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mesaSteeler
11-13-2008, 09:59 PM
Truly Offensive: Fixing the Pittsburgh Steelers' Offense, Part One
by Chase Kenderes
http://bleacherreport.com/articles/80867-truly-offensive-fixing-the-pittsburgh-steelers-offense-part-one

Ask any Pittsburgh Steelers fan and they'll tell you something is wrong with the Steelers' offense. Some claim they've lost their identity by abandoning a power run game, others think injuries have plagued the team. Some still will insist it's Bruce Arians' fault, and others want to bench Ben Roethlisberger.

But sometimes fixing a sputtering offense midseason is a Herculean task.

If it was an easy fix the Steelers coaching staff would have targeted the problem and fixed it. Thus far in the Mike Tomlin era he has been known to fix problems when he finds them.

He took one of the league's worst pass defenses for years and helped turn them into the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL. He took an awful punt and kick coverage unit and turned it into a team strength. So why hasn't he been able to fix the sputtering offense?

Perhaps because the biggest problem can't be fixed in 16 weeks.

Opening the season any knowledgeable Steelers fan would tell you that the biggest problem with the Steelers team, their biggest weakness, would be their offensive line. Though Larry Zeirlein's zone-blocking scheme has been better received now that malcontent Alan Faneca is off in New York, one could argue that it's not the best scheme to fit not only the Steelers offensive line, but their offensive scheme.

The Steelers' offensive linemen are not smart, finesse guys. They are maulers. Put in place by Bill Cowher and Russ Grimm to do one thing well: line up and destroy people in the run game. Under Cowher's offensive philosophy this worked out well. The Steelers were a run-first team who lived and died by running the ball on offense.

Under Bruce Arians, the Steelers identity has began to shift. The offensive coordinator who once spoke of how much he loved to run the ball has seemed to abandon the run all too quickly at times. Though that could come down to personnel.

Steelers starting right tackle Willie Colon has been nothing short of awful in his stint as a starter. Colon may show small flashes of brilliant play every once in a while but those flashes will be quickly forgotten when he is penalized three times on one drive for holding a defensive end half his size in order to keep from getting beat.

Former backup Darnell Stapleton has played well since being given the opportunity after the appropriately nicknamed Kendall "Ken doll" Simmons was lost for the year with an Achilles injury. Stapleton doesn't win many battles but draws enough stalemates to be effective.

Center Justin Hartwig has been perhaps the lone bright spot of the Steelers' O-line in 2008. Though he still has problems executing a shotgun snap, he is such an improvement over last year's center Sean Mahan that his poor snaps can be forgotten. Hartwig doesn't have the pedigree to live up to the Steelers tremendous tradition of elite centers, but he's good enough to get the job done.

Enigmatic left guard Chris Kemoeatu had the unenviable position of taking over for All-Pro Alan Faneca. Kemo has been a mystery for the Steelers this year. His play has been up and down all season. Sometimes he will look great, other times it looks like he doesn't even know the first thing about being a guard in the NFL.

At left tackle stood for the first part of the season the veteran of the Steelers offensive line. Oft-injured Marvel Smith, along with Kendall Simmons, was one of two remaining members of the 2005 Super Bowl winning offensive line. Though injuries have taken a toll on Smith's body over the years, he looked rejuvenated in 2008.

Playing for a contract after the season, and coming off back surgery it looked like Smith was set to have a career year. But once again injuries took their toll and he had to be replaced in the lineup by the Steelers $7 Million Man, Max Starks.

Starks hasn't been an upgrade over Smith this season, but with only a few games under his belt thus far this season Starks' grade is still incomplete. Though he will be likely signed in the off-season by the Steelers as they let Marvel Smith go into free agency, Starks has not had the time to prove that he is the Steelers left tackle of the future.

Then again, perhaps the biggest problem plaguing this Steelers team is that their offensive line has not yet had the time to truly gel. Injuries, new starters, a new blocking scheme, and youth combine to form a Steelers line that, like iron freshly removed from a blast furnace needs to be molded and made into something different: an offensive line more on par with the Steelers tradition, and one that will be more of a strength than a weakness.

Knowing what Mike Tomlin has done in just two seasons as Steelers head coach, it's a safe bet that the offensive line too will be fixed. It's just a matter of time.

Godfather
11-13-2008, 10:14 PM
It doesn't help the offense when it's riddled with injuries. Willie, Mendenhall, Carey...that leaves MM to do it all by himself, which wears him out.

Preacher
11-13-2008, 11:50 PM
You know, I really do like this article as it makes complete sense.

Give it time, the line will be straightened out.

tony hipchest
11-14-2008, 12:07 AM
Give it time, the line will be straightened out.
one would think (or hope) that with the drafing and development of starks, kemoeatu, essex, and colon, the o-line problem would already been solved.

tomlin made it a mission to correct the special teams (which he has done), improve the steelers pass rush and sack total (phenominal).

i have no doubt our o-line problems will be corrected.

i have faith in tomlin to carry through.

Preacher
11-14-2008, 12:28 AM
one would think (or hope) that with the drafing and development of starks, kemoeatu, essex, and colon, the o-line problem would already been solved.

tomlin made it a mission to correct the special teams (which he has done), improve the steelers pass rush and sack total (phenominal).

i have no doubt our o-line problems will be corrected.

i have faith in tomlin to carry through.

Yep... I also notice that the author talked about the transition of the line from one style of ball to the other.

He really does make sense.

The Duke
11-14-2008, 01:17 AM
Now that's a good article. Chase Kenderes :hatsoff:

Unlike thing's I've read about how the team sucks and won't sniff the playoffs, this guy really knows what he is talking about

Just one thing though, titles that say " offensive" when talking about how bad an offense is are getting kinda old. maybe it's just me.....


i have no doubt our o-line problems will be corrected.

i have faith in tomlin to carry through.

Yeah, we just gotta trust. He's really made some changes in less than two years here, and has given us no reason to believe he can't handle it

Steeldude
11-14-2008, 01:18 AM
i saw a stat showing the steelers are the worst team at converting 3rd and 1. on the twelve 3rd and 2 situations, the steelers have encountered, they have chosen to pass, rather than run, on 11 of them.

Galax Steeler
11-14-2008, 04:42 AM
Lets see if Tomlin can get it fixed hopefully by the start of next year we will have a great offensive unit but I hope it atleast improves this year.

Steelers & I
11-14-2008, 05:34 AM
i saw a stat showing the steelers are the worst team at converting 3rd and 1. on the twelve 3rd and 2 situations, the steelers have encountered, they have chosen to pass, rather than run, on 11 of them.


Absolutely agree on that.

I'm just wondering why the Steelers haven't created a few plays with Dennis Dixon in mind. Seeing how they like to use a 4 WR package on 3rd down with 2 or 3 yards needed for the 1st down, I believe that inserting Dennis Dixon into this package as either the QB, or RB would open several more options for the Steelers.

Dixon could possibly take a direct snap at the RB position, or run a QB middle draw from the shotgun position, QB sneek it from under center, hell they could even give the Wildcat formation a try.

I don't know? I really expected that the Steelers would create a few plays which take advantage of Dixon's athletic ability. At this point, anything would be better than the usual running play being STUFFED, or the incomplete pass, or worse yet, THE QB SACK!

BIGBENFASTWILLIE
11-14-2008, 05:45 AM
Absolutely agree on that.

I'm just wondering why the Steelers haven't created a few plays with Dennis Dixon in mind. Seeing how they like to use a 4 WR package on 3rd down with 2 or 3 yards needed for the 1st down, I believe that inserting Dennis Dixon into this package as either the QB, or RB would open several more options for the Steelers.

Dixon could possibly take a direct snap at the RB position, or run a QB middle draw from the shotgun position, QB sneek it from under center, hell they could even give the Wildcat formation a try.

I don't know? I really expected that the Steelers would create a few plays which take advantage of Dixon's athletic ability. At this point, anything would be better than the usual running play being STUFFED, or the incomplete pass, or worse yet, THE QB SACK!


i agree, however, the steelers are not putting themselves in position to be running trick plays. They are having a hard enough time moving the ball with "real plays", so any trick play gone wrong could be devistating

Steelers & I
11-14-2008, 05:52 AM
i agree, however, the steelers are not putting themselves in position to be running trick plays. They are having a hard enough time moving the ball with "real plays", so any trick play gone wrong could be devistating


Now, now, remember the flea flicker last week? I do agree, I wasn't actually calling for Dixon to run any trick plays. I don't consider a direct snap to the RB or QB draw as being trick plays. I simply believe that Dennis Dixon is more adapted to running the ball for 2 or 3 yards.

