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Old 11-03-2011, 10:12 PM   #1
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Default Steelers mid-season report

Steelers mid-season report
http://www.timesonline.com/columnist...9bb30f31a.html
By Mike Bires mbires@timesonline.com | Posted: Thursday, November 3, 2011 9:29 am

PITTSBURGH -- "Now it's onward and upward" Brett Keisel declared after the Steelers reached the halfway point of their season with the AFC's best record.

With a huge game against archrival Baltimore this coming Sunday night, Keisel and the rest of his teammates are in no mood to reflect on the past. They're 6-2 but they know there's a lot of football left to play. All they're focused on right now is continuing their winning streak and avenging their 35-7 opening-day loss to the Ravens.

But those of us in the media are allowed to look back. So here are some of my mid-season observations on the Steelers:

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

At first glance, it's almost unthinkable that an offensive lineman who's only played in four games could be MVP. But before Max Starks arrived, the Steelers were 2-2 and struggling offensively largely in part to injuries on the O-line.

So two days after a 17-10 loss in Houston where Ben Roethlisberger was sacked five times and suffered a sprained foot, Starks was re-signed. The big man who was cut just as training camp began was back at left tackle and it's been smooth sailing every since.

The Steelers are 4-0 with Starks back in the lineup. And no one has benefited more with Starks back than Roethlisberger. Without Starks, Roethlisberger threw five interceptions compared to only three touchdown passes. With Starks, Roethlisberger has thrown 11 TD passes and only two picks.

"I wish I could say there's something I did that was miraculous," Starks said. "But I just came in and did what I have always done. I'm just trying to be as helpful as possible to whoever needs it."

BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER

On the day the Steelers reported to training camp, Mike Wallace raised some eyebrows by saying his goal was to rack up 2,000 receiving yards this season. That was quite a statement considering the NFL record of 1,848 was set by Jerry Rice in 1995.

At this stage of the season, it's virtually impossible for Wallace to get close to Rice's record let alone reach 2,000. But with 800 yards, he's on pace to shatter the Steelers' single-season record of 1,398 set by Yancey Thigpen in 1997.

Wallace, who leads the Steelers with five touchdowns, is arguably the NFL's best deep threat. He has six catches of 40 yards or more this season including TD catches of 81 and 95 yards. The 95-yarder is longest pass play in franchise history.

BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER

LaMarr Woodley is red-hot. In the last four games, he's recorded 7.5 sacks and is tied for third in the NFL with nine. The left outside linebacker is showing why the Steelers signed him to that monster contract extension in August. But so is cornerback Ike Taylor, who also got a new deal during the preseason.

Taylor has yet to intercept a pass. But he's playing outstanding pass defense. Week in and week out, he takes on the opponent's best wide receivers and makes him non-factors. Steelers free safety Ryan Clark said Taylor "erases them."

In the last two weeks, Taylor has been at his best against two all-stars. He played Larry Fitzgerald tough in the win in Arizona, and this past Sunday, he was spectacular in shutting down New England's Wes Welker.

MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYER

I know that Bryant McFadden was bothered with a hamstring injury for much of training camp and again early in the season. But he hasn't even been listed on the official injury report for several weeks now. Not only has McFadden lost his starting job at cornerback to William Gay, but he can't even get on the field.

Keenan Lewis is now the No. 3 corner and in the past few games, it's been rookie Cortez Allen who's often come in when the Steelers use six defensive backs.

McFadden is being paid $2.5 million this season. That's a lot of money the Steelers are paying for a guy who right now is their fifth option at cornerback.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER

Certainly Gay and Lewis deserve consideration. They have played very well for the NFL's top-ranked pass defense. But second-year pro Antonio Brown has been especially impressive.

A wide receiver/kick return specialist, Brown is second on the team in receptions (34) and receiving yards (431).

Every practice, every game, Roethlisberger's trust in Brown increases. In the last four games - each Steeler wins - Roethlisberger has thrown to Brown more times than any other receiver.

And don't forget that Brown handles all kickoff and punt returns, and he's an above-the-line specialist. He's yet to break one for a touchdown this season, but he does have a 41-yard punt return and a 52-yard kickoff return.

