defense because when he's healthy, it's one of the best in the league and when he's not, you have first-year QB's like Phillip Rivers carving up the secondary. Polamalu is important because he is so unpredictable. He'll frequently line up at the line of scrimmage, turn around to make it look like's going into coverage, then turn back around to make it look like he's going to blitz. He's so fast and powerful that the QB has to adjust the protection scheme to make sure someone's blocking him, and he's so quick that he can easily jump back into coverage and be effective (just ask Peyton Manning). Obviously, he isn't the sole reason why the defense has been successful over the last few years. However, he did give the defense that extra weapon which opposing offenses could never fully prepare for. In years past, the Steelers were so good at stopping the run that teams would just spread out their receivers and throw. Rich Gannon once threw 64 times in a 2002 game against the Steelers because he knew that was the way to win. Teams are starting to do that again because of our shaky secondary. However, it's not all bad news back there. Ike Taylor is developing in a "shutdown" corner (if that even exists anymore - nowadays if you even look at a receiver funny, you'll get flagged) and Ryan Clark has played well in his first year in Pittsburgh (and even made #1 on "Jacked Up" for his hit on Chris Henry during the Bengals game). Hopefully, when Polamalu returns to form, he should solidfy that secondary and give the defense a boost.

The Running Game Is Inconsistent
Say what you will about Jerome "You Want Me To Go 2 Yards? That's Pushing It" Bettis (by the way, I read somewhere that there might be some teams inquiring about whether Bettis might make a comeback later this year. There's no way. Not because he'd be betraying the Steelers. Not because he'd be ruining the perfect storybook ending. But because he's really let himself go. Bettis was always a big guy, but he's getting close to Charles Barkley level. Sterling Sharpe is huge too. I guess we know what station has the best pre-game buffet). But the man could move the chains. Willie Parker will break off a 40 yard run every now and then. But more often than not, he gets stuffed at the line for no gain. His yards-per-carry average looks respectable due to the long runs, but if you had 4th and 1 and had to go for it, would you trust Fast Willie with the ball? In fact, against the Bengals when Pittsburgh went for it on 4th Down, they had to run a misdirection play to Parker rather than just run it down the middle like they did with Bettis. Najeh Davenport, who is more of the power runner, had some solid moments in the Chargers game and should give the Steelers that big back that they need. The problem is that with Parker, they can't do what they usually do: Establish a lead, switch to ball control/kill the clock offense in the second half. Those days, where everyone knew the Steelers were going to run the ball down the middle and they still couldn't stop it, are long gone. Thus, they need Ben to play well at QB because he'll have to pass more in the second half than he's accustomed to doing. Which brings us back to Ben...

Ben's Problems Are Because of Rust
At least I hope so. We know he's not colorblind, so the picks are because he's struggling. Incidentally, Bill Simmons asked, recently, when did Ben Roethlisberger become just "Ben?" Surely he hasn't reached the level where he's only referred to by his first name - a la Shaq, Kobe, LeBron, or Peyton. Absolutely not. He's still got a ways to go before he's earned that right. I'm not sure about other people, by I use "Ben" because it's easier than writing out "Roethlisberger," which I misspelled 3 times before finally getting it right while writing this last sentence. As to Ben's problems, hopefully they aren't because he's much more psychologically scarred and damaged from his motorcycle crash than he's led us to believe. I didn't like how he curled up and braced himself when he was about to get hit in Jacksonville, essentially bailing out on the play even though he made the right read and had an open receiver. It reminded me of grade school when someone ****s his fist and threatens to hit you, but you immediately flinch before the other guy commits one way or the other. Well, that guy was entitled to two free punches because you flinched. Big Ben would have had to take 6 or 7 with the way he flinched on that play. It showed that he isn't quite all the way back, health wise, since in prior seasons, Ben would have stood in there and taken the hit if it meant that his receiver would have an extra split second to get open. Additionally, Ben didn't play much in the preseason, so these last few games have essentially been his preseason. Teams are doubling Hines Ward because they don't respect Cedrick Wilson and Santonio Holmes, taking away Ben's favorite and most consistent target. Ben has to step up and start playing well this week against KC. Otherwise, make way for Charlie.

