Why register with the Steelers Fever Forums?
 • Intelligent and friendly discussions.
 • It's free and it's quick. Always.
 • Enter events in the forums calendar.
 • Very user friendly software.
 • Exclusive contests and giveaways.

 Donate to Steelers Fever, Click here
 Our 2013 Goal: $400.00 - To Date: $00.00 (00.00%)
 Home | Forums | Editorials | Shop | Tickets | Downloads | Contact Pittsburgh Steelers Forum Feed Not Just Fans. Hardcore Fans.

Go Back   Steelers Fever Forums > Steelers Football > Pittsburgh Steelers


Steelers Fever Fan Shop

Doc's Sports Get FREE NFL Picks and College Football picks as well as Football Lines like live NFL Lines and updated NFL Power Rankings all at Doc's Sports Service.

Steelers Steelers - Bills Bills
August 16th, 2014, 7:30pmET

CBS
Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 01-11-2010, 03:56 AM   #1
Galax Steeler
The Virginia Hillbilly
Supporter
 
Galax Steeler's Avatar
 

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Galax Va
Posts: 92,302
Gender: Male
Member Number: 3287
Thanks: 1,021
Thanked 3,176 Times in 1,350 Posts
My Mood: Lurking
Default 2009: An opportunity lost

By BOB LABRIOLA
Steelers.com
The NFL opened its postseason last weekend, and the tournament began without the defending Super Bowl champions.

The 2009 Pittsburgh Steelers are home for the playoffs just 11 months removed from a thrilling win over the Arizona Cardinals that brought the franchise its sixth Lombardi Trophy. The issue of why the Steelers missed these playoffs already has been debated, and it will continue to be discussed by the team’s fans even after the next season begins, so surprising was the development.

Unlike the last time the Steelers were coming off a Super Bowl, there was no hangover, because how could that be said about a team finishing the first half with a 6-2 record that included a five-game winning streak?

But the chance to defend their title was lost during a five-game losing streak, and even though their professionalism was showcased by the players holding it together to finish with a three-game winning streak, the damage had been done. On the final weekend, a win in Miami wasn’t enough for these Steelers because they didn’t get the help they needed from New England, Oakland and Cincinnati.

What follows is a look at the Steelers’ 2009 season and some of the things contributing to the course of events that kept them out of these playoffs.

INJURIES

This is always one of the most critical elements to any team’s season, and injuries – when they happen, to whom, and for what length of time – often are the difference between success and disaster.

Coach Mike Tomlin, from the day he was hired, has maintained that injuries are a part of doing business in the NFL, and that’s the stance a man in a position of leadership should take. How could Tomlin be expected to inspire or instill confidence in a team if he also talked about the loss of a player or players to injury as “devastating,” or went into detail about what the offense or defense couldn’t do because it had lost a certain individual?

That’s the correct approach for a coach to take, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there is no impact to a team in the aftermath of an injury to a significant player. The issue becomes whether the rest of the roster finds a way to compensate.

The 2008 Steelers sustained a number of injuries to front-line players – Marvel Smith, Kendall Simmons, Daniel Sepulveda, Charlie Batch and Rashard Mendenhall all landed on the injured reserve list, while Brett Keisel (six games), Bryant McFadden (six), Willie Parker (five), Deshea Townsend (four), Casey Hampton (three) and Heath Miller (two) also missed some significant time.

But that team compensated, either with individuals stepping in and playing to a level where the unit was able to maintain, or with another unit or part of the team doing something special to make up for what had been lost. The 2009 Steelers weren’t able to find that formula, even though their chore this time was to compensate for only two extended absences of significant players: Troy Polamalu (10 full games and more than half of two others) and Aaron Smith (10 games on injured reserve).

“I think I’ve been pretty clear in regards to my mentality with (injuries),” said Tomlin. “Injuries are as much a part of football as blocking and tackling. We are paid to adjust, to improvise, to overcome, to still find winning formulas. We didn’t do that enough. There were times that we did it. We did it in Denver. We did it very less frequently after that. Such is life. It’s not a problem or an issue that’s singular to us. Troy is a unique kind of a player, I acknowledge that. Baltimore played a lot of football this year without Ed Reed, and they were preparing to play (in the playoffs).”

