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mesaSteeler
12-14-2009, 06:08 AM
Remedies to turn Steelers around
By F. Dale Lolley, Staff writer, dlolley@observer-reporter.com
http://www.observer-reporter.com/or/localsports/12-14-Fixing-the-Steelers

Mike Tomlin has tried the nice-guy approach. He's tried the fire-and-brimstone speeches. He's even threatened and made - at least minor - changes.

Nothing has pulled the Pittsburgh Steelers out of their current five-game losing streak, the longest by a defending Super Bowl champion in a non-strike season.

"He's the head coach. It's his job," said wide receiver Santonio Holmes of Tomlin's different approaches.

"And it's our job to go out and perform the way he wants us to. If we don't go out and perform, it's almost like he's got to go out and eat those words."

Lately, Tomlin's been eating so many words, he's likely skipped a lot of meals.

The question is simple: How do you turn around the Steelers?

At 6-7, the playoffs are only a dream, a situation that didn't seem possible after a 6-2 start. With just three games remaining, there's not a lot Tomlin and the front office can do to initiate change. The final three games will be used to assess who stays and who goes after this season.

"We still have the same makeup of the team from last year, and people are going to question what happened," said wide receiver Hines Ward. "I don't know. I really can't say. But you're going to find out these last three games who wants to quit and who wants to fight their tail off."

The Steelers aren't dead in the AFC playoff race. If they can win their final three games, they'll have a shot at sneaking into the postseason. Given the recent slide, there's no reason to believe that will happen.

So what has happened? How could a team that beat San Diego, Minnesota and Denver, who have a combined record of 27-9 heading into this week, lose to Kansas City, Oakland and Cleveland, three teams with a combined 9-27 record?

Let us count the ways?

Bruce Arians' offensive game plan has gained plenty of yardage, but the main offensive statistic - scoring - hasn't followed suit.

Despite being fourth in the NFL in total offense at 362.5 yards per game, the Steelers are 15th in scoring, averaging 21.4 points per game.

And the offense has been incredibly spotty. After scoring 27 or more points in every game during a five-game winning streak, the Steelers haven't reached that level once in its five-game losing streak. The Steelers have been held under 20 points in six of their 13 games.

Turnovers have played a part in that, as quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has thrown 11 interceptions. Entering the weekend, only seven quarterbacks had thrown more.

More important, however, the performance in the red zone offense is bad. The Steelers are tied for 18th in the league in touchdown percentage inside the 20, getting into the end zone on just 50 percent of those trips.

Add to that the NFL-record eight consecutive games in which the Steelers allowed a touchdown on a return - four on kickoffs, two on interceptions and two on fumbles - and you have a defense that has repeatedly been put in difficult situations.

That added pressure on an aging defense has led to giving up fourth-quarter leads five times.

The Steelers have given up 99 fourth quarter points. That's more than they've allowed in the first half.

Injuries have been a factor. Defensive end Aaron Smith, one of the key's to the run defense, has missed the past eight games. Strong safety Troy Polamalu has been limited to five games.

The Steelers have had injuries in the past and succeeded. Smith's primary backup, 35-year-old Travis Kirschke, has missed four games with a calf injury. Polamalu's backup, Tyrone Carter, is OK as a spot player, but the more he plays, the more his lack of playmaking ability is exposed.

The defense has not forced turnovers. No cornerback has an interception. Polamalu leads the team with three interceptions. Only Cleveland - with six - has fewer than Pittsburgh's eight interceptions.

The cornerbacks are allowing receivers to get behind them. The Steelers have allowed 10 passing plays of 25 yards or more, seven of which have come in their current losing streak. Opponents know that without Polamalu, there's little to fear in Pittsburgh's secondary.

Then, there are the special teams.

Tomlin released fullback Carey Davis and cornerback Anthony Madison - two of the best special teams players in 2008 - in training camp.

Davis was re-signed by the end of September and Madison - after stops in Cleveland and Indianapolis - was brought back two weeks ago.

