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lamberts-lost-tooth
12-18-2007, 05:59 AM
Steelers plagued by tackling problems
By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, December 18, 2007


All Mike Tomlin needs to do to get the attention of his defensive players is to show them tape from the Steelers' 29-22 loss to the Jaguars -- and then show them film of Steven Jackson.
Jackson is one of the best running backs in the NFL, and he just happens to play for the Rams, the Steelers' next opponent.

"They've got a running back capable of doing what Fred Taylor did to us," Tomlin said Monday at his weekly news conference.

Taylor gashed a reeling defense for 147 rushing yards and a touchdown Sunday, raising numerous questions such as, why are the Steelers suddenly struggling with basic tackling, and how do they fix the problem?

"I wish I had something profound and interesting (to say). I don't," Tomlin said. "We've got to tackle better."
That needs to start Thursday night in St. Louis, where the Steelers play the Rams.

Jackson is big and physical, and the 6-foot-2, 231-pounder is a more-than-capable receiver out of the backfield. He has come on after a slow start to the season and is averaging 105 rushing yards in the Rams' last four games.

The Steelers, meanwhile, have regressed when it comes to defending the run.

They have allowed two running backs to rush for more thasn 100 yards in their last five games after not allowing a 100-yard rusher during a streak that spanned 34 games.

The Steelers no doubt miss defensive end Aaron Smith, who is out for the season with an arm injury, but Tomlin likes excuses as much as he does penalties against his team. Plus, the absence of Smith doesn't explain the tackling by the Steelers in the loss Sunday, which could best be described as shoddy.

"We weren't tackling bad at the beginning of the year, so it shouldn't be a problem now," inside linebacker James Farrior said. "I think it's more mental than anything. It's getting late in the season, guys' bodies are beat up, they're tired, and you lose a little bit of focus when you've got all of those things and we've just got to get back to focusing."

It's not like the Steelers, who could be without starting outside linebacker Clark Haggans and defensive end Travis Kirschke against the Rams because of injuries, have many options.

NFL teams don't tackle during practice because of the risk of injury (among other reasons), so the Steelers can't really simulate that aspect of the game.

One veteran Steeler said players are able to hone their tackling skills in the days leading up to a game by making sure they are in good position to make a tackle when they are scrimmaging.

"As long as you take the proper technique, you don't (have to) take the guy to the ground," safety Tyrone Carter said on how players can work on tackling in practice. "You've got to get yourself in position to make the play."

Tomlin agreed.

"So much of tackling is being in proper position," Tomlin said, "but it's nothing we can't solve, to be quite honest with you."

That the Steelers have problems that need to be solved on defense this late in the season is perplexing. It's also a source of frustration to the coaches and players.

"When you work hard and teams don't outplay you and give you give them everything they got, that's the hurting part because they didn't earn it; we gave it to them," Carter said. "For the past two weeks that's what we've been doing. We've got to find answers."

Notes: The Steelers probably will be without starting left tackle Marvel Smith when they play the Rams. Smith left the game in the fourth quarter and didn't return because his back was giving him trouble. ... LaMarr Woodley will start at left outside linebacker if Haggans doesn't play, and Max Starks will start at left tackle if Smith is unable to go. ... The knee injury that forced cornerback Ike Taylor to leave Sunday's game in the fourth quarter is believed to be a minor one, Tomlin said. ... Strong safety Troy Polamalu and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are expected to be fine for the game against the Rams. Polamalu had missed three consecutive games with a knee sprain before making 10 tackles against the Jaguars. Roethlisberger has been nursing a sore (throwing) shoulder, and he got planted on it several times by the Jaguars.

br7
12-18-2007, 06:29 PM
I have not seen a steeler team tackle this bad since chucks last season as coach!

Preacher
12-18-2007, 07:13 PM
You know,

I just come back to the fact that this team is acting like it is old.

Stu Pidasso
12-18-2007, 10:01 PM
I said this about 6 weeks ago and got flamed for it, but here goes:

Troy, even though he had 10 tackles, completely whiffed on about 30 of them. He is continuing to overpursue runs, getting beat on pump fakes, and he's tackling with his head down. He's got to focus, lift some weights, and get back to his old self.


