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Old Yesterday, 04:01 AM   #1
Galax Steeler
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Default Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 9.15.14

Ray Fittipaldo: Welcome to my weekly Steelers chat. Post your questions and we'll get started.

WCoastSteelerFan: Coach Cowher left Coach Tomlin a bunch of near Hall of Fame players across the offense and defense. Can you name any players Tomlin has drafted that fit into that category?

Ray Fittipaldo: First off, it's not just Tomlin drafting the players. It's Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert and his scouting department. I get your point. The players drafted in recent years have not lived up to their potential on some occasions. Timmons and Woodley came in Tomlin's first draft. They've been two good players. The 2008 draft was pretty much a bust through and through. The 2009 draft produced Mike Wallace, another good player. Perhaps 2010 was the best draft for Tomlin's tenure. They got Pouncey, who is a very good center, and Antonio Brown in the sixth round. Brown could end up being that borderline guy you spoke of when you asked your question. And it's too early to comment on some of the more recent drafts.

Rich Hoffer: Doesn't LeBeau like to blitz anymore?

Ray Fittipaldo: The Steelers are bringing pressure. Teams are picking up the blitzes better and the players blitzing are doing a good enough job of getting home as some of LeBeau's players from previous years had.

Ryan: Is it time for Dick Lebeau to hang up the clipboard? Defense is looking too bad the last couple years.

Ray Fittipaldo: It's really only been mediocre since the beginning of 2014. Even though the Steelers struggled to produce turnovers in 2011 and 2012 those defenses still ranked very well in the league's statistical rankings. Now they're ranked low in the stats and they don't produce turnovers. Certainly, it's something that has to be fixed, but I don't know how much of it is LeBeau and how much of it is the talent he has to work with.

Pedro: Ray, how can anyone that has watched Marcus Gilbert defend the new contract he received? How can the Steelers misjudge their own talent so badly?

Ray Fittipaldo: I said this from the moment they targeted Gilbert to sign. It wasn't so much his performance as it was the performance of Mike Adams. Quite simply, they felt better going forward with Gilbert than Adams. I wrote a blog post on this back in training camp. The top free agent right tackles in 2013 made between $4 and 6 million per season on their new deals and most, if not all, of them ranked lower than Gilbert last season in Pro Football Focus' right tackle rankings. So either you pay Gilbert, someone you know, or you pay someone like him who won't be familiar with your system.

Rich Hoffer: I don't want to panic, but I am anyway. What's wrong with the Steelers?

Ray Fittipaldo: The defense canít stop the run, rush the QB or produce turnovers. The offense hasn't scored a TD since the second quarter of the Browns game. Other than that everything is great.

JamesinNYC: Is it possible Timmons cannot handle calling the plays? Is there anyone else that can do it?

Ray Fittipaldo: I talked to Timmons about that today and I'll have on that in the paper and online tomorrow. In a nutshell, he says he continues to get comfortable there. It's a bigger adjustment than most realize. Not only is he calling the plays now but he is playing a new position after seven years at mack.

Steve: Too early to tell, but thoughts on whether Shazier may be too "small" to play inside in NFL & whether Dri is too small to break enough tackles in this league to be successful?

Ray Fittipaldo: I think it's wait and see on both. I think Shazier eventually will be fine and he'll do well in this defense. I wonder about Archer because the opportunities to make an impact in the return game have dwindled in recent years yet they cited special teams as one of the reasons they invested a third-round pick in him. He isn't returning punts and almost every kickoff has gone for a touchback. If he doesn't contribute in the offense I have a hard time seeing how he is worth a third-round pick. Maybe when the weather changes and he is able to return more kicks that pick will look better but right now the value isn't there. But it's early.

Johnny: Are the current Steelers a result of the team drafting for backups/depth and not future starters in the past years? It seems as if nobody was ever brought in to push a vet from 2008-2011

Ray Fittipaldo: Pouncey started right away and Brown was an impact player from late in his rookie season on. Those are just two. DeCastro looks like he'll be a good player. They've drafted some good players but they've also whiffed on a few as well. I don't think anyone will tell you the drafts in recent years have been among the best in team history. But they haven't been as bad as some out there make them out to be.

Steve: How much Steelers giving up big plays on D is due to diminished play by Troy & Ike vs. coaching & the new members of the D backfield?

Ray Fittipaldo: I think it's a combination of everything to be honest with you. Ike and Cortez each have dropped INTs the first two weeks. And I'm sure Mitchell is still getting comfortable. It just seems like teams have figured out how to attack this defense better in recent years. Tomlin has remarked how the zone run game is difficult for 3-4 teams to defend. Short passing games have caused some problems, too. Teams are doing a much better job of coaching against the Steelers in recent years. Of course, you can argue the Steelers coaches haven't done a good enough job of adjusting to that. And you might have a point.

