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Old 12-11-2009, 12:07 AM   #1
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Default Five lessons from Browns-Steelers

Five lessons from Browns-Steelers


Lessons learned from the Browns' 13-6 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night:

1. If Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is Tweedledee, then what does that make Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau?

Say what you will about the Steelers' offensive struggles -- and Steelers Nation has spent much of the past month doing exactly that -- but perhaps the biggest deficiency the defending Super Bowl champs face is on the defensive side of the ball.

It's almost blasphemous for fans and even head coach MikeTomlin to point fingers at the defense, because of its rich tradition and LeBeau's reputation as a defensive genius and innovator.

But how 'bout these for innovative thoughts: Could LeBeau be having a bad year? Could opponents be on to his schemes? Or is injured Troy Polamalu so good, he made LeBeau and his defense look a lot better than it really was.

The best-prepared, most productive defense on the field Thursday night belonged to Rob Ryan, a.k.a. Sam Elliott, and the Browns defense.

Fans complain about Arians' offense being too wide-open, too finesse and untrue to Steelers' roots. The fact is, the Steelers have no more red-zone power threat and Arians has gotten a lot out of his weapons.

Going into Thursday night, the Pittsburgh offense ranked seventh in the NFL and averaged nearly 23 points a game in November and December. The defense? It has collapsed consistently in fourth quarters and could well be the last defense left in the NFL that looks as if it has no clue against the Wildcat formation. The Steelers gave up 171 yards rushing Thursday night. To the Browns.

2. Boy, do stats ever lie -- the Steelers are proof of it.

The next time you hear the old clich� about stats being for losers, feel free to point to the defending Super Bowl champions.

Looking at numbers, you would think the team that just gave lowly Cleveland its second win of the year -- snapping a 12-game win streak against their rivals -- was not mired in a horrendous losing streak.

The Steelers are well on their way to having a 1,000-yard rusher, a 3,000-yard passer, maybe two 1,000-yard receivers and defensive stats that seem Steel Curtain-like. The Pittsburgh defense ranks in the top five overall, in yards per-game, rushing defense and sacks. The Pittsburgh offense ranked in the top 10 in virtually every significant category going into Thursday night.

The last time the Steelers had such individual and team success offensively, they went 13-3. This year, they are 6-7 and in need of miraculous things to happen just to make the playoffs.

3. The Hangover II: Another Steelers Super Bowl? Yeah ... that's not gonna happen.

This isn't the breakout comedy hit of the summer. This is real. And it just happened: Browns 13, Steelers 6.

There is such a thing as a Super Bowl hangover. No one will ever figure out what it is that consciously or subconsciously causes players and teams to lose their edge. Fattened contracts? Overconfidence? A sense of entitlement?

Whatever it is, there has been no team that more epitomizes the Super Bowl hangover than the Steelers, who went 8-8 after their 2005 Super Bowl and will be lucky to get to 8-8 this year.

Look at all the things that made the Steelers great last year. All the little things. They're all gone now. This is a team that has no focus, no hunger and flawed preparation. Those things are reflected in all the places where the Steelers have failed during their five-game losing streak. They were on full display Thursday night.

Special teams flopped. Tackling was horrendous, with the Browns gashing the Steelers defense for big runs all night. There were big plays and untimely penalties. And, after a season in which the Steelers gave up just two plays of more than 40 yards, they've given up eight in the past five games. Thursday night, they also gave up a 47-yard punt return and Josh Cribbs runs of 37 and 36 yards.

4. Ben Roethlisberger must drive Steelers fans to drink -- which, on Thursday night would have been the longest drive of the night.

He either gives Steelers fans Super Bowl rings, or rings under their eyes. Feast, famine. Big play, sack. It must be an infuriating exercise in futility for Steelers fans to decide if today will be a day when they love Big Ben or when they loathe him.

The fact is, the man just takes WAY TOO MANY SACKS. Of course, there's that argument that he can extend plays and make the offense sing. But Roethlisberger takes his offense off the field prematurely way too often by holding the ball, taking sacks and turning second-and-manageable into third-and-longs.

The Browns sacked Roethlisberger eight times Thursday night and pressured him numerous other times, including the clinching incompletion on the Steelers' final offensive play. There was a reason the Steelers went 3-for-15 on third-down conversions. It wasn't Arians' play-calling. Big Ben crippled his team's chances on too many drives.

5. Brady Quinn still isn't anything close to being the next Joe Montana, but he's not as bad as we thought. And if Quinn still doesn't work out, just put Josh Cribbs back there until further notice.