As for the other players on defense, they really should be ashamed. These guys are professional football players. The FIRST thing you learn when you're 7 years old in peewee ball is wrap and tackle. For the love of Pete, it's the sim plest thing to do: Keep your head up, wrap with both arms, and follow through the player.

It seems nobody in the NFL tackles anymore. They'd rather give up an extra 7 yards trying to strip the ball than to just stop the runner. It's getting seriously bad.

Preacher
12-18-2007, 10:15 PM
I said this about 6 weeks ago and got flamed for it, but here goes:

Troy, even though he had 10 tackles, completely whiffed on about 30 of them. He is continuing to overpursue runs, getting beat on pump fakes, and he's tackling with his head down. He's got to focus, lift some weights, and get back to his old self.


As for the other players on defense, they really should be ashamed. These guys are professional football players. The FIRST thing you learn when you're 7 years old in peewee ball is wrap and tackle. For the love of Pete, it's the sim plest thing to do: Keep your head up, wrap with both arms, and follow through the player.

It seems nobody in the NFL tackles anymore. They'd rather give up an extra 7 yards trying to strip the ball than to just stop the runner. It's getting seriously bad.

If they were trying to strip the ball, I would be happy.

Its the trying to get on ESPN with a big hit that kills me.

Atlanta Dan
12-18-2007, 10:17 PM
You know,

I just come back to the fact that this team is acting like it is old.

I agree - the front seven have been the strength of the D and it is slipping - the DL is about where the OL was in 2004-05 - cracks are starting to show.

In training camp I think either Timmons or Woodley were expected to see major minutes by now - other than Harrison no other LB is having such a good year that it should force the top 2 picks to stay on the bench. Woodley has been hurt - I do not know what the story is with Timmons - being from Florida State he may not be real good at picking up multiple defensive formation responsibilities that require more than sheer athletic talent. I was not wild about the Timmons pick on draft day and have seen nothing to alter that initial opinion.

But change is coming - his performance since the bye will make it easier to cut Haggans loose and I am not confident Foote starts again next season.

Preacher
12-18-2007, 10:27 PM
I agree - the front seven have been the strength of the D and it is slipping - the DL is about where the OL was in 2004-05 - cracks are starting to show.

In training camp I think either Timmons or Woodley were expected to see major minutes by now - other than Harrison no other LB is having such a good year that it should force the top 2 picks to stay on the bench. Woodley has been hurt - I do not know what the story is with Timmons - being from Florida State he may not be real good at picking up multiple defensive formation responsibilities that require more than sheer athletic talent. I was not wild about the Timmons pick on draft day and have seen nothing to alter that initial opinion.

But change is coming - his performance since the bye will make it easier to cut Haggans loose and I am not confident Foote starts again next season.


True. Thing is, we saw Timmons actually play in coverage in the pre-season. I was fairly impressed. I am hoping that Timmons comes along nicely, I haven't seen anything that makes me NOT happy with Timmons either. He has been pretty dang good on ST. But I am sure you would agree with me that ST and playing every down is a big leap.

I wonder if it is time to put the new guys in starting next season, pick up someone like Dansby and start him as well, pick up a couple Oline players in the draft, and build for a number of SB runs in about 4 years.

Atlanta Dan
12-18-2007, 10:33 PM
I wonder if it is time to put the new guys in starting next season, pick up someone like Dansby and start him as well, pick up a couple Oline players in the draft, and build for a number of SB runs in about 4 years.

The fan base will not like it but the Rooneys are one of the few owners who will give a second year coach the luxury of building that season for success in the 4th and 5th years of his tenure - this current team is leaking oil and needs a major rebuild.

Preacher
12-18-2007, 10:36 PM
The fan base will not like it but the Rooneys are one of the few owners who will give a second year coach the luxury of building that season for success in the 4th and 5th years of his tenure - this current team is leaking oil and needs a major rebuild.

I gotta agree....

Don't you wish congress could work out their differences like us?

:wink02: