View Full Version : Starters will get 1 quarter...

08-30-2005, 11:39 PM

Some coaches can watch a game tape and find plenty to be encouraged about. Not this time. There may be plenty right with a Steelers defense and a special teams unit that have combined for five touchdowns in three exhibition games, but there's been much wrong with the offense.

Ben Roethlisberger has looked like a rookie, not the quarterback who has yet to lose an NFL regular season game. Running backs Duce Staley and Jerome Bettis are hurt and are likely to miss the Sept. 11 opener against Tennessee. The wide receivers are missing nearly everything going their way _ at least when Roethlisberger isn't throwing too high or too long.

With the opener less than two weeks away, there's not much time to turn around a starting offense that hasn't scored a touchdown since the AFC championship game in January. Still, despite their myriad problems, the starters will play only the first quarter Thursday night against Carolina.

To Cowher, taking an inefficient offense into the season apparently doesn't worry him as much as playing his starters too long and getting someone hurt.

"It's a player here or a play there," Cowher said Tuesday. "We've had some good practices, but we haven't been able to transfer it consistently into games. We've done some things I feel good about, but at the same time it's not up to the standard this football team has set for itself."

Or, as he suggested, the standard Roethlisberger set during a rookie season nonpareil that saw him win his first 14 starts, counting one playoff game.

"We've done some good things throwing and catching in practice, but we're still trying to develop that timing, that rapport, that consistency," Cowher said. "Things need to get better and I think they will."

One problem is that wide receiver Hines Ward's two-week holdout forced Antwaan Randle El to practice at two positions, and the receivers are only now settling into the roles they'll play during the season. Cedrick Wilson, signed to replace Plaxico Burress, is dropping passes and, not yet in sync with Roethlisberger, is running behind Randle El on the depth chart. And, since he hasn't practiced much, Ward barely played in the two games he's been available.

As a result, Roethlisberger's statistics _ 14-of-30 for 121 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions _ are what might have been expected a year ago as a rookie. He's not entirely to blame for the offense's failings, but Cowher appeared to agree with a suggestion that Roethlisberger has fallen into some bad habits in practice he is carrying into games.

"You've got to make sure you pay attention to detail," Cowher said. "Sometimes you can get away with your own physical abilities and be successful, but at this level and in this league, you've got to be consistent. Ben's still a young quarterback. Last year when everything happened, we went week to week flying by the seat of our pants and just trying to get by. Now, there's no question his comfort level is there and he probably has more information than he had last year.

"He's going to be held to a very high standard, so you want to make sure he doesn't put any undue pressure on himself, just continue to grow as a quarterback and grow as a player," Cowher said.

Meanwhile, Bettis is holding out hope he can play next week, though that seems unlikely because of his strained right calf. If he can't play, former undrafted free agent Willie Parker will become the Steelers' fourth starting running back in as many season openers, following Bettis in 2002, Amos Zereoue in 2003 and Staley last year.

Bettis was hurt carrying out a fake on a play Friday in Washington, and he didn't know what to think initially.

"When I went down, I thought it could be pretty serious because I felt some pain in there," he said. "As the days have gone by, it's gotten better, so that's a good sign. ... But it's the type of injury that doesn't allow you to come back if it's not ready."

08-30-2005, 11:46 PM
This is more than I thought they would get. I thought they may only get a series or two. I am happy about this though. I think the passing game needs to work out the kinks they have been having.

08-31-2005, 12:02 AM
Im glad to see him sticking w/ them for the first quarter.. I'd imagine though depending on how it plays out, if we can get a couple good series in and move the ball, he'll pull them maybe even quicker...conversely if we dont see the ball much, he'll probably keep them in alittle into the 2nd maybe.

08-31-2005, 09:22 AM
They can use the extra work. Now going into the season opener with Parker running the ball he could use the exposure to the O line and get timing down better. It all helps.

08-31-2005, 09:29 AM
To me I think this is good news. I really didn't expect them to even get a full quarter...and they really need the work. I just hope our defense and special teams don't score like the first game, and give our offense some time with the ball. I hope the offense can get some chemistry going and they gainb the confidence that they need for Tennessee!

08-31-2005, 09:36 AM
Ben could use the work! But lets keep everybody healthy.

08-31-2005, 09:37 AM
I definitely want to see more out of the offense in this game. They haven't been very impressive so far this preseason.

08-31-2005, 10:04 AM
Maybe with Bettis and Staley sideline for the early part of this season, Big Ben puts up a record 50 td passes in the regular season after throwing none in the preseason? Hey, anything is possible. :D

08-31-2005, 11:21 AM
I wouldn't run Willie more than a series or two...we need him healthy for the regular season.Give Noah a bunch of snaps.I would pass a good amount...and run a good amount.More of a 50/50 mis or a 60/40 mix with the 60 being passing so they can try (and hope) to work out the kinks.

If Ben shows much improvment...I'll be super happy.

I wish he'd go back to lousy practices and good games instead of good practices and lousy games.