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mesaSteeler
08-01-2009, 11:10 PM
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_636387.html#

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Steelers offensive front is taking charge

By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ask members of the most maligned Steelers' unit this past season about the criticism they receive, and the answers vary.

One, with a hint of defiance, says he only cares about the opinions expressed in the offensive line's meeting room. Another references a magazine that ranked the Steelers' offensive line No. 12 among the 12 teams that qualified for the playoffs this past season, proving that they aren't oblivious to all slights directed their way.

And yet, a third player shrugs it off as inevitable since the Steelers didn't have many other weaknesses. Critics will find a scab even on a supermodel and pick at it.

If there is a consensus among the players that make up the Steelers' offensive line, it is this: Better days are ahead.

The reasons vary, from an improved comfort level to better cohesion. There is also the fact that four of the five projected starters are in their mid 20s.

"We have the ability to be one of the best offensive lines in the NFL," center Justin Hartwig said. "I truly believe that."

That may seem like a dubious claim considering the offensive line had trouble keeping quarterback Ben Roethlisberger perpendicular to the ground this past season while the running game ranked 23rd in the NFL (under 106 yards per game).

But team management apparently agrees more with Hartwig than those who claim the Steelers won the Super Bowl last season in spite of their offensive line.

The Steelers signed left tackle Max Starks and left guard Chris Kemoeatu to long-term contracts during the offseason.

The 2009 draft brought just one offensive lineman - third-round guard Kraig Urbik.

And that, apparently, was just fine with Roethlisberger.

"I pulled for a lot of those guys to come back because they are a special group," Roethlisberger said of the offensive line.

Added Steelers coach Mike Tomlin: "These guys are coming into their own. They're in the prime of their career. You would anticipate these guys improving individually and collectively."

Brimming with confidence

Talking to Kemoeatu in past years made you wonder if he would rather have a tooth than a quote extracted. So it came as a mild surprise how at ease he seemed to be after wading into a cluster of reporters outside of Rooney Hall on Friday.

"How are you guys doing?" Kemoeatu said after arriving at St. Vincent College. "Are you excited?"

If Kemoeatu seemed more sure of himself, it's because the 6-foot-3, 344-pound road grader started every game this past season after previously serving as Alan Faneca's understudy.

He is not the only offensive lineman who arrived at camp more self-assured than a year ago.

"I've been the center of this offensive line for a year now, and I feel really confident in what I'm doing," said Hartwig, who beat out Sean Mahan for the starting job in training camp a year ago. "I'm going to encourage guys and let them know what we have to improve on and let them know that (mental) errors aren't going to be acceptable."

What also isn't acceptable is the number of times Roethlisberger got sacked this past season 46.

While that total can be attributed in part to Roethlisberger's propensity for holding onto the ball, the offensive line has been assailed for not doing a better job of protecting the Steelers' $100 million quarterback.

Never mind that offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, after reviewing game tapes, said less than 20 of Roethlisberger's sacks this past season could be pinned on the offensive line.

Or the fact that the Steelers' blocking schemes are such that the linemen are sometimes outnumbered when opposing defenses rush the quarterback.

"Our pass protections, we are usually responsible for six guys," Hartwig said. "Most teams are responsible for five guys, so that's a little bit extra on us, but we're capable of doing it."

One thing that should help the offensive line is the familiarity the players have with one another.

The Steelers had to break in two new starters last season and then had to "play chess," as Starks put it, after injuries sidelined left tackle Marvel Smith and right guard Kendall Simmons.

The group that emerged after the early season injuries started the Steelers' final 14 games. Not coincidentally, the line played its best at the end of the season.

"The offensive line is a very unique position where you need chemistry," Starks said. "I think having that opportunity to play together for at least three months has really helped us."

In an effort to build cohesion, the linemen get together frequently, whether it's meeting for dinner or going bowling.:thumbsup:

For the record, starting right tackle Willie Colon has the least amount of game when the linemen hit the lanes.

