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View Full Version : Without Parker and Smith, Steelers aren't championship-caliber.


SteelDogFan
12-23-2007, 10:08 AM
Without Parker and Smith, Steelers aren't championship-caliber
By Greg Cosell - SportingNews

Let's start on defense. In general terms, the philosophy of longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is this: Stop the run on early downs with physicality, put the opponent in long-yardage passing situations and then attack the quarterback with a wide array of blitz schemes and pressure packages. That has been the Steelers' defensive modus operandi for what seems like forever.
There's a progression to this approach, kind of like a mathematical equation. The basic theorem, the initial piece of the puzzle, is defending the run. That's where Smith comes in. In the Steelers' base 3-4 defense, Smith is the left defensive end. His job description is simple: Physically beat the offensive linemen in front of him and shut down the point of attack in the run game. It's grunt work, more grit than glitter, but the necessary foundation of all that the Steelers want to do.

Go back a couple of weeks to the Steelers' loss to Jacksonville at home, a week after Smith suffered his season-ending biceps injury. He was replaced by Travis Kirschke. The Jaguars ran 75 offensive plays in that game and controlled the ball for almost 38 minutes. I can't remember the last time an opposing team dominated like that in Pittsburgh. Jacksonville out-Steelered the Steelers. The game-winning drive in the fourth quarter was most telling: eight plays, six of which were runs. Three of Fred Taylor's runs on that drive, culminating with the 12-yard touchdown, went to the right, directly at Kirschke. He did not hold up.
That was a significant red flag for the Steelers' defense -- and it vividly revealed the value of Smith.

I know what you're thinking: The week before against the Patriots, the Steelers had Smith but did not have Polamalu, and they could not slow down Tom Brady and company. That's true, and just as troubling for Pittsburgh in a different way. The Patriots are unlike any other NFL team in terms of their offensive approach. They pass, not run. In fact, against the Steelers, they called 33 consecutive passes beginning in the second quarter. For a defense, the run-stopping element is largely irrelevant.

What must worry the Steelers is that they blitzed an excessively high percentage -- 37 out of 55 snaps, 67 percent -- and they did not sack Brady once. In fact, they did not force him to speed up his game or to misread a coverage. Overall, in the last four games, Pittsburgh has only two sacks.

Bottom line: The Steelers have significant defensive concerns, and the loss of Smith severely limits their core philosophy.

On the other side of the ball, it's my analysis of Roethlisberger that dictates my conclusion regarding Parker as the most critical piece of the offensive puzzle. I have studied Roethlisberger carefully over his four years in the league, and I am continually bothered by his maddening inconsistency.

That inconsistency results from his tendency to be impatient in the pocket, moving when it's not necessary. I can't tell you how many times I have seen Roethlisberger leave the pocket when there are no bodies around him. My sense is that he ultimately is not comfortable as a pocket quarterback. Talk to defensive coaches around the league and they will tell you that he struggles with coverage from the pocket.

Because of that, Roethlisberger has the playmaker mentality: Get outside the pocket, run around, make something happen. There's no question spectacular plays can be made that way, and Roethlisberger has authored many of those. He has great ability to maintain his focus downfield when he's on the move, and he throws the ball with excellent accuracy on the run. Those certainly are positive traits, ones that make him difficult to defend, but you can't be an elite NFL quarterback unless you are consistent week-in and week-out from the pocket. Roethlisberger is not.

The Steelers' offensive foundation must be the running game, and Parker gave them both the sustaining and explosive element. With him now out with a broken leg, the temptation will be to put the offense in Roethlisberger's hands. That would be a mistake.

Without Parker and Smith, the Steelers are not a championship team on either side of the ball.
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Rebutal

Even though his points are well grounded he neglets to state one of those out-of-the-pocket plays set up a TD in the SuperBowl and about 4 more helped get the Steelesr to the superbowl in the first place.

He also does not state the fact that the Steelers are a power running team first and have just adapted this style to compliment Willies style of running the ball. It will be nothing for the Steelers to go back to the way they ran their O when Bettis was there. As a matter of fact Rod Woodson said exactly the same thing. That the plus of having to use davenport more may end up helping the Steelers in the long run.
(i actually think they should have been using him like the Saints used Duce M).

As for the defense he does not mention the fact that Dick is one of the best minds in football and even if he has to go to four down linemen he will. The loss of Aron is a big one though I hope the other players can pick up the slack.

Glace
12-23-2007, 10:37 AM
Smith's loss is absolutely hurting us the most. He is one of the most unsung heroes in the entire NFL. My only question is Hoke. Hoke is a big run-stopper too and Hamp's backup....can he not be converted to a defensive end and let him knock some people around? It'd get him some valuable experience at end too, which obviously is thinner than we thought.

As far as the Parker - Davenport comparisons....Sure the offensive line likes a big back. There's nothing exotic. You just get off the ball and push straight forward and let the big back fall forward. I still think Willie is hitting the line before any holes have a chance at opening up.

You can do all the finger pointing you want at our supposed "flaws"....The measure of a championship calibur team is how they adapt and still find a way to win when the chips are stacked against them.

