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mesaSteeler
06-29-2009, 07:51 AM
The 2009 Steelers: Strangely Underrated Champions
By KC Joyner
http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/29/the-2009-steelers-strangely-underrated-champions/

The Football Scientist, KC Joyner, is a Fifth Down contributor. Lab results from “Scientific Football 2009,” to be published in August, are now available for those who order the book now.

I did a radio interview last week with Greg DePalma of Pro Football Central, and one of the topics was which team should be considered the favorite to win the Super Bowl. It didn’t surprise me that the Patriots were on top of the Las Vegas odds to be crowned Super Bowl XLIV champions, but a recent study I did on the defending champion Steelers has me wondering why they aren’t being thought of as having the inside track to repeat.

Let me enumerate the reasons:

Big Ben should have a much better season. Roethlisberger always has some kind of injury woes (as he frequently reminds us with his repetitive wincing, grimacing and other exaggerated motions he uses to showcase his pains), but the shoulder he separated in Week 1 against Houston last year limited his performance all year long. A healthy Roethlisberger should mean a return to his 2007 form, which was the best of his career and included a passer rating that was over 20 points better than his 2008 total (104.1 versus 80.1).

The Steeler defense. Everyone knows how good this unit is, but here’s a point I want to make: As it stands now, who do you think would win between a Tom Brady-led Patriots offense and the Pittsburgh defense? I know it is entirely possible (and maybe even likely) that Brady will be back to his old self by season’s end, but many recent top-line QBs coming off serious injuries haven’t made it back to their previous performance levels until a couple of seasons later. As it stands today, I’d take this D in that battle hands down, and until I see Brady back at full strength, I see this a significant edge for the Steelers.

Improved running game. Pittsburgh’s running game was affected last year by injuries to starting running back Willie Parker (out for five games), starting left tackle Marvel Smith (played in only five games) and starting right guard Kendall Simmons (played in only four games). A healthy Parker combined with a healthy O-line that gets a better chance to jell than last year’s group should yield a much higher rush yards per game than the 105.6 this team put up last year (a total that ranked 23rd in the league).

The secondary. Pittsburgh did lose Bryant McFadden in free agency, but his replacement, William Gay, more than held his own last year with a superb 3.4 YPA (lowest in the league). The Steelers also had to juggle their CBs for most of 2008 and, as is the case with the O-line, if this unit stays healthy, it could play even better than it did last year.

Schedule. Pittsburgh has a first-place schedule that includes such opponents as Tennessee, San Diego and Miami, to go along with two tough divisional games against Baltimore. But check out their potentially easy games – Cincinnati (twice), Detroit, Denver, Kansas City and Oakland. I know this is the NFL and no game is a gimme, but it would be a complete shock if Pittsburgh didn’t go at least 5-1 against that caliber of competition.

Now contrast that schedule with those of the two other AFC conference favorites:
New England – hard games: Atlanta, Baltimore, Tennessee, Miami (twice), Indianapolis, New Orleans and Carolina. Easy games: Denver, Tampa Bay, Jacksonville.
Tennessee – hard games: Pittsburgh, Indianapolis (twice), New England, Arizona, Miami and San Diego. Easy games: Jacksonville (twice), St. Louis, Seattle.

I know a lot of this schedule analysis is subjective (is Jacksonville really an easy opponent?), but now matter how I slice it, Pittsburgh comes out with more easy opponents and fewer hard opponents than either of the other two AFC powerhouses.

I have to admit that before I did the Steelers tape breakdown, I was of the mind-set that San Diego was the conference favorite and New England was a close second. l’ll be fair and say that I reserve the right to change my mind after doing the Chargers breakdown (which should come in the next couple of weeks), but as it stands right now, these five factors have me saying that Pittsburgh is the odds-on favorite to win the AFC.

(You can follow KC Joyner on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/ckavry or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kcjoynertfs).

