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pete74
10-28-2011, 05:21 AM
Can the Pittsburgh Steelers’ great 3-4 defense evolve to avoid being exploited by the likes of Tom Brady(notes) and other high-profile quarterbacks who have picked the Steelers apart since 2006? That’s the theme Sunday when New England visits Pittsburgh. This is the only game the Steelers have during the regular season against a quarterback who can run the four-wide formation with stunning efficiency.


Troy Polamalu and the Steelers couldn't stop Tom Brady and the Patriots in their last regular season meeting.
(Getty Images)

These are the two most dominant franchises in the NFL over the past decade. They have combined to represent the AFC in seven of the past 10 Super Bowls, winning five. History is nice, but it ignores one significant issue for Pittsburgh: If the Steelers don’t figure out a way to handle the constant spread-formation offenses they face against really good quarterbacks like Brady, Aaron Rodgers(notes) and Drew Brees(notes), their chances of winning another Super Bowl could become extinct.


As noted by Yahoo! Sports before the last Super Bowl, Brady, Rodgers and Brees have lit up the Steelers over the past five seasons. That point was galvanized in a 31-25 loss to the Packers and Rodgers in the title game. Rodgers completed 24 of 39 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns on the way to being named the game’s MVP.

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Pittsburgh players and coaches counter that by saying it took a couple of superhuman throws by Rodgers to secure that win. If Rodgers didn’t hit one of two clutch tosses in traffic to Greg Jennings(notes), the game likely would have turned out differently, the argument goes.


That point ignores the bigger picture. Since 2006, the Steelers are 3-6 in games against Rodgers, Brady, Brees, Peyton Manning(notes), Eli Manning(notes) and Kurt Warner(notes). Moreover, they have allowed 30 points or more in five of those nine games and at least 20 in all of them. Those quarterbacks have combined for a stunning 106.3 rating (248 completions on 382 attempts, 2,955 yards, 23 touchdown passes and only two interceptions).

Dick LeBeau, Pittsburgh’s Hall of Fame defensive coordinator, was unfazed by those numbers. As he talked about it in August during training camp at St. Vincent’s College, he seemed more perturbed by the afternoon rain.

“I don’t think you’re going to see a substantial change in how we do things,” LeBeau said, a light smile opening across his face. “Those quarterbacks have hurt a lot of people. That’s why they are so good … I don’t really worry about a lot of the numbers. I only worry about how many points they score and whether we have more than they do by the end of the game.”

Likewise, safety Troy Polamalu(notes) explained succinctly why it’s unlikely for the Steelers to substantially change what they do.



[Yahoo! Sports Radio: John Lynch on Rams, Cowboys and Tebow]



“We’re not built to sit back in coverage and wait for the quarterback to decide,” Polamalu said. “What we do is force the quarterback to decide faster.” He then shrugged his shoulders slightly and said, “We either get there before he gets rid of it or we don’t.”

Mostly, the Steelers haven’t been winning that race, particularly against Brady. In the aforementioned nine games, the Steelers have only 11 sacks. In the two against Brady, they have zero as he has picked the Steelers apart. Brady has completed 62 of 89 passes for 749 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions in two games against Pittsburgh since 2007, when the Patriots started using more four-receiver formations as the base of their offense. New England has won those two games by an average of 17 points.





Vulnerable defense

Over the past six seasons, the Steelers have played nine games against quarterbacks who have led their team to a Super Bowl during that same stretch. Here are the results of those games.



Season

QB

Yards

TD

INT

Sacks

Results



2010

Aaron Rodgers

304

3

0

3

W 31-25



2010

Tom Brady

350

3

0

0

W 39-26



2010

Drew Brees

305

2

1

2

W 20-10



2009

Aaron Rodgers

383

3

0

1

L 37-36



2008

Kurt Warner

377

3

1

2

L 27-23



2008

Eli Manning

199

1

0

0

W 21-14



2008

Peyton Manning

240

3

0

2

W 24-20



2007

Tom Brady

399

4

0

0

W 34-13



2006

Drew Brees

398

1

0

1

L 38-31


Note: Excluded is Kurt Warner’s game against the Steelers in 2007, when he entered the contest as a backup.