But it's too late. Pittsburgh ranks 31st in kickoff return average at 25.4 yards - its highest since the 1970 NFL merger - and 23rd in punt return average allowed.

So where do the Steelers go from here?

Changes are coming regardless of what happens in the final three games.

The first will probably come on the coaching staff as Arians, special teams coach Bob Ligashesky, offensive line coach Larry Zierlein and defensive backs coach Ray Horton could be replaced after the season.:applaudit::applaudit::applaudit:

A host of veterans could also be playing their final games here. Nose tackle Casey Hampton, safeties Ryan Clark and Carter, defensive ends Nick Eason and Kirschke, running back Willie Parker, cornerback Deshea Townsend and placekicker Jeff Reed will be unrestricted free agents at end of the season. Right tackle Willie Colon, cornerback William Gay, punter Daniel Sepulveda and tight end Matt Spaeth will be restricted free agents.

Of the unrestricted free agents, a strong pitch will be made to keep Hampton, though others could be brought back after testing the market.

Some other veterans, most notably inside linebacker James Farrior, could see reduced roles in 2010. At 34, Farrior has lost a step and though neither Lawrence Timmons nor Keyaron Fox would be considered thumpers in the middle of the defense, that duo might be paired at times next season.

If Clark and Carter leave, acquiring a veteran safety to play next to Polamalu will be a necessity.

The Steelers also will take long looks at rookie cornerbacks Joe Burnett and Keenan Lewis now to get a better idea if either has the potential to push Gay and Ike Taylor out of the starting lineup next season or whether a cornerback needs to be drafted or signed.

The Steelers made a big deal of having largely the same roster from 2008 back for 2009. And many of those players were key contributors during the 2005 Super Bowl run.

But change can be good, and we'll definitely see some with the Steelers next year.

With cornerstone players such as Roethlisberger, Polamalu, running back Rashard Mendenhall and linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley in place, the Steelers don't need to make wholesale changes.

A subtle makeover will do.

Bobby_Walden
12-14-2009, 06:31 AM
Some cleaning of house is needed.

Defense:

Draft shut down corner RD 1. Sign athletic safety to replace Carter.
Bring Lewis and Burnett along. Starting spots to be earned, not awarded early.
Farrior is no longer a starter.

Offense:

Sign or draft tough runner to back up RM.
Let Spaeth walk. Let Parker walk.
Sign or draft a big bruising TE with hands.

Coaching:

Fire entire offensive staff.
Install run / play action pass offense.
Throw screens more and also throw to the TE over the middle deep as well as always pounding the ball 50% of time, more in qtr 4.
Build an offense that can kill clock and move chains.
If guys play poor, sit them. No loud talk or crying wolf.

MOST important: Establish identity of Steeler ball. Run the ball tough. Have a hard hitting fast D. A nasty attitude.

Vis
12-14-2009, 07:01 AM
Bobby,

I think you left out, "find top-notch OL stuck under seat on school bus."

HometownGal
12-14-2009, 07:42 AM
I have a solution. Kick each and every one of 'em in the ass with a steel toed boot and remind them that they are being paid handsomely to get out there on that field and give 100%. 50% simply isn't going to cut it.

The_WARDen
12-14-2009, 08:24 AM
Step 1: Bend over
Step 2: Remove collective heads out of their collective asses.

That should help.

Godfather
12-14-2009, 08:37 AM
1) Healthy Troy
2) Healthy Aaron Smith

That should fix the defense.

Vincent
12-14-2009, 08:49 AM
Anybody that watched the Iggles / Gints last night might have taken notice of a 6-0 250 lb Leonard Weaver moving the rock for the Iggles in tough situations. They had just gotten him from Seattle as a fullback and when they evaluated him noted that "his best skill" was running the ball. A fullback running the ball. Hmmm. Those tricky Iggles.

I'm old enough to remember that fullbacks can actually run with footballs. So I thought "Hmmm. We have such a specimen right here in Pittsburgh in the 6-2 260 lb. David Johnson.". "Could he run with the ball?" Do you think anybody in the Ariens "brain trust" has ever thought to see if he can carry the ball? And if he could do you think any of the 3 remaining defenses we're to face would be prepared to face such a load? Especially in the 2nd half?