HometownGal
06-29-2009, 08:02 AM
I like this guy's way of thinking and he makes a lot of very viable points. The Steelers are going to have high expectations placed upon them this season for obvious reasons and whether they can live up to those expectations remains to be seen, but if I'm a betting person (and I am), I'd have to say they stand the best chance of any other team in the AFC of repeating as champs. :tt02:

mesaSteeler
06-29-2009, 08:08 AM
I like the way the author thinks as well. I think I'll drop over to Vegas and put down a little cash. I will be very happy if the rest of the NFL continues to underestimate us as the idiot talking heads do.

Jooser
06-29-2009, 08:17 AM
Nice read that. I have to say that I think he hits on a lot of great points here. I actually feel like Brady will come out with something to prove. I think he'll light it up the first half of the season, but I have questions as to whether or not his body can sustain it all season. I think we have an excellent chance or repeating if 1.) our defense plays at the same high level as last year, and 2.) our offense simply improves in a few areas. We need to simply run the ball better and that will translate into less pressure on Ben from the pass rush stand point. It should also improve our red zone scoring effeciency, which sucked last season from a short TD perspective.

Galax Steeler
06-29-2009, 08:19 AM
He makes it sound good on paper, but we have to go into each game with a posoitve attitude.

I know the easy games are not going to be a give me and we can't overlook any of them. We need to play the best Steler football that we can and win another superbowl.

Men of Steel
06-29-2009, 10:01 AM
mesaSteelerThe 2009 Steelers: Strangely Underrated Champions

Improved running game. Pittsburgh’s running game was affected last year by injuries to starting running back Willie Parker (out for five games), starting left tackle Marvel Smith (played in only five games) and starting right guard Kendall Simmons (played in only four games). A healthy Parker combined with a healthy O-line that gets a better chance to jell than last year’s group should yield a much higher rush yards per game than the 105.6 this team put up last year (a total that ranked 23rd in the league).


Great read Mesa.
Id like to add to this point though... and people do seem to forget everything was against us.. therefore the ground game weakened last year.

FWP gets injured... misses game time.
Mendenhall is out.
M Smith and K Simmons both out.
New Center, in Hartwig, new Guards in Kemo and D Stappleton.

this is pretty much a brand new O-line!!! with two guys that had never started... one that had a mediocre previous year in carolina.. and two tackles that werent showing consistency... (oh yea Throw into the mix the fact that the Steelers had THE toughest schedule in the NFL last year... and maybe one of the toughest in league history given opossing teams previous records)

Steelers played allot of TOP NOTCH defenses!!!! and ppl blame the Oline for everything sometimes?? give the dudes a brake... when it mattered the most.. .they STUCK TOGETHER and protected ben with their lives! ( cough cough... GW SB DRIVE ... cough)

OUR OLINE WILL DO JUST FINE THIS YEAR.... they are more confident... more comfortable with each other... and the schedule is one of the easiest in the league.

FWP is healthy... Mendenhall is set... and the ground game WILL BE BACK TO OLDSCHOOL STEELER FOOTBALL :tt03:

The_WARDen
06-29-2009, 10:31 AM
Obviously, the memo was missed. Last season did not count because Marsha was hurt. Therefore the Steelers' championship has an asterisk thus making the Cheatriots a favorite yet again.

LVSteelersfan
06-29-2009, 10:48 AM
The Patsies win another preseason Super Bowl on paper. Woo Hoo !!!!!! Who gives a crap what the prognosticators say. We are the champeens until someone knocks us off our perch. Patsies, you can kiss my .........

Sharkissle29
06-29-2009, 11:12 AM
mesaSteelerThe 2009 Steelers: Strangely Underrated Champions



Great read Mesa.
Id like to add to this point though... and people do seem to forget everything was against us.. therefore the ground game weakened last year.

FWP gets injured... misses game time.
Mendenhall is out.
M Smith and K Simmons both out.
New Center, in Hartwig, new Guards in Kemo and D Stappleton.

this is pretty much a brand new O-line!!! with two guys that had never started... one that had a mediocre previous year in carolina.. and two tackles that werent showing consistency... (oh yea Throw into the mix the fact that the Steelers had THE toughest schedule in the NFL last year... and maybe one of the toughest in league history given opossing teams previous records)

Steelers played allot of TOP NOTCH defenses!!!! and ppl blame the Oline for everything sometimes?? give the dudes a brake... when it mattered the most.. .they STUCK TOGETHER and protected ben with their lives! ( cough cough... GW SB DRIVE ... cough)

OUR OLINE WILL DO JUST FINE THIS YEAR.... they are more confident... more comfortable with each other... and the schedule is one of the easiest in the league.