GBMelBlount
11-14-2008, 06:53 AM
Then again, perhaps the biggest problem plaguing this Steelers team is that their offensive line has not yet had the time to truly gel. Injuries, new starters, a new blocking scheme, and youth combine to form a Steelers line that, like iron freshly removed from a blast furnace needs to be molded and made into something different: an offensive line more on par with the Steelers tradition, and one that will be more of a strength than a weakness.


Tony hipchest

one would think (or hope) that with the drafing and development of starks, kemoeatu, essex, and colon, the o-line problem would already been solved.

tomlin made it a mission to correct the special teams (which he has done), improve the steelers pass rush and sack total (phenominal).

i have no doubt our o-line problems will be corrected.

i have faith in tomlin to carry through.


I agree Tony, you can't do everything at once. Kudos to Tomlin for what he has done with the defense and special teams.

I am not sure about the players you mentioned being an integral part of a long term o-line solution though. Sure they may gel and improve to some degree, but I tend to believe we need a substantial upgrade in O-line talent as well.

steelpride12
11-14-2008, 08:22 AM
Im gonna go out on a limb here and take it to the offensive line of course. Yes Ben is not playing his best ball, but blaming Arians and Tomlin is out of the question.
Imagine what it would be like if Ben had time on every dropback or if Parker had wide open running lanes.
It starts up front of offense.

stlrtruck
11-14-2008, 08:55 AM
Time for the wildcat formation

(insert sarcastic smiley here)

Dino 6 Rings
11-14-2008, 09:39 AM
I accept no excuses. Block the guy in front of you, open holes and give Ben time to make his reads and go through his progression.

Shut Up and Hit Someone.

Or I'll come up to the Burgh and personally slap you across the face with a dead fish.

Hapa
11-14-2008, 05:08 PM
The Steelers' offensive linemen are not smart, finesse guys. They are maulers. Put in place by Bill Cowher and Russ Grimm to do one thing well: line up and destroy people in the run game. Under Cowher's offensive philosophy this worked out well. The Steelers were a run-first team who lived and died by running the ball on offense.

They aren't finesse guys, but they're DEFINITELY smart. O-Linemen are some of the most intelligent players in the game.

headymessman86
11-14-2008, 06:32 PM
Some very solid thought was put into this post. Very impressive.

Steelman16
11-14-2008, 06:34 PM
Time for the wildcat formation

(insert sarcastic smiley here)

I don't think we have enough healthy runningbacks for that one. :chuckle:

But maybe it'd break us outta da funk.... :noidea:

#1LambertFan
11-16-2008, 12:39 PM
Mendenhall is a tough runner. He fights for every yeard like Earl Campbell or Jerome Bettis. He isn't big though. I see more of a Clinton Portis or Adrian Peterson in him. When Arians (if he is still there next year) will find out the gem that he has proved to be in college we will have a great running back duo like we have had in all of our super bowl wins. We need a new O-line coach. I despise Zeirlan and his methods and I'm not the only one. Get rid of him and take 2-3 great lineman in the draft. Say Duke Robinson and Sam Young and for god's sake take a fullback that can replace Kreider in the 3rd our 4th. Jorvoskie Lane out of Texas A&M seems like a great fit. He is 6'0 and 285 pounds and he can block with a 40 at about 4.75. He can also run the ball in goal line situations (he scored on 16 rushes in 2007) If we keep our current team and let those amazing runblockers on the right side of our line we can establish the run well enough that Ben can pass and the 7-8 men in the box with only a couple of men blitzing situations will come up. I can see good things happening for us soon but I'm not the coach. Lets see if Tomlin agrees with me.

Ricco Suavez
11-16-2008, 01:26 PM
The first time I Lane from A&M was when he was a soph. and I thought this guy would be a great addition to the Steelers.

El-Gonzo Jackson
11-16-2008, 01:43 PM
Steelers starting right tackle Willie Colon has been nothing short of awful in his stint as a starter.

Stapleton doesn't win many battles but draws enough stalemates to be effective.

Center Justin Hartwig has been perhaps the lone bright spot of the Steelers' O-line in 2008. ..., he is such an improvement over last year's center Sean Mahan that his poor snaps can be forgotten.


Starks hasn't been an upgrade over Smith this season, .... Though he will be likely signed in the off-season by the Steelers as they let Marvel Smith go into free agency,

.

All pretty accurate statements. The most frightening one is that while Starks hasnt been an upgrade over Smith......he will likely be signed in the offseason. Its a truly bad situation. I'd rather they let him walk and look at some other reasonable vet in free agency like Stinchcomb, St. Clair, Columbo or even Vernon Carey.