From what little I've observed of said Johnson, we could have a nasty sumbitch to add to the mix. That is if the before mentioned "brain trust" had any use for a :horror: fullback :horror:

stlrtruck
12-14-2009, 09:04 AM
I have a solution. Kick each and every one of 'em in the ass with a steel toed boot and remind them that they are being paid handsomely to get out there on that field and give 100%. 50% simply isn't going to cut it.

As long as we the fans get to do it!

steelpride12
12-14-2009, 09:14 AM
Bob Ligashesky, Larry Zierlein and Ray Horton right off the bat must and hopefully are gone. There are no more exscuses for their poor coaching over the last few seasons ENOUGH!

Arians as I have no comment on this coach I just have that gut feeling Tomlin is going to give him another year due to the fact he won that offense a Super Bowl last season even with a 23rd ranked offense.

1.Clark needs resigned, no better answer than that!
2.Possibly give Gay one more shot at corner next season, but if a veteran replacement is needed early please address.
3. Offensive line remodel, possibly a new center. Colon must go.
4. Compliment back for Mendy, a smaller, faster back. Maybe Parker
5.FIX SPECIAL TEAMS!

SteelStang
12-14-2009, 09:31 AM
1) Healthy Troy
2) Healthy Aaron Smith

That should fix the defense.

I could make the argument that losing Smith has been even more important than losing TP, but I'd get killed for it. If you understand our 3-4 defense, you know that the defensive end position is probably the most important because of what it entails.

1. You are responsible for contain on more than half of the plays.
2. You MUST shut down the run in your inside gap under most calls.
3. You are not the primary pass rusher, but rather, your job is to occupy as many blockers as possible so as to get the LB's through.

There is no question that TP alters games with his play and that is why he is so valuable, but I'm just trying to make the argument AS' absence has also created a major void.

I think our defense could look very different next year. My guess is that we will have at least one new CB, Potsie could be gone or in a much reduced role, and we could be seeing 2 new guys on the front 3.

Angus Burgher
12-14-2009, 10:14 AM
One thing we need to do is CREATE - not fix - the running game.

I know that Mendy has had some good games this season. But let's also consider the fact that he has struggled against awful defenses like Cleveland. Anytime I hear that the Steelers are planning on running the ball, I know we're going to lose.

Now the question is, is it Mendy's fault, the O-Line's, or the coaches'? I think it's a bit of all three.

I think the primary culprits here are the O-Line and the coaches. The blocking schemes that are implemented in most of the games we play are largely ineffective and Mendy is often tackled for a loss or held to a minimal gain. This needs to be fixed. I watched some of the games yesterday and I saw plenty of teams that do what Pittsburgh has been unable to do for years... run the ball effectively. I think the stats are deceiving... we might have the worst rushing attack in the league.

As for Mendy, I think that he needs to work on his technique a bit. I remember hearing that Parker "took him under his wing" when he showed up. Now, I don't want to accuse Willie of sabotaging the kid out of fear that he was going to lose the starting job. However, I think that Parker did his best to teach him how to run the way that he does... which hasn't been effective in a long time. Often, when they switch Mendy out for Parker, I don't realize it because they run the same way and often make the same mistakes. I've never seen two RBs who hesitate so much. And why is it that they are both completely incapable of ever cutting around the outside? Why must they always drive it up the middle and and get stuffed? I know that, for some reason or another, RBs are taught to cut through holes in the middle of the field, but why take that option if the holes aren't there?