FWP is healthy... Mendenhall is set... and the ground game WILL BE BACK TO OLDSCHOOL STEELER FOOTBALL :tt03:

I agree. I believe the O-line will be a ton better this year. Experience is key and they all got some last year. If they can stay healthy, I believe the O-line will be just fine

wootawnee
06-29-2009, 12:12 PM
We just gotta keep laying those blocks one at a time and improve on the structure that we have already made...................

Psyychoward86
06-29-2009, 12:26 PM
YPA= Yards per attempt? If so, I think we have ALL underestimated William Gay, no matter how much we like him.

steelreserve
06-29-2009, 12:44 PM
The Steeler defense. Everyone knows how good this unit is, but here’s a point I want to make: As it stands now, who do you think would win between a Tom Brady-led Patriots offense and the Pittsburgh defense? I know it is entirely possible (and maybe even likely) that Brady will be back to his old self by season’s end, but many recent top-line QBs coming off serious injuries haven’t made it back to their previous performance levels until a couple of seasons later. As it stands today, I’d take this D in that battle hands down, and until I see Brady back at full strength, I see this a significant edge for the Steelers.

Also, don't forget: This will be the year Randy Moss tears his ACL in the first game. I fully expect another Karma-based smackdown for these limp-dicked jerks.

fansince'76
06-29-2009, 12:50 PM
Also, don't forget: This will be the year Randy Moss tears his ACL in the first game. I fully expect another Karma-based smackdown for these limp-dicked jerks.

It'd be funny if it happened while performing one of the patented pu$$y fall-down-and-slide maneuvers their WRs practice in order to avoid getting hit....

LVSteelersfan
06-29-2009, 12:59 PM
I expect Lebeau to add yet some more wrinkles to that defense this year with Ziggy and Timmons playing a major role. I can't wait for this season to get started. The smackdowns to begin starting with Lenwhale. The Patsies won't sniff the playoffs this year as Moss finally transgresses, loses a step and is no longer a deep threat because Brady is on his butt every other play. And their defense will get burned big time for as many points as teams can lay on them this year with the tougher schedule they have. Can't wait to see New England fans jumping off the bandwagon as fast as they can.

KeiselPower99
06-29-2009, 12:59 PM
Shhh. I like being under the rader.

scsteeler
06-29-2009, 02:35 PM
The Steeler defense. Everyone knows how good this unit is, but here’s a point I want to make: As it stands now, who do you think would win between a Tom Brady-led Patriots offense and the Pittsburgh defense? I know it is entirely possible (and maybe even likely) that Brady will be back to his old self by season’s end, but many recent top-line QBs coming off serious injuries haven’t made it back to their previous performance levels until a couple of seasons later. As it stands today, I’d take this D in that battle hands down, and until I see Brady back at full strength, I see this a significant edge for the Steelers.

OK I would like to first say that I like the fact they have once again crowned Brady and the Patriots the AFC champion before the season unfolds! This takes the spotlight from the Steelers and gives them some what a chip on their shoulders and something to work for.

Now for my beef with this above statement, is this New England team not the same one that lost to the Giants after only being able to post 14 points when everyone just knew that Brady and Moss would run rampant in Super Bowl 42. My point is that this Steeler Defense will be much better this year and our offense should have a better run offense this year also. I am not saying the Patty's will not be one of the teams to beat but THE TEAM TO BEAT? I just don't see it and I dare say that the Patriots might suffer from a Brady that is concerned about getting hurt unless Goodelle issues a no touch rule on him which could happen. I can't wait until the season begins.

steelreserve
06-29-2009, 03:09 PM
It'd be funny if it happened while performing one of the patented pu$$y fall-down-and-slide maneuvers their WRs practice in order to avoid getting hit....