"He's all over the place," Hartwig said.

"I'm horrible," Colon agreed. "I'm the guy that buys the beers and sits in the back and cheers."

Line looks to take control

Watching the line last season from afar, former Steeler Faneca offered an assessment that doesn't differ too greatly from Hartwig's musings on Colon's bowling.

The Steelers were inconsistent, he said, which is another way of saying they were all over the place.

"I think, at times, they looked great, and it just seemed like when it went rough, it stayed rough," said Faneca, who signed with the New York Jets following the 2007 season. "Then, all of the sudden, they'd come out a couple of series later and play lights out."

Faneca said he watched the Steelers on TV and did not have the benefit of seeing the line's play from every angle. Ultimately, he said, the line did well enough as evidenced by the Lombardi Trophy the Steelers hoisted at the end of the season.

But Colon, for one, is under no illusion that the line imposed its will on opponents last season.

"When I look back at certain games, we've got to be more efficient at finishing games," Colon said. "When you get inside four minutes of a game, and the offense is on the field, it should be over. (Outside linebacker) James Harrison should be taking off the tape. It should be our job to just put away games."

While critical of the line's play at times in 2008, Colon bristles when others level shots against him and his teammates.

If the fifth-year veteran takes it personally, it's because he spends more time with his fellow linemen than he does his own brothers.

The linemen have forged a bond through shared experiences, which include bearing the brunt of withering criticism.

Such closeness is another reason why Hartwig expects the line to be better this season.

"When you invest in each other, it's not just five individuals showing up and doing a job," he said. "When you care about each other, you want to do well for the guy you're playing next to. I really do believe that correlates. I've been on a few teams where you just feel like in the locker room, it's not a very tight-knit group, and it shows on the field."

Many happy returns?

The Steelers return all five starters along their offensive line this season. While cynics may say that is not necessarily a good thing, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said he lobbied for the line to return intact. Here is a look at the players that started on the line last season.

LT Max Starks, 6-foot-8, 337 pounds. A former starter at right tackle, the 27-year-old Starks plugged the hole on the left side created by Marvel Smith's recurring back problems. In June, he signed a four-year deal worth as much as $26.3 million.

LG Chris Kemoeatu, 6-3, 344 pounds. The Jets coveted him but Steelers ponied up to keep Kemoeatu, 26, who plays with a nasty streak and can be a punishing run blocker.

C Justin Hartwig, 6-5, 312 pounds. Under-the-radar free-agent signee started every game last season and stabilized a position that had been a trouble spot in 2007. At 30 years of age, Hartwig is the graybeard of the group.

RG Darnell Stapleton, 6-3, 305 pounds. Converted center started 15 games last season. Stapleton, 23, will have to hold off third-round pick Kraig Urbik and veteran Trai Essex to keep his job.

RT Willie Colon, 6-3, 315 pounds. Has started 38 consecutive games at right tackle. The 26-year-old Colon is tough and gritty and could be poised for a big season.

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.

mulldog24
08-02-2009, 06:51 AM
I'm glad that the O-line is making it a point to get better this year. I would really like to see our offense return to it's 2007 form. It woud be great to have a 1200 yd rusher and a 32 touchdown QB.

El-Gonzo Jackson
08-02-2009, 10:02 AM
The intentions are all fine on the 1st day of practice as the Super Bowl champs. I was optimistic of them last year........I think we are in for more of the same and it could be an indication of the O line coach.

Naturally I hope they can become a top 10 O line, but ...........I said that last year too.

Preacher
08-02-2009, 10:41 AM
What fascinated me was the difference in the left to the right side in weight. There is a 20-40 pound weight difference. No wonder it seems most running has to go to the left, or have a guard pull.