Edman
12-14-2009, 10:21 AM
1) Fire Bruce Arians
2) Fire Bob Ligashesky
3) Go Defense in the Draft.
4) Fire Ray Horton
5) Cut the dead weight and age. This includes Tyrone Carter, Deshea, and unfortunately, even Farrior.
6) Remove heads from ass.
7) Fire Larry Zerlein
8) Tell Troy to work on that glass knee.
9) Get rid of Parker
10) Get rid of Hampton
11) Bring someone in with a Steeler tradition physical offensive mentality with balance in the passing game. Someone who can adjust his gameplan accordingly. Someone who isn't allergic to what works. Someone who can maximize the talent of his personnel. Someone who isn't a bubbling idiot with an ego.

plenewken
12-14-2009, 10:58 AM
One thing we need to do is CREATE - not fix - the running game.

I know that Mendy has had some good games this season. But let's also consider the fact that he has struggled against awful defenses like Cleveland. Anytime I hear that the Steelers are planning on running the ball, I know we're going to lose.

Now the question is, is it Mendy's fault, the O-Line's, or the coaches'? I think it's a bit of all three.

I think the primary culprits here are the O-Line and the coaches. The blocking schemes that are implemented in most of the games we play are largely ineffective and Mendy is often tackled for a loss or held to a minimal gain. This needs to be fixed. I watched some of the games yesterday and I saw plenty of teams that do what Pittsburgh has been unable to do for years... run the ball effectively. I think the stats are deceiving... we might have the worst rushing attack in the league.

As for Mendy, I think that he needs to work on his technique a bit. I remember hearing that Parker "took him under his wing" when he showed up. Now, I don't want to accuse Willie of sabotaging the kid out of fear that he was going to lose the starting job. However, I think that Parker did his best to teach him how to run the way that he does... which hasn't been effective in a long time. Often, when they switch Mendy out for Parker, I don't realize it because they run the same way and often make the same mistakes. I've never seen two RBs who hesitate so much. And why is it that they are both completely incapable of ever cutting around the outside? Why must they always drive it up the middle and and get stuffed? I know that, for some reason or another, RBs are taught to cut through holes in the middle of the field, but why take that option if the holes aren't there?

Add a fullback to our run line-up and you'll see the difference.
Didn't Bettis himself need a FB to run through the defenses?

KeiselPower99
12-14-2009, 11:01 AM
Bob Ligashesky, Larry Zierlein and Ray Horton right off the bat must and hopefully are gone. There are no more exscuses for their poor coaching over the last few seasons ENOUGH!

Arians as I have no comment on this coach I just have that gut feeling Tomlin is going to give him another year due to the fact he won that offense a Super Bowl last season even with a 23rd ranked offense.

1.Clark needs resigned, no better answer than that!
2.Possibly give Gay one more shot at corner next season, but if a veteran replacement is needed early please address.
3. Offensive line remodel, possibly a new center. Colon must go.
4. Compliment back for Mendy, a smaller, faster back. Maybe Parker
5.FIX SPECIAL TEAMS!

I dont know if anyone would give him a shot but what about putting Stefan Logan back at Rb. Thats his natural postion and he is fast. Also we need a FB. Johnson or McHugh would be a start but we need a guy thats about 5-10 255 and just likes to hit people.

Vincent
12-14-2009, 11:17 AM
I dont know if anyone would give him a shot but what about putting Stefan Logan back at Rb. Thats his natural postion and he is fast. Also we need a FB. Johnson or McHugh would be a start but we need a guy thats about 5-10 255 and just likes to hit people.

Summers... Summers... Is there a Tank Summers in the house?

Tell Troy to work on that glass knee.

Are you freekin kidding?! I'm amazed he could ever walk again after that @$$hole came down on his knee.

MACH1
12-14-2009, 11:21 AM
Anybody that watched the Iggles / Gints last night might have taken notice of a 6-0 250 lb Leonard Weaver moving the rock for the Iggles in tough situations. They had just gotten him from Seattle as a fullback and when they evaluated him noted that "his best skill" was running the ball. A fullback running the ball. Hmmm. Those tricky Iggles.

I'm old enough to remember that fullbacks can actually run with footballs. So I thought "Hmmm. We have such a specimen right here in Pittsburgh in the 6-2 260 lb. David Johnson.". "Could he run with the ball?" Do you think anybody in the Ariens "brain trust" has ever thought to see if he can carry the ball? And if he could do you think any of the 3 remaining defenses we're to face would be prepared to face such a load? Especially in the 2nd half?

