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83-Steelers-43
08-26-2006, 11:54 AM
Performance of defense a mixed bag

By Joe Rutter
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Saturday, August 26, 2006


PHILADELPHIA - For the first time during the preseason, the Steelers' first-team defense didn't give up an early touchdown.
And it did show improvement on third-down situations.

Still, the results weren't completely satisfactory for the starters Friday night in the Steelers' 16-7 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field.

There was the matter of three first-half drives that allowed field goals. And the play of the secondary featured two early drops by Ike Taylor and a 61-yard touchdown pass that sailed over Ricardo Colclough.

"We showed some improvement on defense, and we did a better job on third downs, but we dropped some interceptions," coach Bill Cowher said after watching his team drop to 0-3 on the exhibition season. "We had opportunities to get some turnovers that got away from us."

The first-team defense played much of the first half, when the Eagles built a 9-7 lead.

Although the Steelers didn't yield a touchdown in the first 30 minutes, they did allow quarterbacks Donovan McNabb, Jeff Garcia and Koy Detmer to complete 13 of 19 passes for 124 yards.

Unlike, the previous two games, much of that damage didn't come on third down. Against Arizona and Minnesota, the first-team defense allowed 10 of 13 third-down conversions. That included a touchdown by the Cardinals on their first possession and a touchdown by the Vikings on their second.

The Eagles, however, converted one of five third downs against the first team, and they didn't find the end zone until Colclough's blown assignment in the third quarter that resulted in Greg Lewis' deep score.

With Deshea Townsend shelved by a thumb injury, Colclough got the start at right cornerback ahead of Bryant McFadden. Colclough and McFadden alternated after every two series.

In the second quarter, Colclough appeared to make a coverage mistake when McNabb hooked up with Lewis for a 30-yard catch. This led to David Akers' 49-yard field goal and a 6-0 lead for the Eagles.

The damage was more severe in the third quarter when Lewis blew past Colclough for a score that put the Eagles in front, 16-7.

"I was waiting on a particular route, and the receiver got behind me," Colclough said.

Cowher wasn't quite as diplomatic.

"He got beat," he said. "That was on him -- all the way."

Colclough, though, wasn't the only Steelers cornerback to struggle.

Taylor continued to be plagued by the drops that defined his first season as a starter. In the first quarter, he had two interceptions go through his fingers, including one apparent pick that was ruled a an incompletion after an instant-replay reversal.

"He made two good breaks," Cowher said. "I'd like to see him come down with those balls. Larry (Foote) dropped one out there, too. Those are the type of breaks you have to make."

It was reminiscent of Taylor's play last season when he was reliable in providing coverage but still had only one interception in the regular season.

The Eagles were facing second-and-13 from the Steelers' 32 when McNabb looked for Reggie Brown about 10 yards downfield. At the last instant, Taylor stepped in front of Brown and plucked the ball out of the air. As he fell to the ground, Taylor lost control of the ball, but regained it as he rolled over.

Officials quickly ruled an interception. After a television timeout -- and numerous replays on the scoreboards -- Eagles coach Andy Reid challenged the call and successfully had it reversed.

"Near is overrated," Taylor said. "Close isn't good enough. I should have come up with those plays."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/s_467856.html

tony hipchest
08-26-2006, 12:21 PM
the front 7 seem to be ready. they seem to be a foot away from a sack almost every play. im pleased with ikes craftiness and the way he has been breaking on the ball. the interceptions will come. i havent seen enough to tell if polamalu is freelancing yet or if hes just playing the typical safety role. he always seems to be in position and is having no problem chasing down plays.

i think it is important to remember that the steelers have been a second half team. many games they got off to a shaky start last year, only to crack down, start forcing mistakes and imposing their will in the second half. it seems like once lebeau feels out the opponents offense he always has the answers and correct calls.

Midnightwriter07
08-26-2006, 12:31 PM
If teams only ran the ball against us then we would look ok. But we do have to deal with the pass unfortunately and we might as well play SMITH in my opinion cause with the completion percentage teams have on us, we will need hard nose tacklers.

tony hipchest
08-26-2006, 12:37 PM
If teams only ran the ball against us then we would look ok. But we do have to deal with the pass unfortunately and we might as well play SMITH in my opinion cause with the completion percentage teams have on us, we will need hard nose tacklers. just about every team we played last year scored on their openning drive it seems. tennessee, colts, bengals, seattle, patriots, etc all started off like they were gonna kill us and we were in for a long day. the steelers will adjust and find a way to make things happen. i havent seen enough to tell if the shortcomings so far is because of hope not being there, the starters being off the field in the 2nd quarter- 2nd half, or simply from playing vanilla and not gameplanning.

SteelCzar76
08-26-2006, 01:25 PM
If teams only ran the ball against us then we would look ok. But we do have to deal with the pass unfortunately and we might as well play SMITH in my opinion cause with the completion percentage teams have on us, we will need hard nose tacklers.