Losing Polamalu removed a dynamic playmaker from the secondary, but that could not have been the only reason why Kansas City’s Matt Cassel, Baltimore’s Joe Flacco and Oakland’s Bruce Gradkowski posted successive passer ratings of over 100. Without Polamalu, another criticism of the Steelers defense was that it looked slow, which might have had something to do with age …

AGE

When the Steelers went to training camp, there were 13 players on their roster who were 30 or older and one more turned 30 during the season. All of those 14 players made the 53-man roster, and with the exception of backup quarterback Charlie Batch, all of them started or played significant roles in one of the three phases of the football team.

For the record, the 13 included Batch, 34; Hines Ward, 33; Justin Hartwig, 30; Chris Hoke; 33; Travis Kirschke, 34; Aaron Smith, 33; Casey Hampton, 31; Brett Keisel, 30; James Farrior, 34, James Harrison, 31; Tyrone Carter, 33; Deshea Townsend, 33; and Jeff Reed, 30. Ryan Clark turned 30 on Oct. 12.

Did that make the Steelers too old?

Football, especially the brand played at the professional level, has a cumulative effect on a body, and as the games add up during a season and the seasons add up during a career, things can break down or wear down. This is an inevitable human consequence of aging, and despite the best efforts of science the impact can be more pronounced for a professional athlete.

It also should be understood that every one of those 14 players deserved to make the final roster. At the time when the decisions had to be made, there was not a single one of those players who was not among the 53 best.

Complaining about the Steelers being too old is fine now, but this was a team coming off a Super Bowl championship and looking to add to the franchise’s legacy of being the only one in NFL history to defend it successfully more than once. It would have made no sense to cut a thirtysomething in favor of a young guy who wasn’t as good.

It’s possible now to draw a line between the number of older veterans on the defense and that unit’s culpability in the team losing five games in which it led at some point in the fourth quarter. But at the time the roster decisions were being made, there were no blatant examples of a young player being cut in favor of an older guy he had clearly out-performed.

That leads to drafting …

DRAFTING

It’s Anthony Smith’s fault. And Ricardo Colclough’s. Throw in Bruce Davis and Alonzo Jackson, too.

To refresh the memory, Anthony Smith was a third-round pick in the Steelers’ 2006 draft, the first pick of two they owned in the round and their second pick of the day after the trade up in the first round to get Santonio Holmes. In his final season of college football, Smith had been on a Syracuse team that had a losing record, but he played so well that Pitt coach Dave Wannstedt, who has experience in the NFL as both a defensive coordinator and a head coach, called him the best player in the Big East Conference that year.

It looked like a great pick, because Smith looked like he had everything the Steelers like in their defensive backs. He was 6-foot, 200 pounds, had good-enough speed, was a physical presence on the field in that he carried a hitter’s mentality, and he also showed an instinct for being around the football to go along with the physical ability to make plays on it. Smith started the final four games of his rookie season, and in those games he had 15 tackles, five passes defensed and two interceptions.

It all seemed perfect, since there is no such thing as too many playmakers in a secondary. But Smith never learned what it took to be a professional, and when Smith punctuated one of those interceptions with a taunting penalty and then came to the sideline and shrugged off Dick LeBeau, it was an indication he wasn’t interested in being taught, either.

Colclough, another guy with the measurables, was drafted in the second round in 2004 to play cornerback. In the first round of that draft the Steelers had selected Ben Roethlisberger 11th overall, and their second-round pick was to be the 44th overall. But they traded up to 38th to get Colclough, and the cost was their fourth-round pick.

Maybe it was because he played college football at Tusculum and therefore wasn’t exposed to big-time competition that Colclough was a bust, but it’s also fair to point out he was a standout at the Senior Bowl. That college all-star showcase for the NFL hands out four awards – offensive and defensive players of the game for the North and South squads, respectively – and the winners that year were Philip Rivers, Darnell Dockett, Michael Jenkins and Colclough.

In 2009, Colclough and Smith both would have been in their primes, Colclough as a sixth-year pro – just like Roethlisberger – and Smith as a fourth-year player – just like Holmes.

As for Davis, he was a third-round pick in 2008, based on some pretty gaudy sack statistics he compiled during a college career at UCLA. Davis was such a bust that after he was cut by the Steelers at the end of his second training camp, not another team signed him even though he could have been added to a practice squad and paid accordingly. As a second-year pro, Davis would have been expected to kick butt on special teams and provide some competition – and maybe some quality repetitions – in sub-package situations on defense.