I also don't really like Hartwig's weight. Sure wish he could put on 20 pounds or so and keep what quickness he has. That alone may be the problem with him not getting a push, especially with all the 3-4 DT in this league now.

steelerdave1969
08-02-2009, 12:38 PM
If this offensive line doesnt do a better job of protecting Ben this guy will look like a total idiot.

El-Gonzo Jackson
08-02-2009, 12:58 PM
What fascinated me was the difference in the left to the right side in weight. There is a 20-40 pound weight difference. No wonder it seems most running has to go to the left, or have a guard pull. .

According to postgameheroes.com The Steelers ran to the right side 334 times last season and to the left side 160. I guess that weight difference by Starks and Kemo doesnt mean that much.

Running Left End/Outside—-61 carries, 227 yards, 3.7 yards per rush

Running Left Tackle—-44 carries, 166 yards, 3.8 yards per rush

Running Left Guard—-55 carries, 195 yards, 3.5 yards per rush

Up the Middle—-102 carries, 284 yards, 2.8 yards per rush

Running Right Guard—-62 carries, 190 yards, 3.1 yards per rush

Running Right Tackle—-86 carries, 357 yards, 4.2 yards per rush

Running Right End/Outside—-84 carries, 405 yards, 4.8 yards per rush
http://www.postgameheroes.com/?p=6965

PA/VA Guy
08-02-2009, 04:12 PM
Three reasons why the O-line will improve this year:
1. Although this is still a young unit, the O-line has had almost a full year of playing together. The O-line, more than any other unit on the field, needs reps to get comfortable with each other.
2. The schedule gets much easier. Last years was brutal; this year - not so much.
3. Injuries on both the O-line and at running back hurt the running game and put pressure on the passing game. Injuries are part of the game and must be over come. But hopefully they will be fewer in number.
:noidea:

Hotrodder07
08-02-2009, 05:07 PM
While I do think that they will improve this year, I don't know how much. We do have an easier schedule, and our running backs are all going to be healthy, so that will definitely help. I don't know if we'll see a significant decrease in the number of sacks, but I do believe that our running game will improve noticeably.

The season can't come soon enough.

Psyychoward86
08-02-2009, 05:32 PM
Three reasons why the O-line will improve this year:
1. Although this is still a young unit, the O-line has had almost a full year of playing together. The O-line, more than any other unit on the field, needs reps to get comfortable with each other.
2. The schedule gets much easier. Last years was brutal; this year - not so much.
3. Injuries on both the O-line and at running back hurt the running game and put pressure on the passing game. Injuries are part of the game and must be over come. But hopefully they will be fewer in number.
:noidea:

Sounds good. I'm really loving the fact that the guys are hangin out with each other. Brotherly love is the truth!!!

Steel_Bus_24
08-02-2009, 07:53 PM
I hope Urbik can get in there take over ther RG spot.

We have to run the ball better. Its our best way to protect Ben. His career is going to be cut short if he keeps taking that much of a pounding

mesaSteeler
08-02-2009, 09:19 PM
I hope Urbik can get in there take over ther RG spot.

We have to run the ball better. Its our best way to protect Ben. His career is going to be cut short if he keeps taking that much of a pounding
First he will have to get out of Tomlin's doghouse. See the Training Camp forum.

http://forums.steelersfever.com/showthread.php?t=37387

rick723
08-02-2009, 10:16 PM
If this offensive line doesnt do a better job of protecting Ben this guy will look like a total idiot.

Comeon Dave, we won the SB.:banging:

mmalone
08-03-2009, 08:35 AM
If this offensive line doesnt do a better job of protecting Ben this guy will look like a total idiot.

Call plays that spread the defense. 4 wide outs.. go play action and give ben time and parker/mendy/moore/summers/davis more spaces to break thru on the D-line...

someone get shanahan a OC contract to sign....

revefsreleets
08-03-2009, 09:56 AM
The intentions are all fine on the 1st day of practice as the Super Bowl champs. I was optimistic of them last year........I think we are in for more of the same and it could be an indication of the O line coach.

