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Old 07-09-2007, 06:13 AM   #1
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Default LLT's preseason Offensive Grade

QB's
Ben slipped last year in a big way but who could blame him. After a brush with death in a near-fatal motorcycle accident, an emergency appendectomy, and a concussion....Bens "preseason" didnt end until about game #6.
He did finish the season strong however and the Steelers finished 8-8. With a good camp, and a desire to calm the naysayers, I look for Ben to be dubbed "Comeback Player of the Year"
Even with losing 8 games last year Ben is still the #2 QB in the NFL in winning percentage. Ariens promises Ben will have the ability to make play changes on the line and to run a no-huddle at times like he did in college. All this should help the ultra-competative QB to get back on track. Charlie Batch is a more than competent backup who filled in admirably last year while Ben was gone
Grade B+

RB's
Parker has made Rooney look like a genious. Picked up as an undrafted free-agent, all Parker has done is win the hearts of the Steeler-faithful with an incredible work ethic and elite speed. He has also shown that he isn't afraid to run between the tackles, racking up over 1600 total yards from scrimmage and 15 TD's. Fast Willie Parker is fast making us forget the heartbreaking retirement of Jerome Bettis.
Behind Willie is crowded backfield of second tier backs trying to win a job. Verron Haynes has been resigned but it remains to be seen how much he has recovered from his injury. Kevin Barlow, Najeh Davenport and John Kuhn are going to have a pre-season battle for the big back slot and a young cadre of RB's including Minnesota standout Gary Russell will be trying to impress to just make the roster.
Fullback will again be manned by Dan Kreider who does nothing but constantly make small holes into big holes for Parker.
Grade A-

WR's
Premier WR Hines Ward returns, just 721 yards short of being the most prolific WR in Steeler history. This is an incredible feat when considering the talent level of the Hall of Fame recievers from Pittsburgh's past.
Former first round pick Santonio Holmes will line up on the opposite side and hopes to build on a very impressive rookie season in which he led AFC rookie WR's in reception yardage.
The third reciever slot is a point of concern with the overpaid and underproductive Cedric Wilson competing against Nate Washington who flashes talent but has questionable hands. Hopes are that Washington can learn from last year and fill in at slot. PR/KR Willie Reid is still an unkown quality after a year of injuries.
Pittsburgh did draft tall, productive college WR Dallas Baker who wont impress anyone with his speed but hopes are that he may become a red-zone threat.
Grade B-

TE
Heath Miller remains a consistant option evertime Ben drops back to pass, with sure hands and an ability to find the crease in defenses. He is also an underrated blocker. With a healthy QB this year and coaches who love to use the TE, Miller could have a Pro-bowl year.
For the second time in three years, the Steelers drafted the recipient of the John Mackey Award, given to the nations best TE. 6'7 Matt Spaeth slid into the third round after not being able to participate in all combine drills due to a bad shoulder. Pittsburgh's coaching staff was giddy over being able to pick up Spaeth, and they promise to run more multible TE sets.
With Tuman still on the roster and the pickup of tall (6'8) undrafted Cody Boyd from Washington, Tomlin seems ready to back up that promise.
Grade A-

O-Line
This is the most questionable spot on the offense. Center Jeff Harting retired leaving a void that will be hard to fill. Sean Mahan was picked up in free-agency and as of now is expected to eventually win that spot over undersized backups Okobi and Phillip.
Pittsburghs right side was a concern last year. RT Max Starks is a waist bender and loses leverage against bull rushers. RG Simmons also struggled evidenced by Parkers 3.2 yard average on that side of the line compared to the 4.6 on the left side.
RT Willie Colon impressed n his first season and could push both players to either play better or lose their starting positions. Chris Kemoeatu also is a possibility at RG. He is a road grader as a run blocker but does have some problems in getting to the second tier, being more comforatable playing with linemen on both sides (in the phonebooth).
The left side is stronger with disgruntled LG and perennial pro-bowler Alan Faneca and LT Marvel Smith who slipped a little last year but is still a better than average starter. Trai Essex backs up Smith and though a wave player he can fill in on a short term basis without a drastic fall in level of competence.
Cameron Stephenson was drafted to add depth to the Guard position but will need time to come around.
With three slots questionable, the O-line will be a place for all of us to keep an eye on in preseason and the first couple of games.
Grade C-

Last edited by lamberts-lost-tooth; 07-09-2007 at 12:00 PM.
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Old 07-09-2007, 09:38 AM   #2
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Default Re: LLT's preseason Offensive Grade

Nice grades. Hopefully the o-line will play better this season.
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Old 07-09-2007, 10:48 AM   #3
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Default Re: LLT's preseason Offensive Grade

Great post. I particularly enjoyed your analysis of the O-line. Too many people still don't appreciate good O-line play or realize how it is critical to everything else on offense.
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Old 07-09-2007, 12:52 PM   #4
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Default Re: LLT's preseason Offensive Grade

It's a cliche, but, true: controlling the middle of play - in the trenches - whether on O or D is always key. The great teams always have this is common. Look at the great "O" lines of the past Dallas teams and the "D" line of the Steelers of the '70s. It is also what makes our present "D" above average.

