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pete74
08-30-2010, 05:25 AM
Back to the drawing board…

With final cut down to our official 53 man roster looming on Wednesday, last night was basically the final chance for players on the bubble to prove they belong on the 2010 edition of the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was also a chance to gain some clarity on several of the position battles waging through camp. And after sixty minutes in the Mile High City, we’ve learned exactly nothing.

Quarterback - Ben Roethlisberger played the first quarter, moving the team effectively and looking sharp with his throws. Watching Big Ben and then the two wannabes to his position left me with only two questions. How rusty will he get while sitting in timeout the first month of the season? And will the team still be remotely in contention when he gets back?

Dennis Dixon got his first meaningful snaps of the preseason. Nothing like waiting to the last minute, Tomlin. Dix had an up and down game. He threw two picks, one a horrifically bad decision on a throw into the end zone. But he also made some nice throws, including a bullet fired between two defenders and a sweet deep out to Hines Ward. The coaching staff was clearly testing him with a variety of patterns and he seemed to have a good grasp of the offense, even though he still has the young player tendency to force things when they’re not there.

The best part of Dixon’s game was his elusiveness. And he needed it because defenders were flying in at him left and right. He mostly used his legs to step up and try to deliver to a receiver but he did have a 29 yard scramble. By my count, he prevented at least four sacks with his ability to move around the pocket.

Then came Byron Leftwich. Byron attempted four passes and misfired on all of them. He was hit on each and every drop back. This was against the second and third string defensive players, mind you. Granted, our first string line would likely protect him (somewhat) better but it’s clear he better be made of iron if he hopes to survive an entire game because he’s going to take a beating.

I’ve been pretty clear I’m on Team Dixon in the Great QB Controversy of 2010. However, I really didn’t like anything I saw yesterday. This team is going to struggle badly without Ben because neither option is looking particularly attractive. At this point, the choice is down to weighing whether Dixon’s potential for bonehead mistakes is better or worse than Leftwich’s potential for taking a 15 yard sack every time he drops back.

Running Back - Rashard Mendenhall does not have a broken arm. Let’s just put that rumor to rest. Jonathan Dwyer had his best showing thus far but it was against fourth stringers so I wouldn’t put much stock in it. Still, I think he showed enough to edge Frank Summers, who has shown nothing, for the final RB spot. Mewelde Moore and Issac Redman will be the other two.

Wide Receiver – Wallace, Ward, Randle-El, and Battle are locks. Emmanuel Sanders had a couple nice catches but he also dogged some plays, one of which resulted in an INT. The amount they use him shows he’s making the team but these mental errors will probably make the coaches question his position on the depth chart.

Antonio Brown was an absolute bust on kickoffs, making a particularly dumb decision to fair catch a ball inside his own 5. I’m leaning toward Stefan Logan getting that job back because you just can’t put your team in a hole like that. Brown has potential but is still pretty raw. They’ll try to sneak him on the practice squad.

Offensive Line - Brutally bad again. Flozell Adams had two false starts and kept getting beat off the edge on pass protection. He’s slow and uncoordinated and is just a disaster waiting to happen. They kept the TE in on a lot of passing plays to help him out because they clearly don’t trust him one-on-one.

The good news is Maurkice Pouncey started at center and other than blowing a couple run blocking assignments, seemed to handle things quite well. The knifing pressure up the middle on runs was mostly gone with him in there. I think he’s established himself enough that he’ll start there from this point forward.

This gives us a (right to left) Adams-Trai Essex-Pouncey-Kemo-Starks line. Essex was also beaten a couple times, although if that was due to missed assignments or just his ineptness is hard to tell. Regardless, the right side of the line is a definite concern.

Doug Legursky can play center in a pinch with Jonathan Scott the best option if The Hotel is demolished. Tony Hills and Ramon Foster have shown they can be decent back-ups. Adding in long snapper Greg Warren, that gives us ten linemen. I can’t see them keeping eleven unless they go with only two TEs (Miller and Spaeth…David Johnson is the third but I think they’ll keep him as a TE/FB hybrid).

Which means Justin Hartwig may have played his last game in the Black and Gold.