Last year as a rookie, Brown caught 16 passes for 167 yards and no touchdowns. He's on pace this year for 68 catches, 862 yards and four TDs. He's developing into a productive and exciting weapon for the Steelers.
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Old 11-03-2011, 10:24 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers mid-season report

In my opinion:

MVP: William Gay
Best: Offensive Player: (would be Gay if Tomlin used him on offense)
Best Defensive Player: William Gay
Most Disappointing: NOT William Gay
Most Improved: William Gay
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Old 11-03-2011, 10:37 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers mid-season report

MVP: Ike Taylor
Best: Offensive Player: Mike Wallace
Best Defensive Player: Ike Taylor
Most Disappointing: Lawrence Timmons
Most Improved: William Gay
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Old 11-03-2011, 11:20 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers mid-season report

Quote:
Originally Posted by ETL View Post
In my opinion:

MVP: William Gay
Best: Offensive Player: (would be Gay if Tomlin used him on offense)
Best Defensive Player: William Gay
Most Disappointing: NOT William Gay
Most Improved: William Gay
LOLLLL
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Old 11-03-2011, 11:27 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers mid-season report

MVP: Max Starks- basically saved the offense
Best Offensive: Wallace
Best Defensive: Taylor
Most Disappointing: Timmons- Polamalu has been dull, but has had a few plays
Most Improved: Gay- Keisel is playing a lot better too, he just wasn't as bad as Gay
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Old 11-03-2011, 11:57 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers mid-season report

MVP: Max Starks (Agree with above poster) - Protect ben enough and we got production big time. That didn't happen until we picked up a capable LT. Wonder how many NFL teams are kicking themselves for not picking him up when all 31 had a chance.

Best: Offensive Player: Mike Wallace. He's on the verge of stardom

Best Defensive Player: Ziggy Hood. It's unfortunate that it took an Aaron smith injury for it to happen, but as soon as he was back in the lineup, good things happened for the defense. Lamarr Woodley became mr. october, coincidence that this all happened when Hood was starting? Maybe not.

Most Disappointing: Rashard Mendenhall. Frustrating to see someone so talented not be consistent, although the O-line might have something to do with that.

Most Improved: William Gay without a doubt. Keenan Lewis a close 2nd
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Old 11-04-2011, 01:56 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers mid-season report

Quote:
Originally Posted by tanda10506 View Post
MVP: Max Starks- basically saved the offense
Best Offensive: Wallace
Best Defensive: Taylor
Most Disappointing: Timmons- Polamalu has been dull, but has had a few plays
Most Improved: Gay- Keisel is playing a lot better too, he just wasn't as bad as Gay
Polamalu has been dull?

What have you been watching?
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Old 11-04-2011, 02:40 AM   #8
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Default Re: Steelers mid-season report

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanRooney View Post
Polamalu has been dull?

What have you been watching?
WOW! no shit...

polamalu has been electric and makes atleast several big plays per game that directly impact the outcome of our 6 wins.

i'd love to comment on how rediculously absurd and non-observant tanda's comment is, but i would probably just be called a big ol meanie.

(i am now trying to not vehemently disagree with people who say completely stupid crap. this tact probably wont last though....)
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Old 11-04-2011, 12:26 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steelers mid-season report

MVP - Ben Roethlisberger
Best Offensive Player - Ben Roethlisberger
Best Defensive Player - LaMarr Woodley
Most Disappointing - Lawrence Timmons
Most Improved - William Gay
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Old 11-04-2011, 12:53 PM   #10
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Default Re: Steelers mid-season report

MVP: Max Starks - Don't see how it could be anyone else. I'm not sure I've ever witnessed such an immediate and vast turn around due to a single player. The entire team has benefited from Max's return.

Best Offensive: Ben - He's one of a kind and I'm sure glad he plays for my team.

Best Defensive: Woodley - I put about as much stock into the "sacks" stat as I do QB rating or 40 times which is absolute zero. That's not to say I don't enjoy seeing him rack them up, I just don't believe it has any value as an evaluation tool. That being said, Woodley has been ferocious. Could have gone with Ike here and Troy is always a strong candidate.

Best Special Teams: Sepulveda - Stay healthy Danny!

Biggest Disappointment: Kemo - Not that expectations were high for him, but I think he's gotten worse. I don't see any drop off when he is out and that should not be the case for a veteran OG who has started for as long as he has. Add in the stupid penalties to go along with the subpar play and you get pure disappointment.

Most Improved: William Gay - This is easy. I don't believe he was as bad as most others thought he was coming into the season, but there is no denying he has taken his game to a new level.
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