The game last year wasn’t as close as the 39-26 score indicated. Pittsburgh was down 23-3 going into the fourth quarter. Brady finished with three touchdown passes, all to tight end Rob Gronkowski(notes), and scrambled for another.

“What the Steelers have always done is try to make the quarterback think faster than he’s used to and force a mistake,” an NFC offensive assistant coach said. “It’s really as simple as that. Now, the way they do it is complicated. They’re erratic by intention. But if you have a quarterback who can think faster than they can, who can recognize the holes in the defense, you can get to them because they’re not going to sit back in a bunch of umbrella zones and rush two people.

“It’s just not who they are.”


At least it hasn’t been who the Steelers have been to this point. One might think that nine straight games of getting torched might cause the Steelers to rethink their approach at least slightly.


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Certainly, other teams have taken different approaches against Brady. Last year in the AFC playoffs, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan and his players baffled Brady by dropping into coverage much more than going after him. While the Jets eventually got five sacks and one interception, it was largely because Brady was forced to hesitate so much, not because the Jets got to him so quickly.


Over the past two games, Ryan and his brother Rob, who is the defensive coordinator with the Dallas Cowboys, have done that again. While both the Jets and the Cowboys lost, they sacked Brady a total of seven times, intercepted him three times and held the high-scoring Patriots to their two lowest-scoring games of the season. In fact, it took a last-minute drive by Brady to beat Dallas.

When you throw in the fact that both of the Ryans run primarily 3-4 defenses, you have to wonder if the Steelers might finally take a hint and do a little more coverage.

LeBeau just smiles at the thought.

“We’ve been pretty successful around here for a long time with the way we do it,” LeBeau said

Bayz101
10-28-2011, 05:35 AM
Well for the past decade we've had a defense which is notable for it's ability to put pressure on the quarteback. We've always been a team with multiple sacks, and a feared, physical defense.

When you look at this last decade, one thing we haven't really excelled in, is coverage. We have always had a less than excellent coverage team, and with Brady, you NEED to be excellent at that postition.

Here we are with the number one pass defense in the league. So, do you think it's time we beat this Patriots team? Sure seems like it to me :wink02:

GO STEELERS! :tt02:

Rick5895
10-28-2011, 06:24 AM
One of the reason we have been so succefull is we don't change to beat just one or two teams. We have the personell to run the 3-4 so that what we do, while it would be nice to beat the Cheats, changing our entire defensive scheme just o beat them seems counter productive to me. Some of those QB's mentioned on the top are great players who will light up pretty much any defense. We lost the super bowl last season because we had turnovers at critical times in the game. Mendys fumble was critical as we were running the ball well and had them on there heels and of course the pick six.
When playing Brady, Brees and Rodgers we have to play pretty much mistake free football on offense , because they do, if we don't we will have a difficult time winning, no matter what defensive scheme we run.

Bayz101
10-28-2011, 06:33 AM
One of the reason we have been so succefull is we don't change to beat just one or two teams. We have the personell to run the 3-4 so that what we do, while it would be nice to beat the Cheats, changing our entire defensive scheme just o beat them seems counter productive to me. Some of those QB's mentioned on the top are great players who will light up pretty much any defense. We lost the super bowl last season because we had turnovers at critical times in the game. Mendys fumble was critical as we were running the ball well and had them on there heels and of course the pick six.
When playing Brady, Brees and Rodgers we have to play pretty much mistake free football on offense , because they do, if we don't we will have a difficult time winning, no matter what defensive scheme we run.

I agree that we don't need to change our entire defensive plan just to beat a team. But our defensive plan, no matter what it is, shouldn't be limited to just beating teams outside of the Patriots and Manning's Colts. Out defense needs to overcome adversity, not dodge it.

