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Old 11-27-2006, 07:00 AM   #1
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Default Smizik: Mystery solved ... Steelers bad

Smizik: Mystery solved ... Steelers bad
Monday, November 27, 2006

By Bob Smizik, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

BALTIMORE -- The final score was 27-0, a margin of victory that is not unexpected when one of the best teams in the National Football League plays one of the worst.

And that's precisely what the Steelers are -- one of the worst teams in the NFL. That's not an opinion, it's a fact, and it's one borne out by their 4-7 record and their performance yesterday, a humiliating loss to the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium.

There was a time when this Steelers team had us fooled. Through September, October and much of November, they were a mystery team. We couldn't figure out how the defending Super Bowl champs could play so well one week, so poorly the next. There was no explaining the avalanche of turnovers that kept costing them games. Surely, this would even out. Beyond doubt, they would rally to make a run at the playoffs.

But after 11 games, and most particularly after this most recent game, we know precisely what's wrong with the Steelers. They're not a mystery team at all. They just not very good.

"A pitiful performance," said coach Bill Cowher at the opening of his postgame news conference, and that summed it up to near-perfection.

"I accept full responsibility," Cowher continued. "They outplayed us, they outcoached us."

Really, no one should have been surprised by this outcome.

Overlooked in the euphoria of the comeback win against Cleveland last week was that the Steelers not only came close to losing to a hapless opponent but they were unable to run the ball against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. If they had trouble competing with the Browns, how could they expect to compete with the Ravens, who are proving themselves to be one of the elite teams in the NFL?

No one should look at this result and consider it a by-product of a magnificent Baltimore defense. Although great linebacker Ray Lewis is still around, this Ravens' defense is not in the same class with the one that won Super Bowl XXXV. In their five games previous to this one, the Ravens held only one opponent to fewer than 20 points. This shutout was, in fact, the equal responsibility of a very good Baltimore defense and a very poor Steelers offense. The Steelers have been held without a touchdown in seven of the past eight quarters.

Once again, the Steelers gave up early on the run. Willie Parker carried the ball only 10 times for 22 yards.

It has become more clear with almost every game that offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is losing confidence in Parker, and that's understandable. Although Parker gives the Steelers the big-play back they've never had, he doesn't give them the ball-control runner that has been the key to the team's success in the Cowher era.

With Parker pretty much out of the game -- six carries in the first half, four in the second -- the offense fell to Ben Roethlisberger, and the Ravens were relentless in hunting him down. Roethlisberger was sacked nine times and intercepted twice. He completed 21 of 41 passes for 214 yards and had a miserable passer rating of 46.2. His fumble, while back to pass late in the third quarter, was picked up and returned 57 yards for a touchdown by linebacker Adalius Thomas.

That score, at 3:04 p.m., not only ended the game, it ended the season for the Steelers.

What had to be particularly galling to the Steelers was the way the Ravens dominated them by running the ball. Time and again in the first half, Baltimore backs Jamal Lewis and Ovie Mughelli punished Steelers tacklers with powerful hits that gained them extra yards and enabled them to control the game.

In the first half alone, Lewis bullied the Steelers for 61 yards on 13 carries and Mughelli 17 yards on three carries.

"That felt like old times," said Lewis, once one of the most feared backs in the NFL but now clearly in decline. "When the lanes open up like they did, it's just you and the safeties and you and the corners, so you have to deliver that punch and make it easier for the third and fourth quarter."

Steelers inside linebacker Larry Foote had never seen anything like it. "That wasn't Steelers football," he said. "One of those drives in the first half, the way they went down and scored, I've never been a part of that here."

But it was Steelers football yesterday. The team that answered the challenge every time for eight weeks last season, could not muster a decent effort when the season was expiring.

"We didn't show up today," Hines Ward said. "We had guys with their heads down. That's very uncharacteristic."

Ward was asked why, with so much at stake, could the team be so not ready to play.

