View Full Version : Steelers forgot about Mendenhall late

11-23-2009, 04:47 AM
Steelers forgot about Mendenhall late
Monday, November 23, 2009
By Gene Collier, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Peter Diana/Post-Gazette

Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall accounted for 116 yards combined rushing and receiving yesterday.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Remember when it was fashionable to trash Rashard Mendenhall, to snark on his fumbling, riff on his evident indecision, bewail his questionable status as a force for good on an offense laced with All-Pros and Super Bowl MVPs?

Well there's good news: Rashard Mendenhall's progression might have made him the best player on the field yesterday. Too bad the rest of the organization blew past him in the opposite direction.

Losing to the Kansas City Chiefs probably isn't the worst thing you can do in this league, but its degree of difficulty might suggest otherwise. Until yesterday, you should note, the Chiefs hadn't won twice in a row in more than two years.

"That is not us; it won't be us, but it was us today," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said in a postgame, fast-distilling a 27-24 overtime loss into an audio edition of US Magazine.

The head coach forcefully accepted full responsibility for the Steelers' second loss in eight days, but it was intriguing that some of the uniformed personnel seemed to indicate general support for that assessment.

["The coaches have to put us in a better position," said Hines Ward, as tenured a Steelers player as you can find and a man who had just wasted a 10-catch, 128-yard performance. "All of us have to look in the mirror, but we're all in this together; the coaches have to evaluate themselves as much was we do."

(The players questioning the competence of the coaches in public! This is bad and very serious. Tomlin better react the right way or he will lose this team. - mesa)

The first thing Tomlin and his offensive staff have to ask themselves is whether they trust Mendenhall to win a game for them, because even though he nearly had done exactly that without authorization in 60 minutes of 600 Steelers mistakes, they still utilized him in the overtime like he was Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Mind you, there would have been no overtime without Mendenhall.

Without Mendenhall, the Steelers lose in regulation.

It was Mendenhall, lest anyone forget, who had the cardio and the will to gallop more than 100 yards to chase down Chiefs linebacker Andy Studebaker at the Steelers' 8 late in the third quarter. Studebaker, making his first career start, had taken off on a coast-to-coast flight with a misdirected Ben Roethlisberger pass he had collected 2 yards deep in his own end zone. Mendenhall turned a certain touchdown into a Chiefs field goal, keeping the score tied at that point, then beat the coverage on a quick post to pull in an 8-yard touchdown pass that put the Steelers back on top, 24-17, with 8:35 remaining.

The blown coverages in the Steelers' secondary, part of a systems-wide breakdown from one end of this Missouri lawn to the other, resulted in a tying touchdown less than four minutes later. But in a game when Mendenhall would account for 116 yards rushing and receiving, the Steelers ran exactly one play for him over two possessions in the final 4:54.

"I felt like we had a good balance between running and passing," Mendenhall said diplomatically.

The imbalanced balance yesterday was 42 passes, 29 runs. The Steelers haven't had a rushing touchdown since Oct. 19, but it looked suspiciously like they were capable of one in the overtime. Mendenhall got 7 yards on a first-and-10, 7 yards on the next first-and-10, then 8 on second-and-10 to the Kansas City 35.

But on third-and-2, or just one first down from a winning field goal, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians sent Mewelde Moore wide right on a toss play. A stampede of red shirts put Moore on the grass for a loss of 3, leaving Tomlin no choice but to punt.

"I guess if they go zero -- and all-out blitz, we might have been able to pop one outside on them," said Charlie Batch, suddenly in the game after Roethlisberger took a knee to the head from linebacker Derrick Johnson. "But they didn't."

"We tried to get a perimeter run there," Tomlin said. "We were at the outer edge of field-goal range."

"I guess we thought we could catch them in something," Ward said. "I cracked down on the end, but it didn't work. If you run something else and it doesn't work, maybe it's fourth-and-1 and you give us a chance. But when you lose 3 yards, you have no choice but to punt. The play call is what it is; we have to execute it."

Four plays later, Chiefs wideout Chris Chambers took a short Matt Cassel pass 61 yards through a fractured Steelers secondary to the spot of the winning field goal.

That the Steelers lost on the road for the third time this year (more than all of last year) is one thing, but that they lost to a team that is 90 percent talent-free speaks poorly of their pridefulness.

"We'll get it corrected, whatever it is," shrugged nose tackle Casey Hampton. "We can still win 12 games, so it don't matter. Twelve will get you in [to the playoffs]."

I don't know if playing 'em six at a time will be very productive, but being a little more trustful of No. 34 certainly ought to be.

Gene Collier can be reached at gcollier@post-gazette.com. More articles by this author

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09327/1015677-150.stm#ixzz0Xg3d8iHP

(Now I'm very worried about the team. As a Civil Engineering project leader who manages 30 million dollar construction projects it's my job to see that I put the right people in the right place in order that they succeed. If they don't succeed then I bear some and sometimes all of the blame for their failure. I also have ALL of the responsibility for getting it fixed.

As a junior engineer I've been on projects where the team lose confidence in the leadership and all of hell breaks lose. Tomlin has to act now because if he loses the faith of the team then this team is going no where fast.

I can not overstate how bad it is to have one of the veteran team leaders publicly question the competence of the coaching staff. Even a win next week won't fix this now that the seed of doubt in the coaching staff have been publicly aired. - mesa)

Fire Haley
11-23-2009, 06:19 AM
Way to go Hines - you have every right to fault the horsecrap calls of Arians - he should be fired immediately.