When our defense and offense work hard out their, we win. And with our #1 defensive secondary, I have a feeling any adversity thrown our way this Sunday will be conquered.

And it pretty much comes down to, who makes the mistakes. Great post Rick.

GO STEELERS!

steelfury02
10-28-2011, 11:12 AM
The past games against GB (SB 45) and Halloween game against NO we kept it pretty close. I think we have been on the right track and maybe finally our offense can do their part by not turning the ball over and getting 7 instead of 3 in the red zone.

I think win or lose - we'll make it a close one - I think this group is too proud to let them stomp them at home again. You just never know - I think the one advantage our team has in this game is that the pressure is squarely on the Patriots to beat us yet again. We're the underdog - which is exactly where I want us to be.

I'd argue our offense is more capable of scoring at this point than the last time we played them plus who knows - we might have some young guys with more experience - that could finally be a great equalizer! We'll find out - have full confidence we don't lose twice in a row in huge AFC games at home.

StainlessStill
10-28-2011, 11:44 AM
I heard a Lawrence Timmons interview claiming that the Steelers tend to go into the same gameplan as they did last year against New England.

And then my butthole puckered up.:banging:

stlrtruck
10-28-2011, 12:32 PM
I think our coaches are stubborn in the sense that they don't make very good game time changes when it's apparent that the original game plan isn't working.

DanRooney
10-28-2011, 02:54 PM
Timmons should be shadowing Gronkowski the entire game. I doubt they let Gay have another crack at him. We all know he's not too great against tall receivers/TEs. That probably means Gay and Clark will be on Welker with Ike covering Chad.

DanRooney
10-28-2011, 02:55 PM
I heard a Lawrence Timmons interview claiming that the Steelers tend to go into the same gameplan as they did last year against New England.

And then my butthole puckered up.:banging:

I honestly hope not. I remember Woodley clearly saying they just threw away that defensive gameplan after the game.

Fire Arians
10-28-2011, 03:04 PM
Timmons should be shadowing Gronkowski the entire game. I doubt they let Gay have another crack at him. We all know he's not too great against tall receivers/TEs. That probably means Gay and Clark will be on Welker with Ike covering Chad.

I'd say put lewis on gronkowski. he's taller than gay and has those long gorilla arms, he has a better chance. timmons is fast but i dont know if hes fast enough to hang with gronk

Sixburgher
10-28-2011, 03:05 PM
I heard a Lawrence Timmons interview claiming that the Steelers tend to go into the same gameplan as they did last year against New England.

And then my butthole puckered up.:banging:

Of course Timmons would divulge exactly what they're going to do.

Fire Arians
10-28-2011, 03:23 PM
Of course Timmons would divulge exactly what they're going to do.

he probably was talking about the offense. bruce arians always goes into every game with the same gameplan

tanda10506
10-28-2011, 03:37 PM
Timmons hopefully would not say what we are actually going to do, but if we use that game plan again then I would say we need to get a new D coordinator next year, I can't imagine LeBeau is that ignorant to replay that embarrassment last year. I don't read much into that "list" of qb's we lost to, brady continues to beat us, but peyton does not, eli doesn't even belong on that list that he has one game on, we beat Warner in the SB, we are 1-1 vs Rodgers, I just don't read much into it. All that said, changing the entire D gameplan is neccessary sometimes, the jets would have been watching the afc championship game at home if they didn't change their plan. Just because you change it to beat a team doesn't mean you have to play like that next game, but when a team mops the floor with you over and over, you don't keep doing the same thing.

dcsteel5804
10-28-2011, 04:19 PM
My take on it is this:

I think we can do better. There are plays that the defense should have made last year against the Pats that we didn't ( I can't remember them specifically ). I think we have to play our best defensive game possible. No missed tackles, blown assignments, etc. If those things happen, Brady and Co. will exploit them.