"I can't speak for other guys," he said. "I don't know. That's why I took all the extra steps [to recuperate from an injury] because I wanted to play in this game. But we went out an laid an egg. We didn't show up. For what ever reason, they wanted it more than us."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06331/741504-194.stm
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Old 11-27-2006, 07:21 AM   #2
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Default Re: Smizik: Mystery solved ... Steelers bad

"Mystery solved ... Steelers bad"

It's about time somebody said it instead of making excuses or attempting to sugarcoat for this football team week in and week out. It amazes me it took this long for somebody to state the obvious. IMO, that fact could have been established after the Raider loss.
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Old 11-27-2006, 07:30 AM   #3
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Default Re: Smizik: Mystery solved ... Steelers bad

You have some great sports writers covering the Steelers.

Nearly all the articles I read here are well thought out, and do a good job of analysing the decline of the Steelers without too much panic.

My honest opinion is that Cowher should walk away from the job asap - maybe even during the regular season so the new guy has a little time working with the guys he is going to be using next year.

Of course, if they dont look outside the current coaching staff for his replacement, then that may not be as crucial.

The Steelers are built on very strong foundations and im sure this year is just an abberation.

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The Patriots didn't bother with swagger to start this NFL season; they went straight to defiant. Either you're one of them or you're about to get crushed.
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Old 11-27-2006, 07:31 AM   #4
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Default Re: Smizik: Mystery solved ... Steelers bad

Sadly, I can't disagree with anything Dulac writes here. Hines Ward summed it up best of all, I think, by his statement that the Ravens wanted that win yesterday more than the Steelers did - it showed in their play on both sides of the ball. I think that statement can be extended out to describe the season, as well. As a fan, I am disappointed, most definitely, but I'm still going to ride out this season supporting the team I love and hope they can play spoiler to the Bungles.
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Old 11-27-2006, 07:54 AM   #5
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Default Re: Smizik: Mystery solved ... Steelers bad


Oh.. I am definitely here til the day that they put me in the ground and thats just the way it is...We have been so inconsistent that I have not seen this much inconsistency with Cowher in maybe ever... Time to do something with this secondary in the offseason... and accept that signing Taylor to a long term contract was another big DB mess up... Draft Time look at Leon Hall out of Michigan
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Old 11-27-2006, 08:00 AM   #6
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Default Re: Smizik: Mystery solved ... Steelers bad

Very true Nigel.


Cowher needs to decide his futire now not tomorrow. Then start playing rookies. Use the rest of the season as a runway for next year. Almost no job/position should be safe................
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Old 11-27-2006, 08:00 AM   #7
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Default Re: Smizik: Mystery solved ... Steelers bad

Quote:
Originally Posted by Livinginthe past View Post
You have some great sports writers covering the Steelers.

Nearly all the articles I read here are well thought out, and do a good job of analysing the decline of the Steelers without too much panic.

My honest opinion is that Cowher should walk away from the job asap - maybe even during the regular season so the new guy has a little time working with the guys he is going to be using next year.

Of course, if they dont look outside the current coaching staff for his replacement, then that may not be as crucial.

The Steelers are built on very strong foundations and im sure this year is just an abberation.

NM
While Smizik tends to sport the B&G sunglasses (rah-rah rants sell papers I guess and gives readers a sense of denile...lol), I was pleasantly surprised by two particular articles this morning. The article in this thread and the article/thread titled "Time to cast off XL Egos".

As for the rest of your post....

Strong foundation? I agree.

At the same time, this team has some major holes it needs to plug if they want to show up next season and actually prove they can play at the pro level.

IMO.................

Cowher out is the first action in which needs to take place. The guys head is in NC. It has been since the end of the 4th quarter during XL.

O-lineman. While the whole o-line played horrible yesterday (and the season in general), Max Starks is not cutting it. Maybe he spends a little too much time focusing on his tv career (Stan Savern), but the guy doesn't have it. This should be a top priority.

