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mesaSteeler
09-02-2009, 04:57 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers 2009 Season Preview: Looking for an Encore
http://nfl.fanhouse.com/2009/09/02/pittsburgh-steelers-2009-season-preview-looking-for-an-encore/
Posted Sep 02, 2009 12:00PM By JJ Cooper (RSS feed)

Training camps have wrapped up, the NFL season is right around the corner, and it's still hot as sin outside. But instead of cooling you off with a warm island song, FanHouse break out ye old heat check for our 2009 NFL Season Previews. " We'll rate each club in 5 categories on a scale of 1 to 10, high score wins.

The last time the Steelers won a Super Bowl, in 2006, they limped through the encore season as Bill Cowher headed towards retirement, Ben Roethlisberger battled a motorcycle wreck, two concussions and appendicitis, and the offensive line fell apart. Now after winning another Super Bowl, Pittsburgh's offensive line is still shaky and Roethlisberger has already endured an Achilles injury and a civil suit, but Pittsburgh believes it has built a team that can make a much better defense of its "sticky Lombardi."


Offense: He sometimes holds the ball too long and he's not liekly to throw for 4,000 yards, but it's hard to complain about Ben Roethlisberger's results. He's a master of the fourth-quarter comeback and his size and scrambling ability makes it extremely hard for defenses to tee off on him. He's also got a nice set of targets to throw to with Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Heath Miller and youngsters Limas Sweed and Mike Wallace. Sweed has the size and speed to be a quality No. 3 receiver if he can just prove he can consistently catch the ball while Wallace is one of the fastest receivers the Steelers have ever had. Pittsburgh's backfield is deep with Willie Parker, Rashard Mendenhall and Mewelde Moore, but the weakness of the Steelers offensive line may keep them from being more than adequate. Last year, the offensive line gave up 49 sacks (third worst in the league), but even more troubling, the Steelers couldn't run block. Heat Index: 8

Defense: Pittsburgh brings back 10 of 11 starters on offense compared to nine of 11 starters on defense, but it's the defense that once again will be the strength of the team. William Gay, the replacement for the free-agent departure Bryant McFadden, played nearly as many snaps as McFadden last year and showed he's ready to start. Lawrence Timmons, Larry Foote's replacement at inside linebacker, is a much better athlete than Foote and should add even more big-play ability to a defense that had plenty of it last year. And the defensive line has added first-round pick Ziggy Hood while bringing back all three starters. It will be hard for the Steelers to be better than they were last year -- they ranked first in most categories -- but there's no reason to think they can't be just as good. Heat Index: 10.

Special Teams: If Pittsburgh had two weaknesses last year, it was its offensive line and its special teams play. The offensive line is still a question, but Pittsburgh has done a lot to fix the special teams problems. Punter Daniel Sepulveda, back after missing 2008 with a torn ACL, has been punting sky-scraping 50-yard punts with five-second hang times throughout the preseason. And Darren Sproles-sized Stefan Logan, a signing from the Canadian Football League, has finally given Pittsburgh a returner who opposing teams have to worry about. Jeff Reed may be a little bit crazy, but maybe that's what's needed to handle the pressure of kicking at Heinz Field. Heat Index: 8.

Coaching: When Mike Tomlin replaced Bill Cowher, he had to figure out a way to motivate and lead a veteran team that had plenty of success without him. In many ways, it was a more difficult job than trying to take over a woeful team. But Tomlin quickly managed to get the respect of his new team, partly because he didn't change things just to prove he was in charge. Tomlin may have been a 4-3 Tampa Two defensive coach, but he kept defensive wiz Dick LeBeau and his 3-4 zone defense, which has proven to be a brilliant decision. After becoming the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl, there's little doubt this is Tomlin's team now. Heat Index: 9.

Intangibles: The cliche is that it's always tougher to repeat because every team is gunning for the Super Bowl champs. But the Steelers have a much easier path to the playoffs this year than they had last year. In 2008, Pittsburgh had to face the Colts, Titans, Eagles, Giants, Cowboys, Chargers, Ravens (twice), Redskins and Patriots. This year, they have eight games against the Bengals, Browns, Lions, Broncos, Raiders and Chiefs--all games where they should be heavy favorites. If Pittsburgh can stay healthy, making the playoffs shouldn't be a problem. And the ownership is pointed toward that goal -- Pittsburgh didn't sign any significant free agents, but it spent millions to keep the Super Bowl champs together. What the Steelers do in January will determine whether the 2009 season is a success. Heat Index: 9.

Total Heat Index: 44/50. Pittsburgh has won 10 or more games in six of the past eight seasons, and there's little reason to believe they can't reach double digits in 2009. The Ravens are a worthy competitor for the division title, and the Patriots, Chargers, Colts and Titans will make for a very competitive battle for the AFC crown, but the Steelers' defense should ensure they're right in the middle of the playoff battle.

sharkweek
09-02-2009, 05:34 PM
Pretty good summary, although I think the special teams rating might be a bit conservative, although justifiably so. Getting Sepulveda back is huge and Reed really is one of the better kickers in the league (especially considering he has to kick at least 8 games @ Heinz). The biggest question mark is the return game, and that's where it is justified as an 8 overall, although the potential is there for a 9 or 10.

I also think the offense has a chance go up to a 9.

pancake
09-02-2009, 06:23 PM
Pretty good summary, although I think the special teams rating might be a bit conservative, although justifiably so. Getting Sepulveda back is huge and Reed really is one of the better kickers in the league (especially considering he has to kick at least 8 games @ Heinz). The biggest question mark is the return game, and that's where it is justified as an 8 overall, although the potential is there for a 9 or 10.

I also think the offense has a chance go up to a 9.

I think the our st will another team strength...

AllD
09-02-2009, 06:36 PM
Jeff Reed is undeniably crazy, haha.

feuerstarta
09-02-2009, 06:38 PM
I think the our st will another team strength...

I really hope Logan is as good with first team players in regular season as he is in pre. Because if he is we will averagely start from near midfield. That I would agree would be a strength.

pancake
09-02-2009, 07:19 PM
I really hope Logan is as good with first team players in regular season as he is in pre. Because if he is we will averagely start from near midfield. That I would agree would be a strength.

That would be great.... :tt03:

feuerstarta
09-02-2009, 07:41 PM
That would be great.... :tt03:

Yeah but I forgot about one downside. Big Ben in the pun-dents eyes such as trent dumbfer would be a worse because he would lose in yards passed.