No boss is too big to be replaced on the job when he sucks, especially when the people who work for him KNOW he sucks and management is too gutless to call for his head I'd say it's about time the coaches get called out in public.

Choking the season away. - one play at a time.

11-23-2009, 06:47 AM
Only way Arians is fired is if the Steelers miss the playoffs. And I am not to sure he would get fired then, because Ben has his head up Arian's a$$!!!

Oh, and let's not forget the Special Teams coach. See Ya numb nuts!

11-23-2009, 06:47 AM
There are other alternatives to firing Arians. Tomlin could tell Arians that he wants more running in the game plan or Tomlin could take over the play calling duties himself. Tomlin could also demote Arians but I don't think that would work well.

If Tomlin fires Arians then the problem arises who will take the position of OC?

Of course I don't know what Tomlin has already done except to know that it was insufficient.

However with a veteran leader such as Ward calling out Arians publicly I do think Tomlin must act or else the team will collapse. This team is more fragile than I thought. The situation is analogous to a group of sergeants losing confidence in an officer. An officer can not function if his sergeants don't believe in his leadership. Arians can not function if he loses the team leaders in the locker room.

The sitution is not beyond repair but it can not be allowed to fester either.

How Tomlin handles this will tell us what kind of coach he is.

Fire Haley
11-23-2009, 07:00 AM
They have already collapsed.

Get old man Rooney back on the sidelines, this crap has gone on long enough.

One more choke loss and the season could be over.

11-23-2009, 07:14 AM
While Tomlin, Ligashesky and Arians all factor into the loss yesterday, the players need to take a lot of the responsibility themselves, particularly on the D side of the ball. The O didn't give the Chiefs 27 points (other than the pick that resulted in the tying FG) so where is the ire directed at Dick Lebeau (though I would laugh at that notion). Personally, I've been around long enough to know that sometimes, even the creme de la creme of NFL coaches and assistants make mistakes but I'm still sticking with my belief that the players are the ones out there on that field and are 90% responsible for executing those plays to the best of their abilities. Sorry.

Fire Haley
11-23-2009, 07:27 AM
Of course the players are to blame too, Tomlin has let this team go soft, no more days off for these prima-donnas.

11-23-2009, 07:34 AM
If Batch is questioning the call, like it sounds he is, wouldn't the proper time to question it be at the line of scrimmage before he runs to play. I believe he has the ability to look at the defense and call an audible or ever call a timeout and tell the coach, "This play just isn't going to work."

Everyone need to take responsibility for what we saw yesterday. EVERYONE!

11-23-2009, 07:38 AM
Exactly the drum I've been beating. BA is pass happy and will not ever recognize the necessity of running the ball!!!

Fire Haley
11-23-2009, 08:08 AM
Passing is good - it scores points. There's a time to play smart too - you have a 10 point lead - you run the ball, bust them in the mouth by running the ball down their throats and they give up.

When we needed a game manager we got a brain damaged turnover machine that lost the game.

11-23-2009, 08:09 AM
For every team that plays us this year, it's their Super Bowl. And with the exception of the stains, they have played like it was.

IMHO, we have the most talent of any team in the league, and certainly enough to make another solid run this year, and for years to come. So how is it that teams with even mediocre talent step up to play the mighty Steelers, make a game of it, and some actually win?

Yeah, the players get jacked up for us and play way over their heads. Kids come off the bench and play like pro bowlers. That's to be expected when you carry the bullseye of champion. Everybody takes their "shot at the title". And playing against that every week is a grind.

Another element is the opposing coaches who get their teams ready to make a serious run at the champs. And again, with the exception of the stains, they have. They've schemed us well and have done a credible job of putting their kids in position to win.

IMHO, for at least the last decade our Achilles Heel has been coaching. Go back to the 98 season. We were 7-4 going into Detroit for Thanksgiving. Same kind of bizarre loss (as yesterday) that sent us into a tail spin. Closed out the year with 4 more losses against teams we should have beaten to go 7-9. No playoffs. Korky needed a rubber room. Carnell couldn't get out of Pittsburgh fast enough.

I put that squarely on the coaches. The company made the investment in the talent. They hired managers to return on that investment. Coaching's job is to prepare talent to win. That's why they "coach". Even Peyton Manning has coaches. Coaching's job is to scheme with the talent they have to beat the talent they face. Their job is to prepare, discipline, motivate and put players in position to win. Patten scared the hell out of the krauts because he did just that, and he did it with inferior armor.

In "America's Game" the 74 season, Dwight comments on the conventional wisdom of Noll being "a great teacher". He disagreed and noted that Noll's great success came from his ability to manage all that talent and the associated egos. I think it was both that won 4 in 6.

That ability to get the high return on investment is what set Noll apart, and is sorely lacking in recent administrations. Yes, we have 2 new Lombardis since the Noll administration. With the talent we had with Cowher, we should have had several more. And I think the current administration is not measuring up to even Cowher in managing their talent.

What we see for the balance of this season will reveal Tomlin. It looks eerily like 1998.

Dino 6 Rings
11-23-2009, 08:26 AM
I was at this game in person. Drove 3 hours to the Stadium, saw that HALF the crowd was Steelers fans, plus there were at least 5,000 empty seats in Arrowhead...

but what I saw was the FOCUS of the ENTIRE TEAM was not in this game, from opening kickoff to the let down after a 10 point lead following 17 unanswered points.