Or since it's Moss, it could happen when he's half-assing it toward a slightly overthrown but catchable ball. Although they'd probably have to be losing fairly badly, so it'd remind him of being on the Raiders. So maybe your idea is more likely.

Psyychoward86
06-29-2009, 03:12 PM
I expect Lebeau to add yet some more wrinkles to that defense this year with Ziggy and Timmons playing a major role. I can't wait for this season to get started. The smackdowns to begin starting with Lenwhale. The Patsies won't sniff the playoffs this year as Moss finally transgresses, loses a step and is no longer a deep threat because Brady is on his butt every other play. And their defense will get burned big time for as many points as teams can lay on them this year with the tougher schedule they have. Can't wait to see New England fans jumping off the bandwagon as fast as they can.

Funny thing, he did. It was on Steelers.com a couple months ago, he added a whole new package for our Defense. You smell what he's cookin? :naughty:

wezx
06-29-2009, 03:31 PM
Man, I hate the Cheatriots almost as much as the Browns!

mmalone
06-29-2009, 03:53 PM
As long as the steelers dont have the high flying west coast offense... we will always be under the radar. tv and media wants the offensive show, we give them great defense.. thats why they keep adjusting rules to help the offense score easier. And i still feel the poor holding calls on OL's like the Pats, Colts, Giants, Cowboys , Broncos is part of it. Watch Harrison and Woodley get held and tackled in the backfield in those games... wow... and there is a ref standing right there?? i guess they cant call holding every play.... or only once in a while.

revefsreleets
06-30-2009, 11:06 AM
High Flying West Coast Offense? HUH?

The West Coast Offense is a ball control style of offense that utilizes short passing plays in place of some running plays. It's used by teams like the Seahawks and Bronco's and Green Bay, hardly super high profile teams. You are welcome to learn more here:

http://westcoastoffense.com/

Tye Colts, Cards and Patriots do NOT use a West Coast Offense, and these are the kinds of teams that have "high flying" offenses.

Fail.

steelreserve
06-30-2009, 11:36 AM
High Flying West Coast Offense? HUH?

The West Coast Offense is a ball control style of offense that utilizes short passing plays in place of some running plays. It's used by teams like the Seahawks and Bronco's and Green Bay, hardly super high profile teams. You are welcome to learn more here:

http://westcoastoffense.com/

Tye Colts, Cards and Patriots do NOT use a West Coast Offense, and these are the kinds of teams that have "high flying" offenses.

Fail.

I think a lot of people get confused about what the term "West Coast Offense" means for two reasons.

First, when the 49ers started using it in the 1980s, Jerry Rice would catch a 7-yard slant, dance around and make six defenders miss the tackle, and then outrun them for a 50-yard gain. John Taylor did that quite a bit too. I cannot stress how many times I saw this happen.

Also, one of the things that made Joe Montana one of the all-time great QBs was an uncanny ability to check down to the fourth and even fifth receivers in a split-second. So a lot of the time, you'd have a play designed as a short pass for Rice or Taylor, but they'd both be double-teamed, so he'd hit the tight end over the middle or a running back who was completely uncovered, and he'd run for 20 yards. So it probably gained a reputation as a "big play" offense even though that wasn't what most of the plays were designed for.

To a lesser extent, at about the same time, the Raiders employed an offensive strategy of mostly chucking the ball 50 yards down the field all the time. And it seems like a lot of people mistakenly equate that with the "West Coast Offense" simply because of geography and the fact that there was a lot of passing.

I do have to say, though, that just about every time I've seen the Colts or Patriots play, three-quarters of the game does seem to be taken up by cheap short passes that it's hard to defend against, interspersed with the occasional deep threat when the defense is off-guard. Which is a form of the West Coast Offense, even if it's not exactly the way Bill Walsh ran it.

