Who are the SteezBros?

Welcome to SteezBros! SteezBros is a Steeler Blog run by three brothers who are all huge Steeler fans. If the true definition of fan is fanatic, we fit the bill. We were born into Steeler fandom. Love of the Steelers goes back many generations in our family. It's in our blood. You can read our "Welcome to SteezBros" post in the archive if you are interested in more information about us and the blog. Thanks for reading and check back often!


Thursday, April 29, 2010

How Badly Will Big Ben's Suspension Hurt The Steelers

Brian Burke at the excellent blog Advanced NFL Stats tries to tackle this question. In the write up below, Burke notes that the replacement of Roethlisburger with an average quarterback would probably result in one extra loss over four games. With Big Ben we might go 3-1, but without him, we would go 2-2. But, the Steelers back ups have played much better than average in the last four years. I hope that trend continues for at least four to six more games.

Over his career, Roethlisberger has averaged 6.7 net yards per attempt (NYPA) and a 3.4% interception rate. In 2009, the league average was 6.2 NYPA and 3.1% int rate. According to my game probability model, all things being equal, Roethlisberger's passing stats would turn an average team into one with a 57% chance of beating an average opponent.

If we replace him with a substitute for a few games, it's hard to predict how the Steelers' passing game would do. But just as an exercise, say their passing game drops by one standard deviation. Their NYPA would be 5.7 and their int rate would be 4.5%. All else equal, this would drop them from a 57% team to a 40% team.

If the suspension, which is expected to be announced later today, were for four games, you could think of it as a 4 * 0.17 = 0.7 win penalty for Pittsburgh.

But there's something unusual about Roethlisberger's replacements over the past several years. Since 2006, Steeler backup QBs have averaged 7.4 NYPA and a 2.1% int rate, a substantial improvement over Roethlisberger's numbers! Charlie Batch, Byron Leftwhich, and Dennis Dixon combined for 1930 yards on 243 attempts. They gave up 5 ints and 54 sack yards. The backup QBs differed from Roethlisberger primarily in int rate and sack rate.

Roethlisberger was sacked on 9.1% of his drop backs, while his replacements were sacked at a 4.0% clip. Assuming a backup, whoever it is, continues to perform so well, he would make a 50% team into a 67% team.

The backups were sometimes playing in lower leverage situations, so it's not fair to expect they would continue to perform as well as they did. It's also likely they would regress to the mean, but it's hard to say by how much.

Still, these numbers might make it easier for the Steelers to consider putting Roethlisberger on the trading block.

For reference, you can see how the Steeler backups compare to Roethlisberger in terms of Win Probability Added (WPA) and Expected Points Added (EPA) over thepast several seasons here.

What do you think? What will the Steelers' record be after four games?

Processing the Draft

The dust has settled from the three day NFL draft. And it's time to weigh in.

If you missed the draft, here is a rundown of the players selected by the Steelers.

After the draft, I like to evaluate two questions:

1. What was the strategy?
It's difficult to clearly label Kevin Colbert strategy. Philly likes to draft linemen and New England will almost always trade down, but the Steelers will sometimes trade down, sometimes trade up, sometimes draft for need, and sometimes draft the best player available. Whatever the strategy, the front office has done a great job the last 10+ years.

This year, after the first round pick, the most puzzling decision was the drafting of three linebackers. With Harrison, Farrior, Timmons, Woodley, Foote, and Fox already in the line up, the Steelers had bigger positions of need. The depth at outside linebacker was pretty weak, but Jason Worilds and Thad Gibson won't be making much of an impact on this defense any time soon unless Deebo or Woodley gets injured. Defensive rookies rarely start for Dick Lebeau. Joey Porter, Jason Gildon, LaMarr Woodley, and James Harrison first made an impact on special teams before becoming starters. And if there is one area the team needs to improve, it's special teams. So maybe Worilds, Gibson, and Sylvester can improve the special teams while they make the transition from defensive end to linebacker.
With the rest of the picks, the Steelers tried to add competition in a variety of spots. Another late round lineman will push the back up tackles. A new third round wide receiver can be tutored by Hines Ward and hopefully become the next Mike Wallace. A late round corner to push Joe Burnett and Keenan Lewis. A big running back for the fans to adore. And a developmental project at defensive end to push Ziggy Hood and Sunny Harris. Mike Tomlin loves competition. Hopefully the rookies will provide it.