You can't just remove a few key players and immediately say that we're doomed.

Providence Steel
12-23-2007, 11:00 AM
Really...the Steelers have not been championship caliber all year. My hope is that each week they get better, learn more, execute better and with one week to go and a good defense awaiting them, they can do a lot for confidence by winning that game. Another win in the first game of the playoffs and then the sky is the limit. They have two weeks to peak and this past game was a good indicator of where they are. The season isn't over.

Michael Keller
12-23-2007, 11:33 AM
We are all looking for HOW CAN THE STEELERS GET IT DONE????? Just maybe and only maybe Davenport becomes the incredible sucess story of 2008 and the play offs. Davenport does have natural ability (size and speed) to shock the football world.

Other then then play of Ben and the difference a healthy Troy "MIGHT MAKE ' to a defense that appears to be getting weaker , not better. where do we place our hope going deep inot the play off. Bad weather or key injury(s) to a play off opponent it is hard to be overly optimistic. The play offs are great and we will probably be there so we do have a chance.

Elvis
12-23-2007, 11:46 AM
:tt02:
This is Tomlins' first season as head coach folks. I didnt expect him to come in here and win a Super Bowl this year myself. I wanted to see Big Ben come back strong, and he definitely has. And to see if Willie Parker is gonna be able to handle the load of a workhorse and for the most part... he has. I was worried about our O Line... and now I know why. I was also concerned about Troy Polomalu's concussions reoccuring.. and so far so good, but the last 2 seasons he has not been as electric as in the past. He made the pro-bowl this year on his reputation only. And then there is our FS position. I thought we had the answer there, but now I dont think that we do at all. All this said... we are still 10-5 and control our own destiny of winning our Division this year. This has been a successful season no matter how far in the play-offs we go in my opinion.

LambertLunatic
12-23-2007, 01:24 PM
I really don't think losing Parker is going to hurt that much. Parker's forte is his speed. Bad field conditions are likely in the playoffs, and that would have negated Parker's speed. Davenport's style is better suited for the playoffs in cold weather venues IMO.

As for the defense, again, I'm not worried. We held our own against the pats in the 1st half when we played them. The pats made halftime adjustments, but LeBeau made NO adjustments. Nor did he make adjustments in the jags game. My guess is that LeBeau is taking note of what adjustments these other teams are making while holding out on making his own. LeBeau has always been good at making adjustments. Do you really think he's forgotten how in the past month?

steel striker
12-23-2007, 06:17 PM
Well in 2005 not people thought we had a snowballs chance in hell of doing anything in the playoffs and we won it all. So we need our defense to step and play shutdown defense. Then we need our oline to protect Ben and run block then we will be okay.

Glace
12-23-2007, 06:27 PM
Well in 2005 not people thought we had a snowballs chance in hell of doing anything in the playoffs and we won it all. So we need our defense to step and play shutdown defense. Then we need our oline to protect Ben and run block then we will be okay.

You beat me to it...

But yeah...."No #6 seed has EVER won the Superbowl..."
Down goes Cincy
Down goes Indy
Down goes Denver
Down goes Seattle

BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!


It's funny to me....just like in 2005....if the Steelers did somehow manage to win it all....the broadcasters would say "The best team didn't go to the superbowl"

I remember broadcasters even saying how the superbowl wouldn't be a great show or a great "legendary" matchup because Indy wasn't in it.....They acted like we stole it. They talked as if they were 2 boxers and one got flashy at the end of a round to steal the round from the judges.....

We are looked down upon yet again.....and yet again, it is time to rise up and knock out the heavyweights!

TackleMeBen
12-23-2007, 07:02 PM
we just need other players to step up and take the place of smith and parker. if we can have that, then we have just as good as chance as anyone.. we all know the saying anything can happen on any given sunday

Haiku_Dirtt
12-23-2007, 08:24 PM
with them we aren't championship caliber :coffee:

Indy_Steelers
12-23-2007, 08:40 PM
Did this guy not see Davenport vs. the Rams? I know it was just one game but considering he had to come off the bench...he did well early in the season as well the few plays he was in. If I am not mistaken he was one of the top RBs early in the season, after three or four games, as a backup (in front of LT).

warddj86
12-23-2007, 08:53 PM
with them we aren't championship caliber :coffee:

That may be, but New England and Indy are the only two teams I think that are better than us, maybe Jacksonville, but San Diego isn't that good, and Cleveland is out first round no matter what.

:helmet:

Stlrs4Life
12-23-2007, 09:08 PM
Really...the Steelers have not been championship caliber all year. My hope is that each week they get better, learn more, execute better and with one week to go and a good defense awaiting them, they can do a lot for confidence by winning that game. Another win in the first game of the playoffs and then the sky is the limit. They have two weeks to peak and this past game was a good indicator of where they are. The season isn't over.


I agree. Smith is a huge loss.

Rhee Rhee
12-24-2007, 10:00 AM
with them we aren't championship caliber :coffee:

i havta agree.... the only championship caliber team these days is the patriots... but thats because they cheat.