From what little I've observed of said Johnson, we could have a nasty sumbitch to add to the mix. That is if the before mentioned "brain trust" had any use for a :horror: fullback :horror:


That's not the philosophy of the Steelers anymore. Remember? :doh:

devilsdancefloor
12-14-2009, 11:24 AM
Summers... Summers... Is there a Tank Summers in the house?


I think everyone has forgotten he is on IR. I hope he can block & run since we really only got to see bad blocking and no running from him. i hope a year in the system gets him ready to make a splash next year

Dino 6 Rings
12-14-2009, 11:24 AM
Oh let me let me.

1st. Opening kick off, kick the ball out of bounds so the other team starts at their own 40. That'll be better than them starting out with a KO Return TD.

2nd. Defense on the opening drive. Blitz the QB every play and hit him til his nose is broken and his grandparents bleed out of their eyes. Blitz again, always send 5 and drop 6 into coverage.

3rd. Generate a turnover. A CB Int would be very very very Nice.

4th On offense. Ready for it. Run the Ball on EVERY DOWN for the first 30 plays. Don't care if we go 3 and out, we do that already, look at the stats and games. 3/14 on 3rd down against the Browns. Nice, real Nice...why waste Ben's shoulder, hand it off every single time, see what happens. Run Run Run Punt is no different than Run Run Pass Punt. Screw it, lets just run it.

5th. Never ever try a Field Goal longer than 42 yards, just not worth the drama. Go for it, or Punt.

6th. If you punt, Punt it out of bounds so we don't give up any Punt Return Touchdowns either.

7th. Pass defense. Drop 6 into coverage every freaking play and NEVER let Taylor be in man to man with no help over the top, he'll get burned.

8th. When Arians tries to go with a play action pass on 3rd and 1 from our own 40 yard line at play 13 into the game, knowing we aren't passing until play 31, Punch him right in the face. Then Punch him Right In The Face Again so he gets the message.

9th. After play 30, get the Ball to Santonio Holmes. That guy needs 10 touches at least a game. So I guess we can hand him off the ball on reverses as well as throw to him 8 straight times, after play 30 in the game.

10th. Win Rocky Win....Winning Cures all ills....

Vincent
12-14-2009, 11:26 AM
That's not the philosophy of the Steelers anymore. Remember? :doh:

And that is why we are in this mess and why we need to escort Mr Ariens and his minions to the border.

http://usareport.org/images/Tar%20and%20Feather-2.jpg

pepsyman1
12-14-2009, 12:04 PM
I could make the argument that losing Smith has been even more important than losing TP, but I'd get killed for it. If you understand our 3-4 defense, you know that the defensive end position is probably the most important because of what it entails.

1. You are responsible for contain on more than half of the plays.
2. You MUST shut down the run in your inside gap under most calls.
3. You are not the primary pass rusher, but rather, your job is to occupy as many blockers as possible so as to get the LB's through.

There is no question that TP alters games with his play and that is why he is so valuable, but I'm just trying to make the argument AS' absence has also created a major void.

I think our defense could look very different next year. My guess is that we will have at least one new CB, Potsie could be gone or in a much reduced role, and we could be seeing 2 new guys on the front 3.

You are very right SteelStang...I think because we see such glaring problems in the secondary, Smith's absence is overlooked. When the games been on the line in the 4th Qtr our top ranked run defense hasn't been able to stop teams on short down yardage, our premier pass rushers are struggling to get to the QB in the 4th and much of it can be attributed to Smiths absence. His name isn't usually heard a lot during the game, but that's usually because he's busy occupying 2 O-linemen leaving someone else free to be the playmaker.

KeiselPower99
12-14-2009, 02:01 PM
Summers... Summers... Is there a Tank Summers in the house?



Are you freekin kidding?! I'm amazed he could ever walk again after that @$$hole came down on his knee.

Im not convinced he is a FB. I think he could be the answer to the short yardage guy.