Jackson was the second-round pick in the same draft that brought Polamalu to the Steelers, and he would have been entering his seventh season in 2009. Drafted to be a pass-rushing outside linebacker in the 3-4, Jackson never became that, and he never really helped on special teams, either

Add Colclough and Smith to the secondary, Jackson to the mix in the pass rush and Davis to the kickoff coverage and maybe …

This is part one or two continued on the next post down

http://news.steelers.com/article/116878/
__________________
Galax Steeler is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2010, 03:57 AM   #2
Galax Steeler
The Virginia Hillbilly
Supporter
 
Galax Steeler's Avatar
 

Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Galax Va
Posts: 92,302
Gender: Male
Member Number: 3287
Thanks: 1,021
Thanked 3,176 Times in 1,350 Posts
My Mood: Lurking
Default Re: 2009: An opportunity lost

LOSING DIVISION DOMINANCE

It long has been a platform in the Rooney way of doing things that winning the division is the No. 1 priority, something consistently identified as being first among each season’s goals. In the 40 seasons since the NFL and AFL merged in 1970, the Steelers have been champions of their division 19 times. Chuck Noll’s teams won nine titles, Bill Cowher’s teams won eight and Mike Tomlin’s have won two in his first three seasons on the job.

The Steelers have played in seven Super Bowls and in 14 conference championship games, and only once did they get as far as the NFL’s final four as a Wild Card entry. But it’s also true that when the Steelers have been bad, when they have had seasons where they missed the playoffs, their play within their division has been a big part of their problem.

The 2009 season was not a good one for the Steelers when it came to division play, with an 0-2 record against the Bengals and a December loss in Cleveland to the one-win Browns being the primary culprits in a 2-4 record within the AFC North.

“The central point that I made to the football team in regards to evaluation of this season – this thing is going to have so many layers – but first and foremost, we’re a team that was 2-4 in our division,” said Tomlin. “To me, to us, it starts there. That is the only guaranteed ticket to this dance that we’re not participating in. If you want a team to be championship-caliber, it starts with division dominance.”

Clearly the Steelers were not dominant in games against division opponents, and there also were some portions of those games when they were not even competent.

The more frequently identified reasons for being below the line in division play were the fourth-and-10 conversion by Brian Leonard in Cincinnati, the 96-yard kickoff return by Bernard Scott when the Bengals completed the series sweep in Heinz Field, the 44-yard catch-and-run by Ray Rice to convert a fourth-and-5 late in the fourth quarter in Baltimore that followed an easy completion for 17 yards on third-and-22, and the Browns’ 171 rushing yards plus a 55-yard punt return by Joshua Cribbs during the nightmare on the shores of Lake Erie.

But that was only part of the problem, which leads to …

LIES, DAMN LIES AND STATISTICS

At the end of the first season in franchise history where the Steelers had a 4,000-yard quarterback, two 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard running back, a season when Heath Miller caught more passes than any tight end in franchise history, a season when the offense was No. 7 in the NFL in yards gained and No. 4 in time of possession, the team finished out of the playoffs.

Certainly the blown leads in the fourth quarter and the dropped interceptions and the missed field goals in Chicago and the five touchdowns allowed by special teams – four kickoffs and a fumble return – were contributors, but the offense should not be absolved because of a bunch of gaudy statistics.

The Steelers were tied-for-21st in the NFL in red zone efficiency, and the inability to score touchdowns at a higher rate was costly, especially if that unit is supposed to be the strength of the team.

In the two losses to the Bengals – one by three points and the other by six – the Steelers were 1-for-7 in the red zone. In the three-point loss to the Raiders, the Steelers’ first three red zone trips ended with: a 33-yard field goal, which came after the offense gained 4 yards on three plays following an 83-yard kickoff return by Stefan Logan; Ben Roethlisberger getting stuffed on a fourth-and-1 at the Oakland 5-yard line; and then an interception in the end zone on first down from the 16-yard line.