2. Is the team better after the draft?

There are three ways this team improved through the draft.

1. Offensive Line - The O-line needed an infusion of talent. Maurkice Pounceyis a talented man. If Pouncey can play well at right guard, the Steelers could become a dominant offensive team. The Steelers struggled running the ball in the red zone. As a result, they kicked a lot of field goals. Willie Colon and Pouncey, with Kemo pulling from the left, should be able to open more holes for Mendenhall. Trai Essex wasn't bad in pass protection last year, but he's more of a finesse player than a mauling blocker. With Big Ben out four to six games, the Steelers need to become a much better rushing team. Maurkice Pouncey will help.

2. Special Teams - The team didn't draft a bunch of back up linebackers for nothing. Speed and desire was desperately needed on Special Teams. There are no excuses.

3. Cornerback - At the end of the day Friday, I was really confused. The Steelers needed help in the defensive backfield and a late round pick wasn't going to cut it. Ike Taylor, Willie Gay, Joe Burnett, and Keenan Lewis were torched last year. They combined for one interception. Beyond offensive line, it was the one area that desperately needed some help. The front office noticed and brought back an old face - Bryant McFadden. McFadden is by no means a superstar, but he can fill the #2 cornerback role and let Gay and Burnett continue to improve in the nickel and dime packages. This is a big upgrade and, combined with Troy's return, should make the Steelers a top three defense next year.

Overall, I would have liked to see the team get more players that could make an immediate impact. Depth at safety and youth on the defensive line wouldn't have hurt either. Many called this draft one of the strongest in a decade. In the near term, the Steelers got only one or two players that will improve the team immediately. Guys like Worilds, Gibson, and Sanders need some time to develop. Who knows? Maybe Dwyer can become the big back that Pittsburgh loves. But that's not the Steelers M.O. The team almost always drafts for the future. It's worked well in the past. Let's hope it continues.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


According to multiple sources, Big Ben has been suspended for 6 games. The sentence could be reduced to 4 games with good behavior.

Ben will miss games against Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, and Baltimore. He could potentially miss games against Cleveland and Miami as well.

The suspension will be without pay. Meaning Roethlisberger will miss out on checks worth between $1.9 and $3.3 million. I know he's already rolling in dough, but that's a heck of a lot of money.
Big Ben could appeal the suspension. It's unlikely though. The appeal would be heard by Roger Goodell. The man who suspended Roethliberger in the first place.

If you ask me, the suspension is a little harsh for someone who was never charged with a crime. I understand that players are expected to live up to a higher standard than "was not charged with a crime", but I still think this is overly harsh. Especially considering the other side of the story that the media seems to ignore.

Along with this report, the Post Gazette and ESPN are reporting that the Steelers are considering trade options. Originally, I would have said this is absurd. But, I'm starting to think it's as likely to happen as not.

Stay tuned.

Steelers Trade for Byron Leftwich

The Steelers traded a 7th round pick to Tampa Bay to bring back Byron Leftwich. Interestingly enough, the Steelers received a 7th round compensatory draft pick for losing Leftwich a year ago.

What does it mean? Will the team cut Batch or Dixon to make room for Leftwich? Which of the three will start when Big Ben is suspended? Will the team carry 4 quarterbacks?

Does this set up the team to trade Big Ben?

Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Steelers Schedule Released

The release of the Steelers schedule held more importance this year than year's past. For all the hoopla, the NFL schedule release means very little. We already knew all of the team's opponents. Heck, we know 14 of the 16 opponents the Steelers will face in 2011 (if there isn't a lockout). The only new information is date and time.

But with the impending suspension of Big Ben, the date and time of games is more important than ever. ESPN is reporting the suspension will be 4-6 games. The first four games for the Steelers will be Atlanta, at Tennessee, at Tampa Bay and Baltimore. Three of the four teams missed the playoffs last year, but Atlanta and Tennessee are good teams that have the potential to bounce back after making the playoffs in 2008. Tampa Bay is still re-building. And the game against Baltimore is one of the most important of the season. Week 5 is the team's bye. Week 6 brings a matchup against Cleveland

Overall, it's not too bad. It could have been worse. We could have played Baltimore, Cincinnati. New Orleans and New England. The week 5 bye could be fortuitous if Ben's suspension is five or six games. But, it's no cakewalk either. Atlanta, Tennessee, and Baltimore are good teams.

I wouldn't complain too much about a 2-2 start.

