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Steelers notes on the Colts game
Willie Colon, after a first test, appears to be the guard that many believed he could be. He does not simply play well, he plays as a guard well. He is physical and aggressive, and while not quite yet a thing of beauty, he is effective on the move. At one point, he perfectly diagnosed and reacted to a stunt, passing the end off to Gilbert to engage the tackle. It was a very encouraging performance.
As for Gilbert, he most certainly passed the test at left tackle. Outside of one particularly poor series, he played very well overall. He had a surprising chemistry with Colon for most of the time they were in together. There were many times where he blew his man out of the hole in run blocking, even coming off a block to make another one further afield. On the first play after Rainey took a hit in the head, he and Colon teamed up to pancake the nose tackle.
On the first play after Brown’s touchdown, both Gilbert and Colon were asked to get in space for a screen pass to Rainey, and neither looked comfortable, coming up short in their blocks. This is something that could be worked on. On the next play, he peeked back at Colon as the ball was snapped and got caught by the pass rusher, getting driven back into Roethlisberger’s face. On the following play, he struggled to hold a block and forced Roethlisberger to check down on a play that had no chance of a first down, although it was about 4 seconds in to the play. He also had a false start.
There’s really not too much to say about Pouncey. While not perfect, he had a very good game, particularly in support. He has excellent hand work, keeping defenders out of his chest. I didn’t really even take any specific notes on his play because it’s just what I expect from him at this point.
While David DeCastro undeniably played well, he too was not perfect. For the second time in two games, he tried to help to his right, but ended up pushing the defender off the block instead, although this time it did not result in a sack. He needs to make sure that his help is actually helping. Also, when he gets downfield, he needs to do a better job of engaging and staying with his man. He is still overpowered on occasion and could stand to get stronger. On one passing play, he did not get to the man in front of him quickly enough and he stunted around the left tackle to register a quarterback hit.
On the positives, he actually played out in space even better than last week in terms of engaging. I think this is something that he will improve upon as he accumulates reps. He never appears to be fooled or beaten technically, but rather by speed and power. He plays with aggressiveness and constantly looks for somebody to block, although at times he could do better selecting who he blocks upfield.
Ramon Foster played much better, both at right tackle and left guard, then he played last week. Following the draft and Colon’s move to tackle, I was greatly anticipating Foster getting reps at tackle, and it is a source of great comfort to me that he performed as well as he did at right tackle. Unfortunately I didn’t take as many notes on Foster as I would have liked, but I don’t recall him ever looking out of place. With the increased amount of plays in which the team runs left, it kind of seems like he’s inclined to give 75% effort when he knows his man won’t have a shot at making the play (typical of Max Starks and Jonathan Scott on the left side in recent years), but I don’t have much to complain about. On the play before Roethlisberger’s interception, Foster struggled a bit with his man, forcing Will Johnson to give him an assist rather than occupy the free linebacker. I honestly do not have him registering a hurry that impacted a play.
Mike Adams certainly had his ups and downs. Once again, he did well in the running game, but had some key demerits in pass protection. On his first play, he and Leonard Pope are key to opening the hole for Dwyer’s big run. He had a lot of good, aggressive blocks in the run game, though there were flaws there as well. When he’s in pass protection, he rarely uses his long arms to his advantage, and in doing so allows the defender to get his hands inside, even up to his neck, allowing the defender the leverage to bounce off and around him, which resulted in about 3 or 4 pressures and a late sack with Johnson in at quarterback. At times, he was able to recover before allowing the defender to get into the quarterback’s face, but that’s not necessarily a skill you want to employ too often.
I don’t really have much to say about the rest of the linemen. Trai Essex and Kelvin Beachum were literally tossed around not infrequently. They have about as many poor plays as good. Ryan Lee and Chris Scott continued to play well, although they only entered the game on the last drive against future Burger King employees. John Malecki was inconsistent, including giving up a sack. Doug Legursky did not have much of a day to speak of. He was not asked to do much, but did his job well. Kyle Jolly did not even play.
As far as the tight ends go, Heath Miller continued to demonstrate why he is one of the most complete tight ends in the league. He has yet to catch a pass, but this is not something that needs work. He has great vision anywhere on the field, and excellent awareness for where help is needed. He’s simply a very good blocker. Not perfect, but well above average.
Leonard Pope actually had much more of a mixed bag of a day than I’d expected to find when I watched the game live. As far as receiving goes, he caught both balls that went his way, in one instance coming off a block to do so. For blocking, he had some great ones and some poor ones. On Brown’s touchdown, for example, while he did get just enough to prevent his man from getting involved in the play, the block itself was poor. On the other hand, as previously mentioned, he threw a great block on Dwyer’s big run.
He had multiple blocks in which he completely turned his man out of a hole. Then he has others where he is easily beaten and as a result forces a negative play. There are at least two or three instances where his failed block specifically caused a negative play. He was more consistent in the first game, and I hope he is more so in the future. I see enough in some of his blocks to know that he is more than capable of actually doing it, so the inconsistency is frustrating.
Anybody that says that David Paulson is not a blocking tight end simply has not watched him very closely during these two preseason games. He’s beginning to look like a Pittsburgh Steelers tight end, and it might be difficult to keep him off the roster. Unfortunately I didn’t take many notes of specific plays, but I don’t recall him having any errors. He clearly has soft hands and can make some moves once he’s got the ball. He ran a route or two out of the backfield, although I don’t believe he blocked at all from that position.
Weslye Saunders hardly played. He had one nice pass catch, and that’s about it. Jamie McCoy can not block out of the backfield. He simply does not have the runner’s vision necessary to know where he’s needed. There are at least 2 or 3 plays in which he completely makes the wrong decision out of the backfield that led to either a pressure or a short gain that could have been much more. Justin Peele, on the other hand, played like a veteran tight end. He’s not just a camp body. He has a chance to make the roster.
The blocking of the starting wide receivers was very disheartening. As much as Brown likes to praise Baron Batch and others for making plays for him with their blocks, he didn’t put much effort in returning the favor. And on Roethlisberger’s keeper, Emmanuel Sanders hardly even gave an effort to block. If he had, then there would have been a lot of room to run. I assume that Roethlisberger saw this and is why he did it. Sanders had that one “business decision” ball come his way. Brown obviously made some plays, but he also dropped two passes, though one was low.
The only other receiver that really had much of an impact was obviously David Gilreath. He got open, he made tough catches, and he showed elusiveness and the desire necessary to get tough first downs. He’s also a blocker and a special teamer. Toney Clemons did have one catch as well and is a bit of a blocker.
Jonathan Dwyer takes what is given to him. He seems to have better vision than I’d previously given him credit for and cuts it back when he sees there’s nothing there. Baron Batch had little to work with, but I also don’t think he always took the best path. He plays without hesitation or fear though. He had a couple of flaws in pass protection (in one instance both he and Will Johnson failed to block a defender on a double team and he forced a hurry on third down), but his reputation as a blocker is not undeserved. Chris Rainey was clearly a different player from last week after taking that collision, and I believe him when he said he had trouble keeping his feet afterward. He plays with the aggressiveness of a much larger back, which is a double edged sword. Everybody saw what Jason Ford did. Two good runs, one nice spin move, and then a bunch of plays that had no chance.
Last edited by Steelersfan87; 08-23-2012 at 02:10 PM.