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I-Want-Troy's-Hair
01-01-2008, 12:17 AM
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_545344.html

Steelers consider 'vanilla' defense :jawdrop:

By Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The word linebacker Clark Haggans used was "scorched."

He wasn't talking about Anthony Smith getting beat deep.

Haggans was talking about the Steelers' run defense.

Coach Mike Tomlin was talking about the same thing following the regular-season finale Sunday in Baltimore.

After watching Musa Smith and someone named Cory Ross blast repeatedly into the teeth of the Steelers' defense for six runs of 10 or more yards, after enduring an afternoon that saw Baltimore pile up 180 yards on the ground and average 4.5 yards on 40 carries, Tomlin coach spoke of resorting to a potentially drastic alternative in an attempt to rediscover competence against the run.

"We gotta get back to fundamentals and make sure we're in our proper gaps when we apply pressure," Tomlin said. "If we can't do a good job of that, then we need to play straight defense."

Straight defense?

For a Dick LeBeau-coordinated unit, the contemplation of such an approach was previously perceived as unthinkable.

Still, it's come to that for a defense that has allowed averages of 5.3, 6.0 and 4.5 yards per carry since losing defensive end Aaron Smith for the season to injury.

The Steelers didn't have strong safety Troy Polamalu in Sunday's 27-21 loss, either, but that was a precautionary measure.

Resorting to "straight defense" when Jacksonville returns to Heinz Field for the playoff opener Saturday night would be a reactionary one, perhaps even a desperate reach.

The Steelers don't play "straight defense."

The Steelers disguise, confuse, confound, pressure, attack and assault ball-carriers and pockets, seemingly with everyone and from everywhere.

At least that's what they do when they're at their best.

The problem is the Steelers haven't been that for some time.

The myth of their invincibility against the run was shattered when the exceptionally average Thomas Jones of the New York Jets snapped their streak of not allowing an opposing back to gash them for 100 yards at 34 consecutive games Nov. 18.

And when the Steelers can't make teams one-dimensional the way they used to, they become vulnerable.

They've been that for long enough now that the unit which remained No. 1 in the NFL in total defense after allowing 334 total net yards in Baltimore has become a question mark heading into the postseason.

Perhaps Tomlin's "straight defense" speculation was an attempt to scare his defense straight.

"If guys don't know what gap to get in, you just have to put them in their gap and tell them to hold it," cornerback Deshea Townsend said. "We're just going to have to go straight ahead, no movement."

Townsend had a simple characterization for playing defense in such a rudimentary fashion.

"Vanilla."

The Steelers vanilla on defense?

If it comes to that, why bother?

Tomlin held out hope that it ultimately wouldn't.

"I think these guys can get it corrected," he said.

If they can't, nothing else will matter against Jacksonville.

Ben Roethlisberger, Santonio Holmes and Heath Miller can't do enough to compensate for a defense that can't stop the run.

"It's not rocket science, and we're not rocket scientists," Haggans said. "We have the ability. We've shown it before. We just have to get back to that."

For the 2007 Steelers, it's now or never.

Steeldude
01-01-2008, 02:00 AM
haven't the steelers been playing a vanilla defense all year? you mean it can be even more stagnant? ugh!

MasterOfPuppets
01-01-2008, 02:07 AM
it doesn't matter what D you use when your constantly missing tackles...

The Steelers disguise, confuse, confound, pressure, attack and assault ball-carriers and pockets, seemingly with everyone and from everywhere.

i haven't seen much of this since the beginning of the season....:coffee:

Rhee Rhee
01-01-2008, 03:16 AM
it doesn't matter what D you use when your constantly missing tackles...



i haven't seen much of this since the beginning of the season....:coffee:

i agree... the injury to aaron smith is no excuse as to y we're playing so bad against the run

Galax Steeler
01-01-2008, 08:05 AM
Theres alot more wrong with our d then arron smith we are not playing like a unit.

Atlanta Dan
01-01-2008, 08:12 AM
Aaron Smith played in the Jets game = he is a very key player but it is more than that

Mosca
01-01-2008, 12:49 PM
If vanilla gets the job done, who cares? There's no pride in executing a chocolate fudge swirl scheme badly. Do vanilla, do it right, win, and move on to next week. I don't care. Maybe vanilla will intercept some passes and get some sacks, who knows. Because rocky road ain't gettin' it done.

Everyone in the media gets all worked up over the scheme. But on Sunday I saw 6 guys rushing 5 linemen and Troy Smith with all the time in the world picking the secondary apart. I saw guys beelining into tht backfield and whiffing on tackles as no-name running backs went for 9, 10, and 11 yards play after play.

It's not scheme; it was never scheme. It has always been execution. Execute vanilla right and win, and everyone is happy.

And really, that is something Cowher did. Several times. It is what he did in mid-season 2005. He went back to basics, got back the team's confidence in themselves, and then rolled into the playoffs.

MasterOfPuppets
01-01-2008, 02:02 PM
It's not scheme; it was never scheme. It has always been execution. Execute vanilla right and win, and everyone is happy.
thats it !!! its the same as with the oline...you either beat the guy in front of you, or you don't.

SteelDogFan
01-01-2008, 06:09 PM
The Steelers used to dictate that no offense would run the ball. I believe trying other things to stop the pass has taken away from stopping the run. What I think he was saying by the quote "straight defense" is stop the run first and worry about the pass next.

If the steelers go back to the aggressive style of slamming the run the defense will be fine. I believe Cower new the having hitting corners that the D would at times give up some big plays, but in the end shutting down the run would result in more wins than losses.

Dick may be trying some new stuff (since Tomlin has givin him some freedom) to slow down the oppositions passing game and in turn hurting the run stopping defense. I think we will see the defense flying around at the point of attack and shutting down the Jags run.

One would hope that the Jags do not take a page from the Steelers playbook in 2005 play-offs. If they come out and call play-action pass they may hit some huge plays in the passing game.

fansince'76
01-01-2008, 08:20 PM
One would hope that the Jags do not take a page from the Steelers playbook in 2005 play-offs. If they come out and call play-action pass they may hit some huge plays in the passing game.

I think that would work to our advantage - this is going to be Garrard's first playoff game as the starting QB. The only reason Ben won his first playoff start is because the Jets had a kicker who couldn't make a chip shot FG, and I don't think I have to remind anyone how Romo's first playoff start went.