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Old 12-31-2007, 06:27 AM   #1
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Default Steelers' run defense showing some weakness

Steelers' run defense showing some weakness
By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, December 31, 2007

BALTIMORE
First, the good news.

Sunday's 27-21 stinker against the Baltimore Ravens isn't a confidence-breaker for the Steelers.

Bad loss or no bad loss, the Steelers will play host to Jacksonville in a first-round playoff game Saturday night at Heinz Field.

"This game didn't mean anything," linebacker James Farrior said.
Oh, yes it did.

That's the bad news.

The Steelers still can't stop the run.

Baltimore's traditionally anemic offense -- led yesterday by a rookie quarterback and second- and third-string running backs -- totaled 180 rushing yards and averaged 4.5 yards per carry against the NFL's top-rated defense. It was the most rushing yards the Ravens have gained against the Steelers.

Two games ago, Jacksonville gashed the Steelers for 224 yards on the ground and 5.3 yards per carry. It was the most rushing yards the Jaguars had gained against the Steelers.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin has detected a disturbing pattern with his normally rock-solid defense that he believes is cause for concern rather than panic.

But being that the Steelers are, in Tomlin's words, what they put on tape, the performance of the run defense hasn't reached the critical stage -- yet.

"Specifically, I've got to look at the tape," Tomlin said. "But it looked to me like we were out of gaps at times when trying to apply pressure. That's the high risk and reward of applying pressure.

"We need to be where we're supposed to be. We need to tackle better."

Tomlin said the same thing following the Jacksonville loss -- the lack of gap integrity and the inability of the 11 defensive players to all be on the same page.

If Tomlin has to repeat himself again following the playoff opener, the Steelers' season will be over.

"We've got to get back to the fundamentals and make sure we're in our proper gaps when we apply pressure," Tomlin said. "If we can't do a good job of that, then we need to play straight defense."

Any kind of defense will be an improvement over what the Steelers put out on the field yesterday.

Improved technique won't matter if the Steelers are getting beaten at the point of attack, as they were against Baltimore's offensive line.

"Their front was just moving the ball. It doesn't matter who's in the game," linebacker Clark Haggans said of the Ravens' nondescript running back tandem of Musa Smith and Cory Ross, who combined for two touchdowns. "You could have somebody's grandma in the game, and if you ain't in the gap, as long as she can run the ball, she's gonna hit the open gaps. When 11 guys ain't all on the same page, that's what happens."

Defensive end Brett Keisel said opposing backs have been "running patiently" instead of "attacking the hole" and waiting for plays to develop.

"But we've also helped them by missing some tackles," Keisel said. "We need to get back to smashing the run. That's what we do best."

Stay tuned.
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Old 12-31-2007, 06:53 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers' run defense showing some weakness

I belive tomlin will focus on filling in those gaps this week if we can't stop the run against the jags it is going to be a long night.
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Old 12-31-2007, 08:24 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers' run defense showing some weakness

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Steelers' run defense showing some weakness
Ummm..... DUH!! You think!?!?
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Old 12-31-2007, 08:34 AM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers' run defense showing some weakness

While a part of the problem the Steelers have had in recent weeks stopping the run can be attributed to the loss of Aaron Smith - the rock solid anchor of the DL - from what I saw particularly yesterday, the Steelers D is over-pursuing and getting smoked being out of position. This is particularly true with our LB's. Tomlin and Lebeau don't have a whole helluva lot of time to correct this problem, but I'm confident they are going to give it their best shot. This weekend, we're facing the two headed monster of Taylor and Jones-Drew and if the Steelers D doesn't get it together fast and in a hurry, it is going to be one helluva long (and miserable) game.
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Old 12-31-2007, 03:55 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers' run defense showing some weakness

as a life long Steelers Fan I can't believe what I am seeing this year....the Defense can't stop the run??? I know we have injuries with Smith and Clark gone for the year..but this is the time that the back-ups STEP UP!!

I know the LB Corp needs fixing, Farrior while great is getting older, Foote and Haggans just do not impress me leaving Harrison the only dangerous Backer..maybe it's time for Woodley & Timmons to be given a chance to show why they were 1st and 2nd round draft picks!!

McFadden either needs to step up and replace Townsend or come the off season the Steelers need to address a major issue..the pass defense!! I have no doubt Townsend will be a great coach one day but how about moving him to safety along side Troy?

and speaking of Troy..how bout earning that BIG PAYCHECK you got this off season?

as for the D-Line..outside of Kiesel and Smith..Casey has not impressed that much this year.

Theres nothing wrong with the Defense that can't be fixxed quickly..all it takes is for the Coach to make some changes where needed!!
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Old 12-31-2007, 04:00 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers' run defense showing some weakness

Steelers' run defense showing some weakness

And the Titanic stopped to take on a little ice
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Old 12-31-2007, 04:07 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers' run defense showing some weakness

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Originally Posted by steelerfan29_99 View Post
as a life long Steelers Fan I can't believe what I am seeing this year....the Defense can't stop the run??? I know we have injuries with Smith and Clark gone for the year..but this is the time that the back-ups STEP UP!!

I know the LB Corp needs fixing, Farrior while great is getting older, Foote and Haggans just do not impress me leaving Harrison the only dangerous Backer..maybe it's time for Woodley & Timmons to be given a chance to show why they were 1st and 2nd round draft picks!!

McFadden either needs to step up and replace Townsend or come the off season the Steelers need to address a major issue..the pass defense!! I have no doubt Townsend will be a great coach one day but how about moving him to safety along side Troy?

and speaking of Troy..how bout earning that BIG PAYCHECK you got this off season?

as for the D-Line..outside of Kiesel and Smith..Casey has not impressed that much this year.

Theres nothing wrong with the Defense that can't be fixxed quickly..all it takes is for the Coach to make some changes where needed!!
You are spot on with much of that that personnel analysis

I am not so sure this gets fixed quickly. A big issue is this year's big ticket signing. Troy has had 2 injury marred seasons - 2008 is a big year for his career - I am old enough to recall Mike Wagner, who was All-Pro as the Steelers rose to power but who was reduced to a good but not great safety as injuries took their toll over the second half of his career - for whatever reason Troy does not appear to be a fundamentally sound player at this time - the 2006 shoulder injury may be as much to blame as the recurring knee problems

Do not underestimate the loss of Ryan Clark - the D started heading south after his injury in Denver
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