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Old 10-13-2011, 04:19 PM   #1
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Default Can The Steelers Stay Hot?

The win last week at home against Tennessee felt good didnít it? Yeah I liked it too. Whether or not any Steelers players will admit it, the game was a must-win. Of course, that statement is always as little suspect anyway because itís not like there are many games in a 16 game season that arenít a must-win. This season has already been quite the roller coaster and we are only on Week 6 at this point. After starting with such a disappointing loss in Baltimore, the Steelers rebounded with a shut-out at home against Seattle but then squeaked one out in Indy and fell short to Houston. The Steelers have yet to put 2 consistently solid games back to back and itís left me to wonder if itís important they get hot now after the win against Tennessee or if itís better to spark in November and December.

The Steelers have 2 very winnable games coming up against the Jags and Cardinals before facing the Patriots and the much anticipated rematch against the Ravens. Thereís no reason to look too far ahead, though. Having being bit by the injury bug awful early in the year, the Steelers could have the luxury of being at full strength later in the year while other teams are wearing thin. But, in a league where momentum makes all the difference in the world you are only as good as your last game. As it stands now, the Steelers are good but can improve.

What needs to improve for the Steelers to remain hot?

First off, the offensive line isnít perfect now that Max Starks is back. Yes he surprised everybody, probably even himself, by coming off of his couch to solidify a line that has been crumbling like a coffee cake for the first 4 games. But thatís just one game so far. Ben is already playing hurt and for him to stay healthy he needs to stay off of the grass. For that to happen this line needs to maintain the protection they provided Ben against the Titans.

The rushing game needs to improve as well. The Steelers rushed for 174 yards against Tennessee but 76 of those yards came in one rush by Jonathan Dwyer. Those kinds of runs wonít happen every game and we know it. What also wonít be happening every game is Ben throwing for 5 touchdowns. Weíve all had a lot of fun this week debating over whether or not Mendy should get his starting job back after coming off a hamstring injury, and even the PGís Ed Bouchette speculated that after Tomlinís presser on Tuesday, Mendy might not automatically earn his spot coming back like a James Harrison would. The fact is that Mendenhall is a 1st round draft pick, he gained over 1,300 yard last season, heís our guy. As long as he stops dancing at the line (and an improved O-line should help in that) he should return to form as the premier back on the team. A little competition never hurts, though. While Iím not confident that a ďrunning back by committeeĒ style would be the best for the Steelers this season, I think that you give the ball to the back thatís going to gain the yards. Whether thatís Mendy, Redman, Method Man, or Dwyer, Iím all in. The running game is key to the Steelers success.

The Steelers defense needs to get stingy. We need turnovers and we need them badly. Polomalu seems to have been inches away from a couple interceptions so far this season and those need to turn into actual interceptions. The Steelers are sitting at a -10 turnover ratio so far and thatís unacceptable. Ben seemed to have put the team in a hole to start with when it comes to the turnover ratio, accounting for 10 turnovers himself. The turnover ratio along with the run defense has allowed for the Steelers D to come under some serious scrutiny. Thanks to the efforts from Ray Rice and Arian Foster, the Steelers opponents are averaging over 100 rushing yards a game, after allowing the first 2 100+ yard rushing games in over 50 games. The Steelers run defense, which dominated last season, now sits at the 17th rank. We all know what the Steelers defense is capable of, and Iím more than confident we will see it in the next 2 games.

Although the Steelers shocked everyone with the fake-punt by Sepulveda against Tennessee, the Steelers special teams has not been perfect so far this season. Even though Antonio Brownís return skills have been solid, the Steelers have had a field goal and a punt blocked so far and those kinds of mistakes will always cost a team. Giving up those kinds of plays can bust a game wide open no matter how good the offense or defense is playing.

Winning at home against the Jagoffs wonít be enough. For the Steelers to be considered ďhotĒ right now, they will have to dominate on every side of the ball. The Jacksonville Jagoffs have at some times been considered a rival of the Steelers, but in recent years that rivalry has gone into obscurity. The Jagoffís inability to compete even in their own division, let alone the conference has had a lot to do with that. Jacksonville comes into Heinz Field this Sunday at 1-4, but there are no guaranteed victories in the NFL. Playing strong in November and December is important, but it might not mean a whole lot if October isnít hot. Iíd like to feel even better after this game than I did last Sunday, wouldnít you? Go Steelers!

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Old 10-13-2011, 04:56 PM   #2
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Default Re: Can The Steelers Stay Hot?

I think the team is getting hungry which is good, so yes. we should be able to win jacksonville, but going to arizona ALWAYS worries me. I remember being disappointed more often than not whenever this team travels to the desert to play.

What I like is that younger players are starting to get a chance to play, and those younger players are hungry for playing time. They are fired up to even jump in the game and that can be contagious, which is why I'm all for throwing in a 1st-3rd year player in a rotation and see what they can do.

lebeau's dime package last weekend showed that lebeau still has some creativity left, and I think carnell lake has done an awesome job with the secondary. I don't know I'm just seeing things, but both ike taylor and william gay look improved from the past years, wonder how much of it has to do with Lake. Keenan lewis has been money as the #3 CB and that should do a lot to make our secondary better. We will need all the able corners we can get playing against new england in a few weeks. Lewis and gay playing well allows Troy to roam free, where he's the most dangerous. Turnovers will happen sooner or later by the way troy is playing for sure.
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Old 10-14-2011, 10:09 AM   #3
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Default Re: Can The Steelers Stay Hot?

For the next two games? I believe so. I can't remember the last time we had two dominating performances in a row so my guess is we will win both - but one of them will be a lot closer than it should be. (I'm thinking Arizona will be pretty scrappy)

As far as the two home games against Pats and Ravens - I don't think we lose 2 in a row at home so if we can get into that bye at 7-3 I'll be thrilled.

Lastly - I've got a feeling we don't let the Pats beat us as badly as the last time at the very least. I think we'll make a game out of it, if not actually beat them - which would be H-U-G-E. If we can take care of both of those games I'll be floored.

I always want to win every game - but I think it is pretty fair to say the Steelers would need another wake up call after the bye and will probably lose to someone they shouldn't. If that means it gets them refocused for a deep run then so be it.

Bottom line. I REALLY don't want to be playing Baltimore @ Baltimore in January. But - let's take care of business 1 wk at a time first.
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Old 10-14-2011, 10:37 AM   #4
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Default Re: Can The Steelers Stay Hot?

Originally Posted by fer522 View Post
What needs to improve for the Steelers to remain hot?]
Based on the Tennessee game, maintenance may be more important than improvement. As long as they keep the same offensive scheme of taking what the defense gives, they should be allright. They should also continue to utilize Sanders, Brown, and Redman.

It looks like they have the run defense shored up, although they haven't proven they can stop the whole zone blocking thing. We'll see. (Doesn't Jacksonville zone-block?) But, the pass defense looks a lot better with Keenan Lewis playing like a man-child.
That's just your opinion.
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