Join Date: Sep 2008
Member Number: 9373
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Three Areas of Concern, and the X-Factor!
After the Steelers performance today, its hard to image that they are a championship calibure team, let alone a play-off team. As far as I can tell, from a fan's standpoint, they are seriously lacking in 3 areas. The offensive line, running backs, and pass rush.The reason that I say pass rush and not defensive line is because they are pretty darn good at stopping the run.
The offensive line play is slightly better than in previous years, but that's not really saying much. From the eye test, it seems like they are able to protect the passer better than in the past, but the run blocking is still lacking. When I watch other teams run the ball, it seems like the runners have to room past the line of scrimmage to make moves and cuts. This is definitely not the case with the Steelers. Its usually 0 yards and a cloud of dust. Admittedly, Johnathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman are not the most talented backs, but I'm not sure Adrian Peterson could run behind this line. There are simply no holes to run through. Many times its the sheer will of Dwyer or Redman and not giving up on the plays that they are able to break through, but this line gets no initial push. We don't have an elite back that can make things happen despite poor blocking. Unfortunately, I see no immediate solution, other than the linemen manning up and playing better on an individual level.
However, the running backs aren't completely absolved of the blame. I've seen more than a few times that there actually were some holes and the backs would rather plunge into a crowd of humanity and hope for the best. In my opinion, Mendenhall has to go if he won't come back for a minimal salary. If he thinks he's worth more, let him go. Regarding the other backs, keep wich ever ones are cheapest, there's really not a difference in terms of production. I would say that we should draft a player in a similar mold of Ray Rice, who I think is a top 2 or 3 back in the league. We need a guy with good small area quickness and elusiveness, who can make the first guy (or two) miss and break out the pile. This hypothetical back doesn't need elite top end speed or to be a huge bruiser. Anybody know a back like this coming up in the draft?
Finally, I have to talk about this pass rush. It's pathetic. The line we went up against today was simply decimated by injuries, and Philip Rivers could have sat back there and have some tea, made some silly faces, made some little kids laugh, and then throw the ball. It was just absolutely ridiculous. And thats really been the story this year. I mean, Jason Worilds is leading the team in sacks (I think). Harrison just seems to be rounding into shape, and Woodley can't keep his fat butt on the field. Ziggy Hood and Hampton are about worthless at generating any push, and Kiesel is just so-so. And when we blitz, IT GETS PICKED UP!! WFT!! The pressure hardly ever gets home, which leaves our secondary exposed. They didn't play particularly well today, but you can't cover every receiver for 10 seconds on every passing down.
Given all of this, many of us Steeler fans think we don't deserve the play-offs, and we should just implode and get a better draft pick, but I think we may be forgetting about the X-factor, and that is..... Big Ben Roethlisberger!! I mean, I just can't count this team out as long as he's our QB. If he's walking, and throwing, we have a shot, period. If we get into the playoffs and he's healthy, we have just as good a shot as anyone else. I would love to just throw in the terrible towel and give up hope on the season. With this team, it would just be easier on my heart. But then I would be that guy who jumped off the wagon before the wheels actually feel off. I won't be that guy. I won't be that fan. I'm thinking play-off's and Superbowl until we're eliminated and its because we have Big Ben. So until next week, lets just relax, and try to keep thins in perspective. We lost no ground on the 6th seed, and if we get into the play-offs, anything is possible.