There were 10 teams that had quarterbacks who passed for over 4,000 yards in 2009, and Roethlisberger and Dallas’ Tony Romo tied for the fewest touchdowns with 26. In red zone efficiency among those 10 teams, the Steelers and New York Giants were at the bottom and tied-for-21st in the NFL, while five others were in the top 10 and nobody else was worse than No. 14. In addition, among those 10 teams, the Steelers’ 38 offensive touchdowns were the fewest, with six of the teams’ offenses scoring more than 45. Who knows what seven more touchdowns could have done for a team that lost five games by three points apiece.

OVERVIEW

It has become a catch-phrase of their profession, when players recite the “win as a team, lose as a team” mantra to the microphones that get pointed at them in the locker room after games. But the Steelers truly failed as a team in 2009. None of their units were good enough on a consistent enough basis, and each phase of their performance was sufficiently lacking in defeat to paint itself as the primary reason for a particular loss. Since some of that can be assigned to problems with scheme and some of it to execution by the players on the roster, the coaching staff and personnel department can be brought into it, too.

Clearly there is work to do, improvement to be made for the Steelers to get back on top of the AFC North and into the playoffs in 2010. And it needs to happen everywhere.

http://news.steelers.com/article/116878/
__________________
Galax Steeler is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2010, 09:36 AM   #3
kirklandrules
Team Captain
 
kirklandrules's Avatar
 

Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Charlotte, NC
Posts: 751
Gender: Male
Member Number: 8659
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default Re: 2009: An opportunity lost

All of the big passing stats and other stats that show how great the offense was, brings me back to the days of Touchdown Tommy Maddox. I liked the guy and thought he was a true Steeler when he came back after that neck injury. However, there was a year he was throwing the football nearly every down and moved the ball up and down the field on almost any defense. We missed the playoffs that year too and Cowher made the statement that he would ensure the Steelers would get back to what they do best: smashmouth football. Can't tell you how discouraging it is to see 3 consecutive pass plays called inside the 10 yard line, only to walk away with 3 points or a pick. If our coaches had no faith in our run game, they should fix the run game ... not continue as a one dimensional team inside the red zone. And the run game has suffered since we decided Dan Krieder was no longer worth a spot as the FB on this team. Of course the Cardinals had no problem picking up short yardage yesterday with big Dan leading the way. Little known fact here: Barry Sanders retired early because Bobby Ross would not give him a FB to run behind. And don't be fooled by that stat of the top rushing teams not making the playoffs ... it's called they had bums at QB and run the wildcat on 3rd downs.
O.k. that's my rant today.
kirklandrules is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2010, 09:51 AM   #4
Vincent
Team President
Supporter
 
Vincent's Avatar
 

Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: People's Republic of North Carolina
Posts: 2,485
Member Number: 10927
Thanks: 13
Thanked 11 Times in 9 Posts
Default Re: 2009: An opportunity lost

Thats what aggravates me the most about this lost opportunity - all the fiddle @#$%ing around. This team had the roster and schedule to go 3 in 5 years. It lacked the intensity and focus to get them there. Its all been said here so I won't state the obvious again.
__________________

"We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress & the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution,
but overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution."

Abraham Lincoln
Vincent is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2010, 10:47 AM   #5
Rick5895
Team President
 
Rick5895's Avatar
 

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: St.Thomas, ontario , canada
Posts: 2,137
Gender: Male
Member Number: 5148
Thanks: 21
Thanked 33 Times in 22 Posts
Default Re: 2009: An opportunity lost

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vincent View Post
Thats what aggravates me the most about this lost opportunity - all the fiddle @#$%ing around. This team had the roster and schedule to go 3 in 5 years. It lacked the intensity and focus to get them there. Its all been said here so I won't state the obvious again.
Couldn't have said it better myself!!!@
Rick5895 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 01-11-2010, 01:24 PM   #6
SteelC7
Bench Warmer
 
SteelC7's Avatar
 

Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Fullerton
Posts: 379
Gender: Male
Member Number: 14419
Thanks: 0
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default Re: 2009: An opportunity lost

its a damn shame, cuz i really thought this was our year again. nothing was missing, except attitude, and that proved to be the downfall. but hey, well be talking about this til preseason in august so lets not get all our venting done now!!!
SteelC7 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:42 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Shoutbox provided by vBShout v6.2.1 (Lite) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2014 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging v3.0.8 (Lite) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2014 DragonByte Technologies Ltd. Runs best on HiVelocity Hosting.
Navbar with Avatar by Motorradforum
no new posts