Defense - Tomlin’s face in the above clip says it all. A sloppy, undisciplined game by all involved. Tons of bad penalties and lazy mistakes. James Farrior only played a couple plays after he got faceplanted and left with a huge gash.

B-Mac was nursing an injury so Keenan Lewis started in his place. He played a terrible game. Not only did he play five yards off every receiver, he got turned around in coverage several times and missed tackles. To add insult to injury, he took two stupid personal foul penalties which aided Denver drives.

Dick LeBeau is said to be high on him but he does not look ready for primetime. Meanwhile, Willie Gay had an, are you sitting down, interception. So he’s locked up the nickel spot with B-Mac starting by default. Burnett and Lewis will back them up. Rookie Crezdon Butler had a pick so it looks like he’ll edge out special teams ace Anthony Madison for the final secondary spot (assuming they keep nine linebackers. Otherwise, rookie Thaddeus Gibson will probably be snuck on to the practice squad).

Mike Tomlin declared this preseason game a “dress rehearsal” for the regular season. Hopefully when the real thing starts, we’ll see a lot better play than we saw yesterday. While discussing depth charts and who will be the primary return man is fun, unless we get a lot better play from our starting defense and quarterback, not much of it is going to matter in the long run.

Downbylaw
08-30-2010, 05:35 AM
So lets just disregard how the team and qbs played the other 2 preseason games? WOW

jjpro11
08-30-2010, 07:31 AM
how the hell is Arnaz Battle a lock? he's made maybe two catches all preseason and has been invisible on special teams.

Tone's Toes
08-30-2010, 07:48 AM
Well, Battle was given a signing bonus worth over 900k. Not sure the Steelers want to waste that money, but we'll see. Sometimes you gotta bite the bullet.

Also, isn't the deadline to get down to 53 on Saturday the 4th? We play Thursday against Carolina so the guys on the bubble should get one more shot to impress.

jjpro11
08-30-2010, 08:00 AM
Well, Battle was given a signing bonus worth over 900k. Not sure the Steelers want to waste that money, but we'll see. Sometimes you gotta bite the bullet.

yeah, but that was before we drafted 2 talented rookies. Sanders will stay, but if Brown goes to the practice squad, he will get snatched up.

SteeleReign
08-30-2010, 08:29 AM
So lets just disregard how the team and qbs played the other 2 preseason games? WOW

I don't think Pete is disregarding the last two games - he's just commenting on what is apparent from this one.

What's particulary scary is that Tomlin & the coaches considered this one to be our dress-rehearsal?! There was almost nothing positive to take from this performance, quarterback or otherwise.

Sure, Ben looks ready to go, but the poor level of play by the o-line, the secondary, the return game, and the ridiculous penalties make this feel like 2009 again.

No panic here, but I'm beginning to wonder if this team is ready...

TackleMeBen
08-30-2010, 09:02 AM
yet again the Oline sucks. Dixon didnt impress me at all, in fact i wouldnt be opposed to trading him for some decent Olinemen.

i hope this team can stay in it until Ben gets back...

steelcity1974
08-30-2010, 09:05 AM
What's up with the personal fouls on the D? I can understand if they aren't playing their best formations/packages and misssing some tackles because they are just out there to avoid injury, but the penalties from our starters, including last week's title bout on the first play, is what concerns me. It's bad enough the refs don't want to call holding on Harrison (and now Woodley apparently), but we cannot afford to give away cheap yards and first downs like that. I hope they get this crap out of their system in the preseason and it doesn't become a trend. Tomlin better get control of these guys quick.

TackleMeBen
08-30-2010, 09:15 AM
Tomlin better get control of these guys quick.
i agree with that, but part of me doesnt think he will.

SteeleReign
08-30-2010, 09:24 AM
i agree with that, but part of me doesnt think he will.

I agree with you too...I think that is the toughest part of Tomlin's job. As a young & inexperienced coach to come in & start imposing discipline is difficult. I was glad to see him yank Lewis, but we need to see more of this...even with the vets.

feuerstarta
08-30-2010, 09:43 AM
My thoughts

QB-
Ben is our best QB by far, he will be missed. Dixon has potential but needs experience to not make some of those mistakes, He will not get that here and needs to go somewhere else potentially. Leftwitch is slow but that experience is what is needed to not lose the game by forcing throws.