Special Teams Haven't Been Special
Special teams have given up at least one big play in each of the last two games. Ricardo Colclough fumbled the punt return deep in Pittsburgh territory against the Bengals that turned the game around. The Steelers yielded a big kick-off return to the Chargers to open up the 2nd half, which led to the go-ahead score. Special teams have always been a weakness, and this year is no different. Without those two plays, maybe the Steelers are 3-1 or 2-2. Don't know why this is always a problem for the Steelers. They can't afford to use their starters on special teams, because you don't want them to get hurt. Maybe they just need Cowher to yell at them some more. Losing James Harrison is a problem as well. Hopefully, they'll get better as the year goes by. As frustrating as Antwaan Randle-El was at times, at least he gave the team a big-return threat every time he touched the ball. I don't see that in Santonio Holmes and Ricardo Colclough just yet. I've heard good things about Willie Reid. Maybe they should give him a shot.

It won't be an easy task given the fact that it's only Week 6 and the Steelers are already 3 games back in their division. However, after last year's amazing run, anything is possible. It's not over yet. Roseanne hasn't started singing yet...


AGAIN, not written by me! Please, thoughts, opinions, etc.

10-12-2006, 07:02 AM
Very good read, clarient.:thumbsup: I agree with most everything that this guy wrote, except for the comments on The Bus, which were a bit low considering the career he has had and the genuine person he is. The Bus isn't coming out of retirement....period.

10-12-2006, 08:11 AM
i think our running game is fine, if willie runs 25 times he can get 100 yards a game, but we run 30 times one week and 14 times the next. we need to keep the playcalling more balanced and under control.

10-12-2006, 08:21 AM
The thing I was most impressed with was the analysis of our running game, and how we seem to be pounding a square peg (Willie Parker) into a big round Bus-shaped hole. And I immediately saw in my head all those plays we tried to make in each game where we got stuffed for little to no yardage, and it made absolute sense.

I just hope our esteemed coach and his assistants come to the same conclusion soon and start trying to tailor new plays to the capabilities of the team we have this year.

10-12-2006, 01:11 PM
The thing is with willie if you constantly run him outside teams will prepare for that, if you constantly run him inside teams will prepare for that, but the quickest way to get into the endzone as a running back is to break the second layer of defense straight up the middle. If you can catch a team in a blitz and you are coming straight ahead, then you have a decent chance, especially with Willie, to bust a nice long run. I guess what i am trying to say here is that it is important that we run Willie up the middle, but we do need to mix it up and make sure we run some other plays. I would love to see him get the chance to do what some of the elite runners in the league do, the stretch plays. it seems they don't doa lot of zone blocking type of stretch plays and I think those would fit Willie's running style perfectly. It seems as long as you can be patient, a hole will open up in the line with the stretch and the defenders want to get into the backfield as soon as possible, giving you a good chance to use that againast them, allow them to overpursue and make a nice run with some of the more athletic players on defense at the same level as the running back before he makes his cut, which gives the win to the running back.

10-12-2006, 01:21 PM
"Surely he hasn't reached the level where he's only referred to by his first name - a la Shaq, Kobe, LeBron, or Peyton"

WTF!?? OHHH OKAY. Ben hasn't reached the level of being called Ben but Peyton Manning has reached the level of being called Peyton. :yawn: I guess all of those championships at Tennesee are a factor. Calling Ben "Ben" is logistical in nature - why type 45 syllables when you can get away with one.

I am not even close to being sold on Davenport. Firstly I'm not sure he'll make it past week 10. Najeh had a few good plays partly because of the element of surprise but if he starts to pound the ball for us...well I'll believe it when I see it. My money would be on a leg injury in the next few weeks but I hope I'm wrong.