Bradshaw has repeatedly made this case when talking about his O line, particularly Mike Webster. Sure we've had great linebackers. But, they would be the first to admit that their success was due to their D lines. (Both Ham and Lambert have said the same about Greene and Greenwood and Porter said as much about A Smith 2 yrs ago - and every current ILB knows the value of Casey when he engages 2 and sometimes 3 O linemen.)

That is because it is not just about having the better athletes with better technique and/or speed although this is important. It is more about character, heart, passion and one group of men exerting their collective will over the other. This is particularly true about football and what distinguishes the NFL from Arena football. (Although I'll concede that with rules to protect receivers, KRs and QB's the trend in the NFL is not good.)

Football, and sport in general, is won when one team exerts its collective will over the other. That is done first and foremost in the trenches. This quality is what has enabled the Steelers to have the unheard of W-L record when having a lead going into the 4th Quarter over the past decade.

Bill Parcell's said it best when when asked about the cornerback position; he said that he takes great pride in the fact that you can not remember any of his cornerbacks or for that matter any of his skill players. He said that the average corner can become a shutdown corner with a great D line and an average receiver all-world with a great O Line, but, the reverse is not true - ie a great receiver will not be able to bail out a mediocre O line in the W-L column - if you doubt that take a look at Arizona's record over the last several years.

Why do you think they call it "fantasy" football - that's right its not the real thing.
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Old 07-09-2007, 01:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: LLT's preseason Offensive Grade

QB's
Gotta agree with most of your post here. However, I think there is a bit bigger question mark on Ben Roethlisberger. We know what he is capable of. The question is, can he put it put it all together on a consistent basis, or did his accident cause permanent damage physically or mentally (will he always be just a tad more jittery about a hit? Will he be just a quartersecond slower?). Personally, I don't think so. However, I need to see him prove it this year. I completely agree with your assessment of our backup, but he is getting older. As a result, I gotta personally move the grade from
Grade B+ to B-

RB's
You are dead right on with Willie. Furthermore, With Barlow, Dookie, and Kuhn and Haynes, we can share the load, keeping Willie fresher. I am looking for Barlow to actually step up and take the second string position. I gotta agree with your assessment
Grade A-

WR's
Ward is great. Holmes is coming along very well. However, after that, it is just a mess. while we have upside, we really have nothing to point to in order to prove that upside. Furthermore, with the spoken desire to spread 3 and 4 wide, we need to have receivers that can catch and run in order for it to be a threat.... I have to move this grade down
From Grade B- to a C

TE
Heath and Tuman alone put us at A-. If ANY of these new TE's step up, we are going to have THE PREMIER TE platoon in the league. So I would leave it as you put it... however, I am ready to quickly put it up to A, and possibly an A plus if we get some good production from both draft picks.
Grade A-

O-Line
Yep, Yep, and Yep.
Grade C-

Overall, Good job LLT. It sure is easier to adjust ones grade of a team then it is to come up with one yourself.
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Old 07-09-2007, 01:53 PM   #6
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Default Re: LLT's preseason Offensive Grade

Great post LLT
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Old 07-09-2007, 02:45 PM   #7
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Default Re: LLT's preseason Offensive Grade

Quote:
Originally Posted by Preacher View Post

Overall, Good job LLT. It sure is easier to adjust ones grade of a team then it is to come up with one yourself.
Thanks...I take those slight adjustments as compliments!!!!!
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Old 07-09-2007, 02:52 PM   #8
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Default Re: LLT's preseason Offensive Grade

Good talent reading and fun to read... I think that our WR's other than Hines still have some things to prove. Cedric Wilson in my opinion must go. If Holmes cant beat out Wilson then he is going nowhere fast. Nate must prove that he has the talent to be on the field more by Not dropping passes... Our O LIne is our biggest question in my opinion on offense..
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Old 07-09-2007, 03:46 PM   #9
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Default Re: LLT's preseason Offensive Grade

A nice read, LLT - as always.
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Old 07-09-2007, 03:51 PM   #10
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Default Re: LLT's preseason Offensive Grade

Good reading!...
I learn everyday from you guys!
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