RB-
Mendy the spinner, Still not sold on him, continues to carry that ball loosely. Redmen earned the spot on the team, Very good and carried the ball tight. As for moore did good as the typical 3rd down back. Summers did alright and those chip blocks for FB is him trying to get to second lvl but RBs dont follow him because the inside hole always filled. Dwyer, against 4th stringers looked good, however everyone please make notes that he made a ton of stupid mistakes, out of place, wrong direction, wrong play, and could not pick up a block on blitz. Yes he ran OK but the rest of the RB jobs he sucked at, he will be PS.

OL-
Very Impressed with Pouncey, He anchors the center greatly. However the starting right side of Line scares me. I would use a QB such as DD as trade bait for a guard or tackle. Yes all you Dixon fans will be upset but this is his final year of contract and Ben is our starter for a while, use him like NE and ATL did with their QBs.

CB-
I was glad to see Lewis yanked, however I was disappointed in not seeing Burnett or Butler put in to replace to see how they do. It seems the staff has thing for size and not playing potential. Sorry but being lewis size and always turning around and coming out of backpedal too fast does not make a good corner. Furthermore Lewis Misses way to many tackles, Burnett and Butler got right up in the tackles.

DL-
the Old vets have the huge edge. Now where the heck is Hood???? Wasn't he suppose to be this wrecking force?

LB-
wow if Timmons can be consistant we have a monster LB core and one at MLB.

Safeties-
Im so glad we have 43 back, he makes a huge difference.

TackleMeBen
08-30-2010, 09:43 AM
I agree with you too...I think that is the toughest part of Tomlin's job. As a young & inexperienced coach to come in & start imposing discipline is difficult. I was glad to see him yank Lewis, but we need to see more of this...even with the vets.
absolutely. but i dont think he has the balls to do that. i mean for instants, if ben was playing bad, do you not think cowher would have yanked his butt and put him on the bench.

i think tomlin is a good coach, but i think his problem is he wants to be a players coach and not a coach coach.

SteeleReign
08-30-2010, 09:58 AM
absolutely. but i dont think he has the balls to do that. i mean for instants, if ben was playing bad, do you not think cowher would have yanked his butt and put him on the bench.

i think tomlin is a good coach, but i think his problem is he wants to be a players coach and not a coach coach.

It doesn't surprise me as it would be a little intimidating to come in as a young coach & try to be tough on vets that are as old or older than you are. Of course, it has been done...Cowher comes to mind.

I'm hoping that Mike figures out a way to gain back that credibility he has lost by making threats last year that he didn't keep. It's extrememly difficult to get that back after you've lost it....sorta like the boy who cried "wolf."

TackleMeBen
08-30-2010, 10:36 AM
It doesn't surprise me as it would be a little intimidating to come in as a young coach & try to be tough on vets that are as old or older than you are. Of course, it has been done...Cowher comes to mind.

I'm hoping that Mike figures out a way to gain back that credibility he has lost by making threats last year that he didn't keep. It's extrememly difficult to get that back after you've lost it....sorta like the boy who cried "wolf."
i am hoping he does too, but after last years threats that were nothing but smoke... it makes me wonder.

SteeleReign
08-30-2010, 10:56 AM
My thoughts

I would use a QB such as DD as trade bait for a guard or tackle. Yes all you Dixon fans will be upset but this is his final year of contract and Ben is our starter for a while, use him like NE and ATL did with their QBs.



Who are we going to get for Dixon? Another low-level washed-up vet or failed project? If we're going to trade for an OL, we may as well throw out a big offer to get a big return...someone that's in a contract year maybe...that, or we sit & throw draft picks at it until we get it fixed.

SacknificentStew56
08-30-2010, 11:18 AM
I say let's not push the panic button just yet on Dixon. He forced a throw instead of throwing it out of the end zone and threw another pick which was batted due to not enough separation from Sanders' route running. Yeah, he exceled against the 2nd and 3rd string defenses the two previous preseason games and struggled against a 1st team defense last night. I'm not glorifying his stats but he is still a young and talented QB who we will keep on the depth chart. Just not ready to start as the number 1 QB.