AZ Steeler: Ray, thank you for taking the time for these chats. I was wondering what you think of the signing of Mike Mitchell. I watched him in the pre season and was not impressed. Against the Ravens he played like a rookie using bad judgment with those penalties. Is he really am upgrade over Ryan Clark?

Ray Fittipaldo: Ryan Clark's age showed last season so they had to move on from him. Mitchell had a good year in Carolina last year, but he struggled in his first few seasons in Oakland. He hasn't been very good in run support and he hasn't been around the ball much on passing plays. I'm sure the coaches are hoping for improvement.

DSF: I think one of the biggest problems is that there is no one on defense that is a star player at this point. Everyone is average, and if not average, too new to contribute. There is not one DL who can command a double team much less hold the point of attack and neither OLB can set the edge or rush the passer. There is a severe lack of talent, seems like there is not much hope.

Rich Hoffer: Will Dri Archer be paying this week? He suddenly looks like the key to the offense.

Ray Fittipaldo: I am not sure about Archer, but I did talk to Lance Moore today and it's looking like he might be able to play against the Panthers.

TimC: Is Tomlin on the hot seat?

Ray Fittipaldo: No. If the team doesn't make the playoffs this season he might be on the hot seat next season, but not this year.

WCoastSteelerFan: Can you think of any rational reason to be optimistic that the Steelers can have a successful (10-6 or better) season this year?

Ray Fittipaldo: Not at this point. I said 9-7 before the season and I am starting to wonder about that. But I do caution people that it's early and the schedule is not one of the more difficult ones in the league this year.

Dave: I feel Tomlin gets too much of a pass for not having enough talent. For starters he helps draft the talent. Secondly, if talent dictates everything then why do we need coaches? Great coaches get the most out of their players and I'm just wondering when Tomlin will ever be held accountable.

Ray Fittipaldo: He'll be held accountable, but I just don't think they'll look at making a change this year unless things really unravel and the players quit on him. Something like that would have to happen for them to get away from their approach with head coaches. Now coordinators... that's another story. Those changes come much more frequently and I would suspect change could happen there if the team doesn't make the playoffs.

Rich Hoffer: Would love your opinion of the O-Line so far.

Ray Fittipaldo: I think it's been below average. I'm writing something for the blog that will be published tomorrow morning on the play of the offensive line and the defensive line. To me, that's where the Ravens game was lost. The Ravens set the tone early and those units for the Steelers never responded.

Dave: If they decide signing Gilbert and Allen were both mistakes, what options do they have and how much money and cap space will it cost them to rectify it?

Ray Fittipaldo: They're not going to rectify any mistakes -- if there are any-- a few weeks after they signed them. They're paying them large sums of money to perform and they're going to let them try to improve.

Rich Hoffer: Can't wait for my #11 Jersey to come in the mail. I think Wheaton is going to have a good year.

Ray Fittipaldo: He's been one of the few bright spots.

Nick: Any new starters this week? Any new actives/inactives?

Ray Fittipaldo: Lance Moore coming back from injury and likely to start ahead of Justin Brown. That's about it at this point. I don't expect Tomlin to make other changes at this point. Maybe a guy like Tuitt plays more and maybe Shamarko Thomas plays more, but I don't think is looking to replace starters this early in the season.

Rob: Noting all the problems on defense (which I completely agree) do you see a fix for what ails them?

Ray Fittipaldo: Tackling better would be a good first step. Holding up at the point of attack would be another. They got pushed around by the Ravens, a team mind you that was ranked 30th in rushing last season. That does not bode well in my opinion.

keith: We can talk about the confusion and being out of place in the total defensive schemes, but the more obvious question to me is why one-on-one performances are so far below the line. Case in point: Mclendon, Gilbert, and all the DB's. Do you see the same issues?

Ray Fittipaldo: My main takeaway from the Ravens game after watching it again was the way they decided to block the Steelers. They never attempted to double Steve McLendon. Sometimes they didn;t block him at all (on purpose). They got their guards to the second level quick and blocked the linebackers knowing the Steelers defensive linemen could be single blocked. If you watch the game over the guards don't even look at ever double-teaming any defensive linemen. Their first thought was getting to the second level.

Guest: I remember when the Steelers would go huge stretches without allowing a 100 yard rusher. Is it the loss of Hampton, change in scheme? They seemed to have fallen so far so fast.