I agree, (as stated in other threads),....Smith needs to be on the field as much as possible. It's my opinion that you need two STUD safeties,....and at least one elite cornerback,...to maximize a 3-4 d's effectiveness.
Imagine what more coach Lebeau could do if Troy wasn't his only elite DB ? Pressure up front can help a sub par secondary,....but a good secondary can also force "coverage" sacks.
Our problem is that we WASTE time and Draft picks on "average" and or "project" cornerbacks. It's cool to have a few cat's like that to provide depth,......but at some point we have to start taking the position seriously.
You would have thought we had learned something from the "Da lame" Washington, "Chard" Scott fiasco's.


"Hail Caesar,.....Hail the Black and Gold"

Haiku_Dirtt
08-26-2006, 02:12 PM
I agree, (as stated in other threads),....Smith needs to be on the field as much as possible. It's my opinion that you need two STUD safeties,....and at least one elite cornerback,...to maximize a 3-4 d's effectiveness.
Imagine what more coach Lebeau could do if Troy wasn't his only elite DB ? Pressure up front can help a sub par secondary,....but a good secondary can also force "coverage" sacks.
Our problem is that we WASTE time and Draft picks on "average" and or "project" cornerbacks. It's cool to have a few cat's like that to provide depth,......but at some point we have to start taking the position seriously.
You would have thought we had learned something from the "Da lame" Washington, "Chard" Scott fiasco's.


"Hail Caesar,.....Hail the Black and Gold"

We do throw our rookies in the ice box. If Smith isn't a player who Cowher can have faith in then who would be.

This is preseason. This regular season if our opponents go pass happy then at some point in the third quarter when their O-line endurance falls off Keisel will slip through square up and go "Kimo" on their first string QB. As long as we keep it close in the first half we'll take over going into the 4thQ.

Midnightwriter07
08-26-2006, 02:27 PM
No i dont think it has anything to do with HOPE being there.. we were close to last in the league ( i know i have posted this stat numerous times before ) with Hope in allowing teams to complete 3rd downs on us... and I dont think that had to do with our run D... so it is the corners in my opinion and they are wayyyy overrated. I mean how can you be almost last in league in that catagory and then boast on what a great backfield we have ?? taylor showed yet again why he wont get that huge contract with dropping two INT's and Colclough getting beat and if you watchd closely in game.. alot of tackles were missed by our corners and safety's as well.. TROY looked aweful as well.

It seems to me that the only way to correct this is to BLITZ every play ... have SMITH back there to knock the crap out of the TE or receiver after he catches it and hope like hell that thier QB makes mistakes and makes bad throws or the receivers just dont catch the ball cause nothing appears to look any different than it did last year.

Not to beat a dead horse, but this year we may not be as fortunate to wait and hope like hell that others teams lose for us to get into playoffs again.

It is an obvious problem but i have no idea really how to fix it other than to Blitz like hell every play and just hope for the best.

Midnightwriter07
08-26-2006, 02:28 PM
hey , i was gonna give someone a rating .. where did they go to ? i dont see it any longer ??

Stlrs4Life
08-26-2006, 03:10 PM
Sorry, I think ourdefense regressed last night. They were way more effective vs Minnesota. Now, I do keep in mind that Dick Lebeau isn't game planning these games either. At the same time though, i believe Colclough is a mistake if we start him on the 7th.

Haiku_Dirtt
08-26-2006, 08:15 PM
Sorry, I think ourdefense regressed last night. They were way more effective vs Minnesota. Now, I do keep in mind that Dick Lebeau isn't game planning these games either. At the same time though, i believe Colclough is a mistake if we start him on the 7th.

I wouldn't say our corners are way overrated. They are just still a young young group. The regression may be a little critical though if you compare this preseason to last preseason. They looked worse last pre. So I'm trying to keep that in mind.

LeBeau will calibrate. We will probably still give up yardage between the 40 yard lines early in the season. Completely agree about Colclough.

BlackNGold203
08-26-2006, 08:23 PM
Actually..i was pretty pleased with the pressure we applied when rushing only 4 guys...if we can keep that up...should make for some great games....:cool: :cool:

HometownGal
08-26-2006, 09:03 PM
Actually..i was pretty pleased with the pressure we applied when rushing only 4 guys...if we can keep that up...should make for some great games....:cool: :cool:

Good points, everyone and I do have to agree with 203 above. Though I believe the secondary needs to iron out the kinks, I think the line has played pretty well overall. In last night's contest, the Steelers' D rendered 3 sacks, only gave up 2 rushing 1st downs and 41 yards. Not a bad performance I'd have to say.

The Steelers pretty much beat themselves last night and looking back at the game itself, the Eagles won on David Akers' foot (40, 49, 52) with a little help from Coclough's mental mistake.

LarryNJ
08-26-2006, 10:00 PM
if you watchd closely in game.. alot of tackles were missed by our corners and safety's as well.. TROY looked aweful as well.

I was at the game and not really watching it closely and the missed tackles stuck out Troy had a couple. Smith will not be a starter at the beginning of the season but hopefully he'll pick up the play calling quickly and make it into the line up mid season or so. Big plays, Dick Lebeau and the offense controlling the clock have covered up for the weaknesses of the DB's. I believe that will be the case again this year.