Here is the schedule in its entirety:

Sept. 12 vs. Atlanta, 1 p.m. ET
Sept. 19 at Tennessee, 1 p.m. ET
Sept. 26 at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m. ET
Oct. 3 vs. Baltimore, 1 p.m. ET
Oct. 10 Bye
Oct. 17 vs. Cleveland, 1 p.m. ET
Oct. 24 at Miami, 1 p.m. ET
Oct. 31 at New Orleans, 8:20 p.m. ET (Sunday Night)
Nov. 8 at Cincinnati, 8:30 p.m. ET (Monday Night)
Nov. 14 vs. New England, 8:20 p.m. ET (Sunday Night)
Nov. 21 vs. Oakland, 1 p.m. ET
Nov. 28 at Buffalo, 1 p.m. ET
Dec. 5 at Baltimore, 8:20 p.m. ET (Sunday Night)
Dec. 12 vs. Cincinnati, 1 p.m. ET
Dec. 19 vs. NY Jets, 4:15 p.m. ET
Dec. 23 vs. Carolina, 8:20 p.m. ET (Thursday night)
Jan. 2 at Cleveland, 1 p.m. ET

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Back to Football

If you told Art Rooney, Kevin Colbert, and Mike Tomlin in January that mid-April would be a crazy time for the Steelers, they probably would have agreed. After all, the NFL Draft is in mid-April. And there is plenty of drama debating the merits of the many 300+ lb men that will become professional football players.

But I doubt they would have predicted this. Santonio Holmes, our troubled Super Bowl MVP winner, publicly admitting via twitter to “wake and baking”, then subsequently being suspended for violating the NFL substance abuse policy and being traded for a 5th round draft pick and a case of Iron City (love those aluminum bottles). At the same time, your two-time Super Bowl winning QB was being accused (for the second time) of sexual assault.

It has been a troubling time to work for (or root for) the Steelers.

Heck, even after the DA informed the public that there was not nearly enough evidence to charge Roethlisberger with a crime, the media and the public have skewered Big Ben and demanded punishment. For many examples, see:

Jeffrey Chadiha on ESPN writes “Roethlisberger must face the hammer”
Peter King from CNNSI writes “Ben Roethlisberger deserves to be suspended for his actions
Mark Kriegel of FoxSports writes “Roethlisberger has earned punishment
Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette writes “If Roethlisberger isn’t suspended…there is no justice in the NFL.
Pat McManamon at NFL Fanhouse writes “It’s time for the Steelers to cut Ben Roethlisberger"

Again, this is in response to the decision NOT to charge Big Ben with a crime.

I spent a significant time yesterday writing a post to respond to these morally righteous reactions. Granted, I’ll never be accused of objectivity when defending a player on my favorite team, but I just don’t agree with the large majority of what’s floating around the interwebs about the topic. Luckily, I didn’t have to post what I wrote because I found pieces by much more talented writers than myself that get to the heart of the issue.

Christmas Ape at KSK takes NFL Fanhouse to task

Cotter nails it at One For The Other Thumb

And Michael Rosenberg at CNNSI sums up my feelings nicely:

Now NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and/or Steelers President Art Rooney II may suspend Roethlisberger. The question is: for what? Buying drinks for underaged people? Being accused of a crime that he may or may not have committed, but was never even charged with?

I'm not saying a suspension is right or wrong; frankly, there is a mountain of evidence that Roethlisberger is a self-absorbed egomaniac with a heavy jerk streak, and I won't lose a minute of sleep if he is suspended. If I were a Steelers fan, I'd feel weird rooting for the guy.

I'm just saying: if players can be suspended for being egomaniacs and jerks, this is opening a very large can full of very nasty worms.

But enough of the off-field issues. This post is dedicated to actual football. The NFL Draft is one week away and the Steelers need to find impact players to get them back to the playoffs. Granted, our rookies rarely make an impact in their first year, so we’ll be relying on players like Ziggy Hood, Mike Wallace, Keenan Lewis, Joe Burnett, and Frank Summers to improve a team that went 9-7 a year ago.

If there was a silver lining to 2009, it was a good year to miss the playoffs. This draft class is being billed as one of the strongest of the last ten years. The Steelers need to capitalize on their position in the draft.