Ray Fittipaldo: After the Ravens game I wondered how many times opponents had rushed for 150 yards or more in consecutive games against the Steelers in recent years. Well, it happened twice last year, which only goes to show much they struggled against the run last year. Hampton has been a big loss, but so is Aaron Smith. Theie defensive end play hasn't been really all that great either, which is why they likely selected Tuitt in the second round.

Jerry: I understand the theory that you dont need a nose tackle with todays new pass happy offenses, but explain to me what a player like mccullers taking up two people to block him hurts any defensive scheme? Mclendon is not getting it done.

Ray Fittipaldo: What makes you think offensive coordinators would call for double teams on McCullers? I saw him get singled blocked plenty of times in the preseason. If he was the answer he'd be out there.

Guest: Can Shamarko Thomas play Mike Mitchell's position?

Ray Fittipaldo: Shamarko can play both safety positions.

Big Jim: I think way too many missed tackles has been a big part of the problems on defense. Whats your take ?

Ray Fittipaldo: That's a good observation. Timmons had five alone versus the Ravens.

Big Rep: Do you see the steelers switching to a 4-3? i think its a better fit for the team at this momment considering the dline is looking horrible. A NT like cam thomas getting pushed back 10 yards is simply not acceptable

Ray Fittipaldo: Not in the middle of a season.

Tyrone: Do you think Tuitt should start over Cam Thomas? It seems like Cam Thomas is very average so they might as well give the start to the younger player with more upside.

Ray Fittipaldo: I do think we'll see more of Tuitt if Cam Thomas continues to struggle. Not sure he'll start just yet, but they won't stand pat if someone continues to play poorly.

JamesinNYC: 18 1-1 teams 6 2-0, 6 0-2 ,1 1-0, 1 0-1 anything can happen at this point right?

Ray Fittipaldo: Absolutely. That's why the NFL season is so great. Loy]ts of ebbs and flows. If the Steelers win this week people will be here next week asking about playoff seeding.

Bradley: Was the hiring of the new oline coach all hype? Or worth the money?

Ray Fittipaldo: Eventually, it will be worth it, but he is coaching the same players the other coach had. He'll help these guys, but to expect a complete 180 in one year was asking too much.

Guest: Is Ben OK? That Bat sack seemed to slow him down

Ray Fittipaldo: Ben practiced today.

Steel City Meltdown: That 30th ranked rushing attack of the Ravens looks pretty good. The Steelers are moving from bad to worse. Time for some major changes on this team.

Ray Fittipaldo: That same Ravens offense rushed for considerably less the previous week against the Bengals. That's why I think there is cause for concern.

Ray Fittipaldo: That's it for this week. We'll do it again the same time next week provided United Airlines gets me back to Pittsburgh on time. Thanks for participating.

http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/s...s/201409150176
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Old Yesterday, 04:57 AM   #2
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Default Re: Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 9.15.14

Damn, he doesn't really sugar coat does he? Glad to see it since so many still got them rose coloreds on. One disagreement I have though:


"Ray Fittipaldo: What makes you think offensive coordinators would call for double teams on McCullers? I saw him get singled blocked plenty of times in the preseason. If he was the answer he'd be out there."


I'm not saying McCullers is the answer but even if he was I am not sure our coaches would recognize it or make the decision this early. I mean we all knew from preseason how bad Cam Thomas is and the coaches can't seem to get that one figured out.
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Old Yesterday, 05:03 AM   #3
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Default Re: Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 9.15.14

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Damn, he doesn't really sugar coat does he? Glad to see it since so many still got them rose coloreds on. One disagreement I have though:


"Ray Fittipaldo: What makes you think offensive coordinators would call for double teams on McCullers? I saw him get singled blocked plenty of times in the preseason. If he was the answer he'd be out there."


I'm not saying McCullers is the answer but even if he was I am not sure our coaches would recognize it or make the decision this early. I mean we all knew from preseason how bad Cam Thomas is and the coaches can't seem to get that one figured out.
Just because some people are more optimistic about this team doesn't mean they're seeing through rose colored lenses. We have a young team, and guys are learning things on the fly. We need to give this team some time to mesh. Two games into the season isn't long enough. They'll find their identity. If they don't, well then we're in trouble. But right now, all I see is a team that needs to stop making mental mistakes, get the fundamentals down, and then we'll start to have more success.
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Old Yesterday, 05:08 AM   #4
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Default Re: Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 9.15.14

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Just because some people are more optimistic about this team doesn't mean they're seeing through rose colored lenses.
Sure they are. I am not saying it is necessarily a bad thing to do so, but it seems to me you are in for a bigger letdown if you keep expecting to see a turnaround when there are no signs pointing that way.