After a series of decent moments before Thursday, flexing his arm strength and making more plays with his arm than previously, Quinn reverted to a less-than-stellar performance.

The key element, however, was he didn't beat his team. Quinn went 6-for-19 for a measly 90 yards, but he had no severe mistakes. He also had Cribbs running the Wildcat and converting crucial plays all night.

Cribbs gashed Pittsburgh for 87 yards rushing and 84 return yards, adding a 9-yard reception.

The Browns and their fans needed this one, badly. Coach Eric Mangini needed it. In a frigid stadium where the wind chill was minus-12 and the Browns had not won in 10 tries, they got it, virtually ending the Steelers' season.

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Old 12-11-2009, 12:39 AM   #2
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Default Re: Five lessons from Browns-Steelers

I think that injuries have slapped the Steelers in the face! Especially of the Defense, but then again no excuses... I went to the game, froze my rear end off too be embarassed...

Here are my five points
1) Roethlisberger looks fat, lethargic, and out of shape... and he does not read the blitz at all! I love him to death, but there is something different about him!

2) Mendenhall needs more touches, as soon as he starts rolling, they throw Willie or Moore in there, either go with him, or dont!

3) Shotgun on third and one? Are you kidding me? what are we these days, its been a problem all season....Bruce Arians and this spread/open offense needs to be forgotten, I am tired of the argument, well we won a superbowl with his playcalls last year, FYI, no we did not, we won because of amazing defense, and clutch playmaking ability from our QB, and WR's!

4) Ziggy Hood, is not having a very good rookie season, I have first hand watched him three times this year, he looks lost on the field... hope he figures it out!

5) Well its time for us to start talking about the draft, I see our number one pick should be a DB, we need help at corner and safety.. I really think we need that stud corner back in the Burgh, we havent had one since Rod Woodson! And Tyrone Carter is the slowest safety in football, and Mundy is nothing to write home about.

Well I have faith in the Steelers, but I have never seen such a talented team lay so many eggs... Wake up... Finish with pride... I really don't see us winning another game...
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Old 12-11-2009, 12:44 AM   #3
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Default Re: Five lessons from Browns-Steelers

Brady Quinn was the only thing worse than the Steelers last night. He is awful. The Browns won the game because of Josh Cribbs and Rob Ryan. Period.
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Old 12-11-2009, 12:48 AM   #4
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Default Re: Five lessons from Browns-Steelers

Quinn may be bad, but stats mean nothing to me, his team won, my team lost.... we need help... and we didnt even lose in effort!
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Old 12-11-2009, 03:02 AM   #5
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Default Re: Five lessons from Browns-Steelers

I'm a big Big Ben fan and i hought he looked fat too.
Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." - Vince Lombardi
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Old 12-11-2009, 03:28 AM   #6
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Default Re: Five lessons from Browns-Steelers

Basically, I think we'd benefit from doing things differently a little more often. Mixing it up some. On both sides of the ball.

In 2006 after we won the Super Bowl, we came out the next season playing plain vanilla offense and plain vanilla defense. Not much aggression or trickiness or anything like that. Just line up and try to play everyone straight-up. This year we did the same thing again. All year. That doesn't work for us.

You know what? Maybe the fire-Arians talk IS what we need. Not because he's a bad coordinator -- I think he's OK, at least -- but because we need some kind of fricking wake-up call. Not in terms of personnel, but just to get some FIRE back into our game. That's how we play best.

Maybe we WOULD do better if we tossed Dixon in there three or four times a game to run some trickery. Maybe we WOULD do OK with Mendenhall and Moore in the backfield at once. Why not? Everyone else does those kinds of things and has no problem. WE used to do it with Ward, Randle El, Slash, etc. Wanting aggression does not make you an OMG OMG Fantasy Football OMG Madden OMG know-nothing fan. Imagination pays off if you do it right, and we had none of it on either side of the ball.

At the very least, this ought to serve as a wake-up call to the crowd that always says "OMG quit your bitching, the coaching staff and front office knows best." YES, it is legitimate to criticize, and YES, some things are so obvious that even the OMG Madden fans can see it and still be right, even though they're just regular dumbassed fans. This season is proof.

Having said that, I'd be surprised if the aftermath of this season is anywhere near as divisive as last. I think we'll probably end up rid of a couple of the "poison pills" that people live to bitch about (and bitch about others bitching about), and just be a football team. A good football team. Hopefully a championship-caliber football team that still has enough of what we all know and like. Because this season had precious little of it, and barring absolute f***ing miracle, I'll be glad the minute the next one starts.
"An empty victory is a victory nonetheless."
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