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Re: Steelers notes on the Colts game
As for the defense, the best player on the field all night may have been Ziggy Hood. After playing only 3 snaps last week, Hood got a lot more snaps against the Colts to showcase his improvement. The two things that were most obvious is that he has developed an excellent swim move, and he has a tremendous anchor. He gives up nothing, even when double teamed, and he uses his swim move to beat his blocker(s) after forcing a stalemate with his power. He’s not a factor in every play, but he flashes a great deal of explosiveness in addition to being sound in the scheme. He also commanded a considerable number of double teams, something that was far less common last season. I’m not sure how many tackles he was ultimately credited for, but I’m confident that he was in on more tackles than a stat sheet would indicate. He’s learned well how to work down a line and beat the blocker to make a tackle. There were several instances in which he quickly disposed of his blocker and was standing there waiting for the play. He also has really good feet, in once instance stepping through an attempted cut block. He used his swim move several times in getting pressure on the quarterback. One interesting thing that I noticed is that he was frequently the sole down lineman in nickel situations, with Keisel standing up, sometimes even as an inside linebacker.
Speaking of Keisel, I felt he also had a strong game. He plays intelligently as a veteran of his years in the system should. He gets off blockers well and works his way off the edge to get to the quarterback.
For as much praise as McLendon has received this offseason, he is not a finished product just yet. It’s pretty clear that, while he has gotten bigger, he does not have Casey Hampton’s strength. There were a handful of instances in which he was knocked to the ground or blocked cleanly by one person. Yet he still showed plenty of what he showed in the first game; shedding blockers to make tackles, pushing two blockers back into the pocket, etc. He clearly is a different type of nose tackle, so it’s a good thing he doesn’t try to emulate Hampton.
I was very surprised that Corbin Bryant came on the field before, and far more often than, Al Woods. In fact, I’m not even sure how many snaps Woods got, but I expect they were few and late in the game. Bryant came in with Cameron Heyward after Keisel and Hood left. Although I thought he was more consistent than he was last week, there was also not a lot in his game worth mentioning.
The most notable thing about his play is that it suggests that he is ahead of Woods in the race for the 7th defensive line spot, although I don’t understand why, if that is indeed the case. As far as Heyward goes, I will admit that I did not watch him as closely as I would have liked. I know that he got blown off the ball more than once, but he also made a few nice plays, so it’s hard to get a read on where he is. Alameda Ta’amu was up and down, but he doesn’t look like he necessarily plays like Casey Hampton. He shows the potential to make a couple plays every now and then, shedding a blocker once to make a tackle and at another time batting down a pass off the edge.
As far as the linebackers go, I did not feel that the unit was very impactful as a whole. Lawrence Timmons and Larry Foote both struggled to shed blockers at times, particularly Foote, who made Hood look bad a few times, such as on the first touchdown when Hood was double teamed and Foote was blocked out of the hole by Coby Fleener.
Outside of running too far afield once or twice in run support, allowing a play to go his way, LaMarr Woodley had a strong day. Once he did get turned out of a hole by Fleener, but on an earlier play he tossed Fleener aside with the flick of a wrist. Although he was unblocked on his sack, it was still a nice play to keep Luck in the pocket and prevent his escape.
The one thing about Chris Carter that can’t be denied is that he has a relentless motor and constantly seems to be running around the ball. He plays like an angry bee. What I don’t see, however, is his pass rush making much of an impact on plays. He seems to do a reasonable job out in pass coverage, despite getting away with a hold at one point. He shows a lot of promise, but it’s time to actually start making an impact.
Brandon Johnson did not fare nearly as well as last week. He only played inside, and he struggled to get off blocks. He also gave up the touchdown pass. Sean Spence plays a lot more instinctually than you would expect out of a rookie. He cut into the line a few times to get in on a tackle on the running play, and he can obviously cover. He almost jumped one route, although in one instance it appears that he released Reggie Wayne when he wasn’t supposed to and Luck arced the ball over his head. I don’t know what the coverage scheme was, so I don’t know if it was truly his fault, however.
Aside from his punt block Mortty Ivy did not make much of an impact backing up LaMarr Woodley. There’s not much to say about his performance. Adrian Robinson, however, continued to terrorize lesser competition. He gets a lot of pressure, though he failed to register a hit. He can get beat, however, and end up on the ground. He appears to be growing into the role of a linebacker in terms of run support and pass coverage as well. If Harrison or Worilds have to start on the PUP list, it’s likely that he makes the roster, possibly even other Johnson if they keep 8.
Ike Taylor had a few missed tackles to balance out the euphoria of his pick six. However, if I were to assign blame on the cross up between he and Polamalu on the Cortez Allen interception—or would-be touchdown pass—I would, not knowing the scheme, give it to Polamalu. Polamalu, lined up the deeper of the two, was eying down the slot receiver and Taylor was locked on the guy on the outside. However, when the slot receiver went deep, Polamalu just let him go and pursued the other receiver cutting inside.
Based on Taylor’s body language, my guess is that the outside guy was his responsibility and Polamalu was freelancing, thinking Luck would throw to the middle of the field. Other than that, there were not too many observations on Polamalu. He did have that nice tackle on 2nd and goal when he shot down the end of the line to tackle the back by his feet. Ryan Clark seemed to have a strong game though. He had a good day in run support and was a sure tackler.
Keenan Lewis’s day was pretty decent. Although he allowed some key receptions, he was always very sound in his responsibilities, and I suspect he’s still working through that shoulder injury. He wasn’t helped much when Ryan Mundy came in for Clark. Neither Mundy nor Will Allen did much of anything worth writing about. The same could be said of Myron Rolle, but Robert Golden seemed to have another good day closing in on the ball once it’s in the air. He also had a pass defensed.
Cortez Allen had a gift interception and also got away with a pretty obvious hold on a third down. Other than that, not much to say. Curtis Brown also didn’t have much of an impact on the game. I can only recall him being targeted twice, both on bubble screens. One was incomplete, but he was in position for a tackle for loss. The other one, he made a sure tackle, but not before a first down.
Right now, it seems like Josh Victorian is the 5th cornerback. He has played the best, and also was visible on special teams multiple times. In the meantime, Walter McFadden and Terrence Frederick had rough days. For what it’s worth, Frederick seems to be the better tackler. Obviously Victorian’s interception (and near interception the week before) are strong arguments in his favor, but he appeared to play well in general.
Last edited by Steelersfan87; 08-23-2012 at 02:10 PM.