solardave
06-30-2009, 11:55 AM
It appeared up until last season that the Patriots owned the Steelers. That being said the only time Brady has faced an onslaught like he will see from us this season(if we even play them) was the last SB against the Giants where he was totally out of his element. They have added some free agents but that doesn't matter if he spends the day on his a---.That's if the Patriots make it to the playoffs. The giants showed his weakness and that weakness is he is a candy a--- who's afraid to get hit. He's been protected all of his career but those days are over. This year we'll see the real Tom Brady. Run Tom Run!
I think San Diego will be our biggest competition with Merriman and LT back. The AFC north will be the toughest division in the league this year.As Dennis Miller said:"that's just my opinion, I could be wrong"!:tt02:

steelreserve
06-30-2009, 02:09 PM
It appeared up until last season that the Patriots owned the Steelers. That being said the only time Brady has faced an onslaught like he will see from us this season(if we even play them) was the last SB against the Giants where he was totally out of his element.

I've always thought that the main reason we always used to lose to the Patriots was because we lost our aggressiveness in those games. When we came after Brady and with a defense that was fired up and shifty in the 2004 regular season, we beat the shit out of him and won the game easily.

Then for some reason, the next three times we played them, we decided to sit back and try to play them straight up on defense, and they picked us apart. Last year we came back fired up and aggressive, and look what happened. I really think we can beat those morons any time we choose; it just depends on what kind of mood we show up in.

revefsreleets
06-30-2009, 02:20 PM
Anthony Smith was plenty aggressive...that didn't work out so well for him, though...

HughC
06-30-2009, 02:58 PM
It appeared up until last season that the Patriots owned the Steelers. That being said the only time Brady has faced an onslaught like he will see from us this season(if we even play them) was the last SB against the Giants where he was totally out of his element. They have added some free agents but that doesn't matter if he spends the day on his a---.That's if the Patriots make it to the playoffs. The giants showed his weakness and that weakness is he is a candy a--- who's afraid to get hit. He's been protected all of his career but those days are over. This year we'll see the real Tom Brady. Run Tom Run!
I think San Diego will be our biggest competition with Merriman and LT back. The AFC north will be the toughest division in the league this year.As Dennis Miller said:"that's just my opinion, I could be wrong"!:tt02:

Actually, according to espn he was the most hit QB in the league in '06 and '07. So I wouldn't characterize him as being afraid to get hit back then. However, now that he's returning from knee surgery, he may have a completely different mindset about making a throw knowing he's going to get creamed a moment after he releases the ball.

http://myespn.go.com/blogs/afceast/0-8-129/Pressure-on-Pats--O-line-to-protect-rebuilt-Brady.html


I watched the game against NE from last season a few weeks ago. What I saw was them playing the Steelers close for the first half, but then they made two huge mistakes: first they not only did not score at the end of the half, but also missed a gimme FG. Then that guy muffed the kick and turned the ball over.

Here is where it got interesting. Down 20-10 with plenty of time left, NE seemed to change their game plan. They took out a TE and went with another WR in an attempt to get their offense going and catch up. Without that extra blocker on the line the Steelers were able to capitalize with those strip sacks, and the rout was on.

I think what will be key if the teams meet at some point this year is to get a lead and force them to alter their game plan - like what happened last year. My guess is they are going to run the ball more often, and keep using those short slants. In their offense those quick passes have the same effect as a run: high percentage, low risk plays, with the QB getting rid of the ball before the pressure can get to him.


San Diego should be a lot better on defense with Merriman and Cromartie back. They should have the AFC West wrapped up by Thanksgiving; they'll probably be the only team in that division with a winning record. And despite the coaching chamges the Colts will surely be a contender too.

MongoSteeler
07-03-2009, 02:04 AM
Please, go ahead and rate the Pats as the team to beat. Please, focus all the media attention on Brady.Please, take the Steelers lightly.
You can take this to the bank, Tomlin will have his team ready to play in every game this year from the start of training camp until they hoist #7.

Preacher
07-03-2009, 06:16 AM
Marsha's back.

The Pats must win again...

right? Right?


What a joke. Can't wait to meet them in the AFCCG.

Indo
07-03-2009, 03:20 PM
"Here's a story

Of a Girl named Brady...


:blah: :blah::blah: :blah: :blah: :blah::blah: :blah::blah::blah:

...the media kept slurping
all over his knob

and that's how they became

The Brady Bunch

The Brady Bunch...."