I've heard alot of people saying we need to blitz Brady hard, and others saying we need to play coverage. I think its a mix of both. We need to keep them guessing what we're going to do, instead of the other way around. To do that, we need to stop the run. We need to make them be one dimensional. After they have to pass on every down, we can mix it up and keep them off balance.

However, the fact of the matter is, the Patriots are going to score some points. Period. I don't forsee a scenario where we hold them to 10 or even 17. That said, we need our Offense to put up atleast 4 TD's and maybe a couple filedgoals. I would also say that we need to win the turnover battle.

If and only those things happen will we win. If those things don't happen, we will definitely not win. Just my 2 cents.

steelerjim58
10-28-2011, 07:19 PM
With all of the rule changes, the offense of this NFL will turn more and more to the 4-5 wide concept. The best chance to at least slow it down will be a great pass rush. And it will have to come from the front four. IMO, the 3-4 d will be obsolete in a couple of years. A team will have to down linemen like Oakland and Tennessee who can get after the qb. And also an offense that can score 20+ points consistently. Just my thoughts.

steelerchad
10-28-2011, 07:36 PM
I think the Steelers have already adjusted. They had a dominating run D last year. One of the best of all time, but they got beat regularly through the air and were middle of the pack against the pass. This year, they are #1 against the pass and middle of the road against the run. This is a passing league now and stopping the pass is paramount. They have adapted so far, but a huge test Sunday stands before them. We will know Sunday night.

theplatypus
10-28-2011, 07:46 PM
he probably was talking about the offense. bruce arians always goes into every game with the same gameplan

Right, like he did against the Titans, Jags,and then the Cards. Same ole shit from the CLC it's just :blah::blah::blah::blah::blah::blah::blah::blah:

tanda10506
10-28-2011, 09:53 PM
Right, like he did against the Titans, Jags,and then the Cards. Same ole shit from the CLC it's just :blah::blah::blah::blah::blah::blah::blah::blah:

2nd half against Jacksonville was the same game plan as always, and the Cards game wasn't far from it, the only game that Arians has actually called "well" was the Titans game.

theplatypus
10-28-2011, 10:16 PM
2nd half against Jacksonville was the same game plan as always, and the Cards game wasn't far from it, the only game that Arians has actually called "well" was the Titans game.


more blah blah blah

In the Titans game the defense was trying to take away the deeper stuff and Arians went after the underneath stuff. In the Jags game the defense did the exact opposite and the game plan reflected that. Nice try though. Now you can go back to your typical blah blah blah

Next you'll probably try," not on the 2nd drive of the 3rd quarter..."

Fire Arians
10-28-2011, 10:18 PM
heh, arians apologists. i guess you're content with mediocrity, others aren't

theplatypus
10-28-2011, 10:22 PM
heh, arians apologists. i guess you're content with mediocrity, others aren't

Not at all, just tired of the same old BS from the chicken little crew.

Fire Arians
10-28-2011, 10:28 PM
Not at all, just tired of the same old BS from the chicken little crew.

what, the 90-95% of steelers fans who want bruce arians out of town? lol

steelbad@50
10-29-2011, 11:57 AM
what, the 90-95% of steelers fans who want bruce arians out of town? lol

I'm not a big Arians fan either, some of his play calling at crucial points in the game have come into question numerous times when the outcome sucks. But its not as if they havent practiced those plays during the week. What i am trying to say its the players that execute those plays during the game, not Arians. Tomlin needs to get more involved with the offensive play calling, especially on crucial downs. It has been said on other threads RUN THE BALL. Makes sense to me because in order to beat the Pats keeping the ball away from Brady, controling the time of posession is what it may take to beat them. Of course we have to be successful in the run game which hasnt always been the case this season. :banging:

theplatypus
10-29-2011, 12:23 PM
I'm not a big Arians fan either, some of his play calling at crucial points in the game have come into question numerous times when the outcome sucks. But its not as if they havent practiced those plays during the week. What i am trying to say its the players that execute those plays during the game, not Arians. Tomlin needs to get more involved with the offensive play calling, especially on crucial downs. It has been said on other threads RUN THE BALL. Makes sense to me because in order to beat the Pats keeping the ball away from Brady, controling the time of posession is what it may take to beat them. Of course we have to be successful in the run game which hasnt always been the case this season. :banging:


Our problems have far more to do with consistent execution than the plays themselves. The chicken little crew complain about the bubble screens, but fail to acknowledge the missed blocks that consistently lead to them failing(Hines and Heath are frequently culpable). Similar situation in the running game, they bitch about Mendenhall or Arians calling a run, but swallow the whiffed blocks by the oline like they were some $2 hooker. Bitch about Arians calling deep routes, but don't acknowledge that the defense has 9-10 men on the LOS taking away the high percentage short routes. They also fail to accept that Ben gets greedy and frequently pumps or looks off open receivers underneath for long passes. They bitch about "veteran favoritism", but ignore the young ones missing blocks, hot reads, running the wrong routes...
I guess what I'm saying is the chicken little crew loves to complain about crap, but most of them don't have clue about what the **** they're looking at.

tanda10506
10-29-2011, 12:53 PM
more blah blah blah

In the Titans game the defense was trying to take away the deeper stuff and Arians went after the underneath stuff. In the Jags game the defense did the exact opposite and the game plan reflected that. Nice try though. Now you can go back to your typical blah blah blah

Next you'll probably try," not on the 2nd drive of the 3rd quarter..."

No, next I just wont be a homer like you, the Texans game was horrible and we did not go for the short passes. So go on with your blind homer blah blah

theplatypus
10-29-2011, 12:57 PM
No, next I just wont be a homer like you, the Texans game was horrible and we did not go for the short passes. So go on with your blind homer blah blah


Newsflash for you pal the topic at hand was Arians doesn't change his game plan and I gave examples to debunk that bullshit theory. Meanwhile you decide to go off in a total different direction and deflect. Nice try, but next time stick to the topic at hand.

Bayz101
10-29-2011, 01:09 PM
I don't care for Arians much myself. When Ben get's the opportunity to audible and run the no huddle, we perform much better. I noticed last week Ben was calling an audible at the line, and the play resulted in a first down gain of 8+ yards.

Ben is a great quarterback, but his bag of tricks is being held by Arians. He has lobbied for the no-huddle, and didn't receive it. Hell, look at Ben's game winning Super Bowl drive in against the Cardinals...According to Arians himself, Ben called numerous plays himself during that drive.

Many of the plays Arians called weren't used for that drive. The Steelers Offensive Line trainer at that time reported him as saying "That's not my play" several times.

End Result: 6th Super Bowl ring.

theplatypus
10-29-2011, 01:15 PM
I don't care for Arians much myself. When Ben get's the opportunity to audible and run the no huddle, we perform much better. I noticed last week Ben was calling an audible at the line, and the play resulted in a first down gain of 8+ yards.

Ben is a great quarterback, but his bag of tricks is being held by Arians. He has lobbied for the no-huddle, and didn't receive it. Hell, look at Ben's game winning Super Bowl drive in against the Cardinals...According to Arians himself, Ben called numerous plays himself during that drive.

Many of the plays Arians called weren't used for that drive. The Steelers Offensive Line trainer at that time reported him as saying "That's not my play" several times.

End Result: 6th Super Bowl ring.



Good lord, the mythical unicorn that is the no huddle has been spotted again. How did that plan work out against GB?

When did "offensive line trainers" start designing or calling plays?

steelfury02
10-30-2011, 01:34 PM
I'm glad I didn't miss this opportunity to represent "the chicken little crew"

Sorry, I forgot to make sure I knew every single position, scheme and situation before and after every snap on both sides of the ball.

Kanata-Steeler
10-30-2011, 01:44 PM
Too damn "STUBBORN" to lose !
:)