Stlr4ever
12-24-2007, 10:59 AM
I really don't think losing Parker is going to hurt that much. Parker's forte is his speed. Bad field conditions are likely in the playoffs, and that would have negated Parker's speed. Davenport's style is better suited for the playoffs in cold weather venues IMO.

As for the defense, again, I'm not worried. We held our own against the pats in the 1st half when we played them. The pats made halftime adjustments, but LeBeau made NO adjustments. Nor did he make adjustments in the jags game. My guess is that LeBeau is taking note of what adjustments these other teams are making while holding out on making his own. LeBeau has always been good at making adjustments. Do you really think he's forgotten how in the past month?

Losing Willie is going to hurt us more than you realize. We need him when we play the likes of Pats. He actually did well in the NE. He can get the 'chains' moving so that the defense can have a little break. He can also catch the ball on screen passes and find gaps/lanes quickly. Look how well the Colts Joseph Addai did against the Pats. If they played well in the 4th Qtr. they could have beaten the Pats. Anyway, not having a 'big play' threat does give the opposing defenses an advantage. Having said that, I think our team can overcome the loss of Smith and Parker.

LambertLunatic
12-24-2007, 11:41 AM
Stlr4ever, I'm not saying that Parker isn't good. My argument is that with the field conditions that we can expect in January, a power back will be more effective than a speed back. We'll miss Parker in Indie and Arizona, but IMO will fare better with Davenport in New England and Pgh.

Dino 6 Rings
12-24-2007, 11:47 AM
One play at a time, one down at a time.

1st down, 3 yards. 2nd down 4 yards. 3rd down 7 yards.
1st down

All the way to the endzone, touchdown.

Defense.

3-out, or 5 and out, just get the ball back.

Do it again on offense.
Each play, each drive, each game. One at a time.

The 2nd season begins in 2 weeks and ANYONE in has a chance of being a Championship Caliber team.

steel striker
12-25-2007, 09:47 AM
Well there is not alot of people that think we have a chance and, that is good for us. It seems we play better when we are the underdog and, hopefully when we play the jags the real steelers defense will show up. The other thing that boils me a bit is the fact Ben has had a great year and, for the most part people just say we are a bad team. Well can you imagine if Ben had the time that Brady or Romo or even P. Manning? Records would be broken and, As you can tell I'm a huge Ben fan. I mean Ben has been running for his life this year and, still 32 Td and, Brady I bet has not been sacked more than 10 times. I still have faith in our guys to make another SB run hey it could happen remember 2005? Come on defense turn the ship around and, play steeler football. Now losing Willie & A. Smith are huge loses maybe Smith is larger because, what a good player he is. Parker hurts because, of his breakaway speed. Davenport will fill in nicely i still believe that and I guess time will tell. I really look for Holmes to be our big threat in the playoffs and, hopefully I'm right about that. Here we go Steelers here we go. :tt02::tt02::tt02:

Indy_Steelers
12-25-2007, 10:30 AM
Well there is not alot of people that think we have a chance and, that is good for us. It seems we play better when we are the underdog and, hopefully when we play the jags the real steelers defense will show up. The other thing that boils me a bit is the fact Ben has had a great year and, for the most part people just say we are a bad team. Well can you imagine if Ben had the time that Brady or Romo or even P. Manning? Records would be broken and, As you can tell I'm a huge Ben fan. I mean Ben has been running for his life this year and, still 32 Td and, Brady I bet has not been sacked more than 10 times. I still have faith in our guys to make another SB run hey it could happen remember 2005? Come on defense turn the ship around and, play steeler football. Now losing Willie & A. Smith are huge loses maybe Smith is larger because, what a good player he is. Parker hurts because, of his breakaway speed. Davenport will fill in nicely i still believe that and I guess time will tell. I really look for Holmes to be our big threat in the playoffs and, hopefully I'm right about that. Here we go Steelers here we go. :tt02::tt02::tt02:


I like Ben. What I do not like is that some fans think that he can do no wrong. Our o-line is not good but it is not that bad. I mean a RB & QB in the pro-bowl & the first play on offense in the Rams game was a deep pass from our own end zone for 80+ yards, that is not some thing most teams would do on first down from the four yard line. He does have the time. What he needs to do better is see the field and not hold on to the ball for 6-8 seconds. As a man that has played o-line in high school and at the semi-pro level we are taught that the QB should only have the ball for four or maybe five seconds. Half of the sacks we have are Ben's fault; however I am glad that they are not INTs. Throwing the ball away would have netted him a lot more passing yards. I do also wish he would run just a bit more. Defenses would have to respect his ability to run. I can not wait to see him in the second year of this offense. I think the offense needs more work but we are in the first year of a new offense. By the way, next time you watch Brady, Romo or Manning count how long they have the ball before they throw it.

Moonlite37
12-25-2007, 12:24 PM
Sometimes true Champions rise when most needed. I believe the Steelers have the talent within their ranks to do great things. We have to believe and more importantly, the Pittsburgh Steelers must believe in themselves.