Naturally I hope they can become a top 10 O line, but ...........I said that last year too.

Sorry, simply can't go there. Blaming the coach for failure and crediting the players for success is the hallmark of either a casual fan or a cop out.

As for Shanahan, why the eff would we hire him? His system is completely wrong for our personnel. He is a zone blocking guy, light OL, and runs a West Coast offense. He's a pure finesse guy...horrible fit and would be a huge step backwards for us...

El-Gonzo Jackson
08-03-2009, 11:46 AM
Sorry, simply can't go there. Blaming the coach for failure and crediting the players for success is the hallmark of either a casual fan or a cop out.
...

Sorry, my bad. Let me correct that........Zeirline, Harold Goodwin and Arians do a great job of coaching these guys on the O line...but they just continue in failing to execute.

What was I thinking in forgetting to praise the coaches and blame the players? :doh:

mmalone
08-03-2009, 11:53 AM
Sorry, my bad. Let me correct that........Zeirline, Harold Goodwin and Arians do a great job of coaching these guys on the O line...but they just continue in failing to execute.

What was I thinking in forgetting to praise the coaches and blame the players? :doh:

this goes on and on. if we could only get arians a better set of offensive players he would look better. we have a Super Bowl offensive team... Arians is riding on our players. they need to ride him out of here. Then lets open up the offensive attack.
The plays are just to easy to read.. we lose the initial step most of the time.

It like a draw play... keep the D off balance... most of the time they are just plowing into our OL without a bit of hesitation. thats not our players fault. its the play calling.

revefsreleets
08-03-2009, 12:51 PM
Yaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnn....

The one trillionth bash Arians post. You win a bozo button.

SteelTalons
08-03-2009, 01:06 PM
Yaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnn....

The one trillionth bash Arians post. You win a bozo button.

http://glitchbucket.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/bozobutton3.jpg

I agree. :hatsoff:

mmalone
08-03-2009, 01:13 PM
http://glitchbucket.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/bozobutton3.jpg

I agree. :hatsoff:

ill send you the button back, when arians is fired... but then im sure you guys will say you knew he needed to go ....... blah blah blah....

revefsreleets
08-03-2009, 02:03 PM
Please peddle this tired nonsense elsewhere. We're bored to death with it on this board...

mmalone
08-03-2009, 04:01 PM
Please peddle this tired nonsense elsewhere. We're bored to death with it on this board...

why dont you tell me what is so great about arians. what great plays he calls, what strategies he has that lead the league in offense.. other than he won the SB.. we know that.

ben and the boys win the games and the SB...

maybe you could enlighten the arians bashers and make us change our minds about BC with the great knowledge of yours and of his Offensive Mastery.

im sure you wont.

revefsreleets
08-04-2009, 10:08 AM
why dont you tell me what is so great about arians. what great plays he calls, what strategies he has that lead the league in offense.. other than he won the SB.. we know that.

ben and the boys win the games and the SB...

maybe you could enlighten the arians bashers and make us change our minds about BC with the great knowledge of yours and of his Offensive Mastery.

im sure you wont.

I posted this before, but since there seems to be a new infusion of know-nothings and nitwits to this board all the time, I'm happy to post it up again. However, in your case, I'm not sure how much good it will do, as you lack even a fundamental understanding of the game (see: your complete lack of any idea what the West Coast Offense is really about):

As many of you know, I have been a pretty big supporter of Bruce Arians all year. I have maintained that A) Ben, Tomlin and the FO are happy with him, B) He actually knows what he’s doing, C) He’s making the most out of his bad situation (The OL is easily the worst to ever win a SB) and, finally, D) He’ll be back next year.