DB. While I still think Ike can blossom into a half decent DB, that $22.5 is starting to worry me. Townsend is not looking any better. One name: PITT DB Darrelle Revis. Excellent cover corner with good return skills.

WR. While I was hoping Nate Washington would step up this season, dropping balls in the endzone and showing a lack of consistency is not cutting it. Then there's Cedrick Wilson. I'll let his play speak for itself. Playoff show-up and done.

OLB and MLB. Age is catching up to these guys. Chad Browns: 36. Joey Porter: Going on 30 and not getting the money. James Farrior: Going on 32.

HB. Still need more in the backfield. Love Willie Parker, but change of pace and a breather during the game would be nice for Willie.

Anybody, feel free to add on to the list.............
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Old 11-27-2006, 08:48 AM   #8
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Default Re: Smizik: Mystery solved ... Steelers bad

I'm going to disagree with this quote:

Quote:
It has become more clear with almost every game that offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt is losing confidence in Parker, and that's understandable. Although Parker gives the Steelers the big-play back they've never had, he doesn't give them the ball-control runner that has been the key to the team's success in the Cowher era.
Too many times this year, and too many time yesterday in particular, Parker has hit the hole and it's 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage with a linebacker standing in it. Parker is all there, it's the blocking that is letting this team down. Most of his big gains have been by giving up on the hole and going outside, or giving up outside and cutting back to the middle; the plays that are designed to go outside are getting stuffed, too.

83/43, are you serious about Revis? I haven't seen ANYTHING out of Pitt's defense that would let me think ANY player has pro potential; opposing qbs have lit them up like a free pinball machine.


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Old 11-27-2006, 08:57 AM   #9
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Default Re: Smizik: Mystery solved ... Steelers bad

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosca View Post
I haven't seen ANYTHING out of Pitt's defense that would let me think ANY player has pro potential; opposing qbs have lit them up like a free pinball machine.
Minus Revis, I agree. Revis will be off the board in the second round.

Info on Revis: http://pittsburghpanthers.cstv.com/s...arrelle00.html
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Old 11-27-2006, 09:45 AM   #10
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Default Re: Smizik: Mystery solved ... Steelers bad

Quote:
Originally Posted by 83-Steelers-43 View Post
While Smizik tends to sport the B&G sunglasses (rah-rah rants sell papers I guess and gives readers a sense of denile...lol), I was pleasantly surprised by two particular articles this morning. The article in this thread and the article/thread titled "Time to cast off XL Egos".

As for the rest of your post....

Strong foundation? I agree.

At the same time, this team has some major holes it needs to plug if they want to show up next season and actually prove they can play at the pro level.

IMO.................

Cowher out is the first action in which needs to take place. The guys head is in NC. It has been since the end of the 4th quarter during XL.

O-lineman. While the whole o-line played horrible yesterday (and the season in general), Max Starks is not cutting it. Maybe he spends a little too much time focusing on his tv career (Stan Savern), but the guy doesn't have it. This should be a top priority.

DB. While I still think Ike can blossom into a half decent DB, that $22.5 is starting to worry me. Townsend is not looking any better. One name: PITT DB Darrelle Revis. Excellent cover corner with good return skills.

WR. While I was hoping Nate Washington would step up this season, dropping balls in the endzone and showing a lack of consistency is not cutting it. Then there's Cedrick Wilson. I'll let his play speak for itself. Playoff show-up and done.

OLB and MLB. Age is catching up to these guys. Chad Browns: 36. Joey Porter: Going on 30 and not getting the money. James Farrior: Going on 32.

HB. Still need more in the backfield. Love Willie Parker, but change of pace and a breather during the game would be nice for Willie.

Anybody, feel free to add on to the list.............


sure, I'll add something....


Heart. This team is SORELY lacking in the Heart Dept.

Smarts. How many times have we watched undisciplined play.

Confidence. What happened?
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