We are coming off of back to back 8-8 seasons, a 1-3 preseason and a 1-1 start that could just as easily be 0-2. And there are no signs actually pointing up as we speak right now. Unless you consider Lance Moore returning to be a major turning point.

Quote:
We have a young team, and guys are learning things on the fly. We need to give this team some time to mesh. Two games into the season isn't long enough. They'll find their identity. If they don't, well then we're in trouble. But right now, all I see is a team that needs to stop making mental mistakes, get the fundamentals down, and then we'll start to have more success.
Sure, but you could say this about other teams as well. Sometimes it simply doesn't happen.
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Old Yesterday, 05:13 AM   #5
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Default Re: Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 9.15.14

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Sure they are. I am not saying it is necessarily a bad thing to do so, but it seems to me you are in for a bigger letdown if you keep expecting to see a turnaround when there are no signs pointing that way.

We are coming off of back to back 8-8 seasons, a 1-3 preseason and a 1-1 start that could just as easily be 0-2. And there are no signs actually pointing up as we speak right now. Unless you consider Lance Moore returning to be a major turning point.



Sure, but you could say this about other teams as well. Sometimes it simply doesn't happen.
It's your opinion that there are no signs pointing towards a turnaround.

Sure we could say that about a lot of other teams. So what? Doesn't mean it can't or won't happen.
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Old Yesterday, 05:14 AM   #6
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Default Re: Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 9.15.14

One thing can't be denied. This team is missing more tackles than at any time I could remember.

Way too many players are trying to tackle ball carriers high. It is fundamentally wrong to tackle like that, and is contributing to the missed tackles. How many times are we going to see a running back grabbed around the shoulder pads? That won't work consistently.
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Old Yesterday, 05:16 AM   #7
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Default Re: Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 9.15.14

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It's your opinion that there are no signs pointing towards a turnaround.
Ok. But it is a very valid opinion backed up by video evidence

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Sure we could say that about a lot of other teams. So what? Doesn't mean it can't or won't happen.
True. But my point is look at the teams with fans who are always seeing things that way.
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Old Yesterday, 05:21 AM   #8
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Default Re: Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 9.15.14

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One thing can't be denied. This team is missing more tackles than at any time I could remember.

Way too many players are trying to tackle ball carriers high. It is fundamentally wrong to tackle like that, and is contributing to the missed tackles. How many times are we going to see a running back grabbed around the shoulder pads? That won't work consistently.
Actually this is a good starting point for what I am getting at and should be expanded on. The reason I say there aren't many signs of a turnaround kind of goes back to this. If it was simply a matter of our team adjusting to the defense or each other I would see hope because clearly that would clean itself up as the season went on.

However, we are just playing bad at the most basic of levels. We can't tackle, we our being outmanned 1 on 1, our DB's are getting into position for INT's but can't catch them. So if we aren't even looking good at the most basic levels of football....Well, I just don't see an upward trend.
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Old Yesterday, 05:29 AM   #9
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Default Re: Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 9.15.14

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Actually this is a good starting point for what I am getting at and should be expanded on. The reason I say there aren't many signs of a turnaround kind of goes back to this. If it was simply a matter of our team adjusting to the defense or each other I would see hope because clearly that would clean itself up as the season went on.

However, we are just playing bad at the most basic of levels. We can't tackle, we our being outmanned 1 on 1, our DB's are getting into position for INT's but can't catch them. So if we aren't even looking good at the most basic levels of football....Well, I just don't see an upward trend.
I understand your point and the way you look at it, but this defense will improve. There are too many young players to not improve. If I were LeBeau, I would be having tackling drills and work on fundamentals. That alone would help considerably if they improve their tackling.

Don't forget, Mitchelll didn't get to do OTA's with Troy because Troy worked out on his own. Then Mitchell go hurt, and missed working with Troy through most of the preseason. There are a lot of subtleties in this defense and working with Troy. I think some of that will be worked out in the next couple games.

I think Tuitt will play more, because he has to. Cam Thomas is a veteran player, and he's getting pushed all over the field. I don't view Thomas as the future of this team, and I don't think he's going to improve all that much.

Shazier will continue to improve, and his speed and instincts will be able to shine when he has quicker recognition and just plays instead of thinks on the field.

There's still hope Cyphon. I truly believe they will get better.
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Old Yesterday, 10:04 AM   #10
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Default Re: Ray Fittipaldo's Steelers chat transcript: 9.15.14

Does it disturb anyone else that actual journalists treat Pro Football Focus grades like the fucking bible of player evaluation?
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