I’m going to try and put everything into one thread here, including defense of my position, some additional assertions, and a little football knowledge as well (for those who already know everything about football, and you know who you are, no need to read on, I guess). I know there a certain percentage of haters who will not be dissuaded, and, whatever, that’s fine, BUT I would still like to point out that the Rooney’s run perhaps the most successful franchise in all of sports, and they know a thing or two about the game (i.e. more than YOU do), and they are sticking with him, so…

Anyway, without further ado, here we go…

First off, the guy has a long resume of coaching. He definitely paid his dues and has worked his way up to this level through both hard work and accomplishment. He was a QB at Virginia Tech, but no great shakes. Still, he played the game at the college level so that counts for something. Interestingly, he threw for 3 TD’s but ran for 8 in his senior year, so he knows a little about being mobile. He coached at various levels for several college teams, most notably holding the RB coach job under Bear Bryant at Bama. He was the HC at Temple for several years where the Owls sucked. But they sucked before that, and after that, and still suck, so that’s no big surprise.

NFL-wise, he was the RB couch at KC, where he met a dude named Bill Cowher. He coached TE’s for the Saints but was then hired to develop Peyton Manning at Indy. The haters give him zero credit for his work there (but that’s why they are haters). He spent 3 years in that role, and Manning himself has spoken highly of Arians, so any rational person would definitely see that he was instrumental in the Peyton’s development.

He was then promoted by the Browns to OC. Contrary to popular belief, Arians had some success in Cleveland, particularly in 2002 when the Browns scored the most points since ’87 and improved in almost every category offensively compared to the 3 years prior.

But the Browns suck, and they know nothing about winning in the NFL, so they made the mistake that many fans make, and blamed Arians for their horrible offensive line and shitcanned him after the 2003 season. Cowher hired him as WR coach. He was then promoted to OC.

One of the things Arians brings to the table is an offense kind of like the Colts, where you have deeper QB drops, run deeper routes, more crosses (to mix up the DB’s) and you’re looking to hit big plays. But it’s a problem if you don’t have a great OL. It’s a difficult situation because you have to ask a guy to change his schemes based on what he has to work with. He obviously DOES adapt, because we’ve seen it. My favorite complaint is when armchair Monday morning QB’s make these ridiculous assertions that the guy doesn’t know what he’s doing. Really? It’s his job. He’s paid big bucks to do what he does. It’s retarded to think that a few message board posters can second-guess the guy without knowing all the variables of the equation. That’s exactly why he gets zero credit form the haters when something works and all the blame when it fails. That shows a very narrow and myopic view of the game. But I digress. Here are a couple particular things I’ve found that are interesting. One is a broad explanation of Arians philosophy, and the other is specifics about screens, why they don’t run them, etc, etc (because this is a subject that is constantly bandied about by the naysayers I thought it’d be interesting to hear what Hines Ward had to say about it.)


http://pit.scout.com/2/806666.html

“It hasn’t been for a couple of years,” Arians said. “It’s something we work hard on, but they weren’t going to work versus (the New York Giants (http://nyg.scout.com/)).”
The Steelers tried one screen pass against the Giants and it clanged off Mewelde Moore (http://pit.scout.com/a.z?s=68&p=8&c=1&nid=3683604)’s chest. The incompletion was probably good for Moore, who would’ve been tackled for a loss.
“The Giants are a pressure man-to-man team, so they’re always hugging the screen runner,” Arians said. “The Redskins do the same thing. It’s a very similar defense this week and we’ve got to do a better job on the road of blocking them.”
Hines Ward (http://pit.scout.com/a.z?s=68&p=8&c=1&nid=3683579) called the Steelers “a great perimeter team that should have better success” running screens.
“We’ve run them,” he said. “It’s just a matter of running them the way we’re supposed to. But we’re definitely working on it. We didn’t just ball it up and throw it away. I don’t know how the offensive line used to do it, but trust me, B.A. loves the screen. He’s a big screen guy. But when you’re backed up third-and-13 and the defense is calling out “screen” and “draw,” it makes it difficult. It’s a chess match. “We’re working on it though. It’s not where we want to be, but I like where we’re going. Screens are definitely going to help us later on down the road, because if you blitz, Willie Parker and Mewelde Moore can take it 60 yards.”
Same article: Arians talks about quick adjustments…
* “A couple were more coverage sacks than blocking sacks, especially on the quick plays. They did a really good job of legally jamming the guys within five yards. The quick game was disrupted.”