SteeleReign
08-30-2010, 11:23 AM
I say let's not push the panic button just yet on Dixon. He forced a throw instead of throwing it out of the end zone and threw another pick which was batted due to not enough separation from Sanders' route running. Yeah, he exceled against the 2nd and 3rd string defenses the two previous preseason games and struggled against a 1st team defense last night. I'm not glorifying his stats but he is still a young and talented QB who we will keep on the depth chart. Just not ready to start as the number 1 QB.

I agree...Dixon made some boneheaded plays. But, I've seen Ben make the same mistakes...last year.

I'd be more concerned with the o-line regression, the inability to run the ball confidently in short-yardage situations, and the secondary getting beat on 3rd & long again...same old tune...

steelrush
08-30-2010, 12:26 PM
Obviously it was a poor performance from our boys.
A game where, aside Ben’s short time on the field, there weren’t many positive things. Ed Bouchette and Gerry Dulac says it all here (http://www.post-gazette.com/multimedia/?clipId=5068502&topVideoCatNo=178632&autoStart=true).
This (http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10242/1083698-66.stm) article follows suit. :shake02:

SacknificentStew56
08-30-2010, 12:35 PM
Yes he did. That second pick was just a tip off of a deflected pass but that first one should've went to a fan in the stands. Our O-line needs to hit the sled and squat machine twice a day to get a better push against the D line. Pouncey was impressive.

I agree...Dixon made some boneheaded plays. But, I've seen Ben make the same mistakes...last year.

I'd be more concerned with the o-line regression, the inability to run the ball confidently in short-yardage situations, and the secondary getting beat on 3rd & long again...same old tune...

feuerstarta
08-30-2010, 03:06 PM
Im not saying panic on Dixon, His errors can be corrected with experience, but he is in contract year this year. I say trade for OL or OG, he is worth a 2nd round pick. I said ala the way NE and ATL traded their backup QB's in contract years. I think DD has proved enough to warrant a 2nd round pick. Look at some of those linemen that are taken in second rounds, they are far better than Hotel right now. Im sure a couple of teams looking for a qb now are willing to give up a 2nd rd pick or comparable lineman. Id take the deal because I feel he wont be around after his contract is up, his agent said he was displeased with not having the starting option from the get go.

ricardisimo
08-30-2010, 03:29 PM
It was a great game in several regards:

A lot of very silly talk has been quieted down for a while;
We have clarity at QB, or at least usable information;
You learn a lot more from losses than from wins;
Emotional discipline is an issue... Tomlin might want to become slightly less enamored of the word "violent" (if you will).

Just sayin'...

SteelersinCA
08-30-2010, 03:40 PM
I actually like the PF penalties. It shows that we are pissed off. I like playing with a chip. They'll calm down the penalties, that I'm sure of, but the fire I see is nice. I dig it.

LVSteelersfan
08-30-2010, 07:27 PM
Wow, Kordell, oops I mean Dixon, is po'ed because he can't be the starter over Ben. That is just plain stupid that he thinks he is good enough to start over a bona fide franchise QB. He showed exactly why he is nowhere near good enough to be the starter. As I stated earlier, Dixon is a .500 record QB if there ever was one. Flashes of brilliance in the middle part of the field but not so bright when he gets the team close to the end zone and there is no room to run. You have to throw the ball accurately and to an open man in those situations. I don't think he is capable of it at this time. And with that stupid 10 on his uniform I am sure he gave bad flashbacks to Kordell to a lot of Steeler fans. He should not have taken that number.

Don't get me wrong. I have never never liked Leftwich either. I am mostly po'ed that Ben put the team in this situation to begin with.

The defense will be fine. Almost all of them are from the last Super Bowl team. I do not like the way special teams looks though. Brown was hideously awful. Sepulveda didn't look good kicking off. This was Denver where the other kicker boomed it through the end zone every time. Reed needs to go bye bye and the Steelers need a kicker who can handle kickoffs the way they are meant to be. Sepulveda should not have to be a kickoff guy due to the poor kickoffs from a highly paid Reed.

steeltheone
08-30-2010, 07:51 PM
Supulveda is just perfect for kickoffs. An extra tackler means alot..