http://www.sportingnews.com/blog/dstruzzi/tag/BruceArians

Arians' plans on using more four wide, single back sets on first and second down. This is similar to what the Colts ran in the Super Bowl and what the Patriots had run in their championship years. This could be a very explosive offense with the development of Santonio Holmes and Nate Washington. However, this could pose serious protection problems for the current Steelers line. As was evident at the beginning of this season, the Steelers' O line is built to run the ball. They do not fare as well in the pass protection. On passing downs, Marvel Smith is often exploited at left tackle, as is the entire right side of the line. In a spread formation, the OL is often isolated in protection, making their weakness more apparent. Without a whole sale change in OL personel, the Steelers may have some growing pains.

The new offense sounds like Ben Roethlisberger's dream. This scheme is much more suited for Parker's skills, and it would give Ward and Holmes room to work. However, I am not sure this offensive system will be efficient immediately with the current personel. We'll have to wait and see.


I’m sure if I kept digging I could find other SOURCED stuff to explain away most of the nonsense that the haters post. The bottom line is the game of football is a chess match, not a simple game of checkers. Arians probably spends 80 hours a week doing his job, and there is an opposing DC spending 80 hours a week to counter. I think most fans think in 2D when this is a 3 dimensional subject. It’s an incredibly complex system and people fail when they attempt to view it in simple terms based on their own limited understanding of the game.

Am I an apologist? You betcha! But guess what? The Steelers won a Super Bowl with Arians as the coordinator. They retained his services for next year. Tomlin obviously has say in the matter, and he seems on board. Ben obviously likes and is comfortable with Arians. Rooney seems pleased. They know more than you do. They are in charge.


Other Sources:
http://www.delcotimes.com/articles/2009/01/30/sports/doc498295dca8a56046882943.txt

http://www.stampedeblue.com/nfl/players/l.nfl.com-p.886

mmalone
08-04-2009, 11:21 AM
[QUOTE=revefsreleets;633830One of the things Arians brings to the table is an offense kind of like the Colts, where you have deeper QB drops, run deeper routes, more crosses (to mix up the DBs) and youre looking to hit big plays. But its a problem if you dont have a great OL. Its a difficult situation because you have to ask a guy to change his schemes based on what he has to work with.[/QUOTE]

So out of this blah blah blah, this is your take on the plays he brings...

i have posted dozens of times that ben doesnt have time to wait for receivers to get down field. they need more screens, deception, short slant passes, play action to be able to stretch the field..

so you are confirming what i say...

Arians and you know the OL isnt good enough to allow the time to make the long pass plays... so arians has to make the plays that fit our OL and players... hes the OC.

he has to change his offensive schemes, run and pass to work with what he has, our OL players.

but your saying arians is stubborn and he will drag us thru this because he can't be flexible....

thats what im reading here...

revefsreleets
08-04-2009, 11:37 AM
You can't, apparently, read either.

Sigh. You'll make a welcome addition to my ignore list.

SteelerFanInCA
08-04-2009, 11:46 AM
It looks like Stapleton added some weight in the off season. I don't remember him being over 300 LBS.

The Duke
08-04-2009, 11:49 AM
It looks like Stapleton added some weight in the off season. I don't remember him being over 300 LBS.

He went over 300 last year I believe. In 2007, his rookie season, he was severely underweight, but last year he bulked up and that's when he started playing better

I like the kid, hopefully if he loses his starting job he can still be a backup for some time here

mmalone
08-04-2009, 03:37 PM
we shall see on stapleton by morning.