With their first round pick, there seems to be a consensus that the Steelers should look at one of four places:

1. Improving the secondary: William Gay was not the answer as a number two cornerback
2. Adding talent to the offensive line: The same argument has been made for five years. The running game struggles and Big Ben takes too many sacks.
3. Grooming a Future Nose Tackle: The three starter
4. Injecting talent and youth at Wide Receiver: With the trade of Santonio Holmes, the Steelers’ future looks shaky at wide receiver. Hines Ward will eventually get old. Outside of Mike Wallace, the rest of the cupboard is bare.

At each of these spots, there are several players that would fit nicely.
1. Joe Haden from Florida is the consensus number one corner in the draft. He was projected as a top ten pick, but submitted a slow 40 time at the combine, which has hurt his draft stock. After Haden, Kyle Wilson from Boise St. and Kareem Jackson from Alabama would likely be the next two off the board. Safety Earl Thomas from Texas has been mentioned as well. He could play as a corner in the nickel and provide back ups to Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu.

2. The mock drafts giving a Steeler an offensive lineman focus on two guys – Mike Iupati from Idaho and Maurkice Pouncey from Florida. Iupati is a monster of a man with rare athleticism for his size who could take Trai Essex’s spot at right guard and possibly replace Willie Colon at right tackle if he leaves in free agency next year. Iupati dominated in college, but there are questions about the level of competition he played in college and his ability to understand pass blocking schemes. Regardless of these concerns, it’s difficult for a guard to get a first round grade, meaning Iupati’s rare combination of power and athleticism give him the potential to be a top guard in the NFL. Maurkice Pouncey played both center and guard at Florida often leading the way for Tim Tebow’s dives into the end zone. There are no questions about the level of competition in the SEC where he lined up against nose tackles such as Shaun Cody and Dan Williams. As a Steeler he could start at right guard and eventually take over as Justin Hartwig’s replacement at center.

3. At nose tackle, there is really only one name to discuss in the first round– Dan Williams of Tennessee. He is being billed as the draft’s best pure nose tackle. A guy that can take on multiple blockers and single handedly stop an opponent’s running game. The two biggest questions facing this draft pick are: 1.) Will he be available? – several teams in front of the Steelers would love to draft Williams. 2) Do the Steelers have bigger needs? – with Big Snack re-signed for three years, is it necessary to draft his replacement now with the needs at cornerback, offensive line, and wide receiver?

4. At wide receiver, the conversation begins and ends with Dez Bryant, the superstar from Oklahoma State. Dez Bryant has rare talent and has been compared to Randy Moss. Unfortunately, the comparison is apt because Bryant comes in with a lot of baggage. He was suspended for most of his senior year for lying to the NCAA about his relationship with Deion Sanders. Other character concerns such as frequently attending practices late and general immaturity have been cited by scouts, which has caused his stock to fall from a top 5 pick to mid-late first round. I think a little too much has been made of the character concerns. Bryant has never been arrested, used drugs (that we know of), and was not considered a bad teammate. The length of the NCAA suspension was absurd.

This is how I think it will play out. Joe Haden will be at the top of the draft board, but the Steelers will have to move up to get him. San Francisco needs a corner and has two picks (#13 and #17) before the Steelers. If Haden gets past the 13th pick, the Steelers could move up, but I doubt he drops that far.

Dan Williams will be scooped up by Miami at #12.

After jettisoning Santonio, the team will avoid Dez Bryant due to character concerns (or he might go to Denver at #11).

Earl Thomas will be gone by the 18th pick and Iupati may be too.

Leaving the Steelers to choose from Kyle Wilson, Maurkice Pouncey, or the dreaded best player available.

If you made me pick right now, I think Pouncey will be the man.

Then again, there are rumors that Roethlisberger will be traded for Sam Bradford. (Red flag: This report brought to you by the guy who reported the Steelers would cut Casey Hampton.)

Those are my thoughts. What do you think the Steelers will/should do with their first round pick?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Whhattt? Goodbye Santonio

The crazy offseason continues. Multiple sources are confirming that the Steelers have traded the Super Bowl MVP to the Jets. A lawsuit was recently filed claiming Santonio threw a drink at a woman in a bar. Apparently the Steelers had enough of Santonio's off the field exploits (this is at least the third off the field incident since he was drafted).

I'm shocked by the news. Rumors have been circulating that the Steelers would not re-sign Holmes at the end of the 2010 season when his contract expires, but I fully expected him to be on the team in the coming year.

The compensation doesn't seem to be nearly enough for a receiver that eclipsed 1,200 yards last season. Perhaps the Steelers know more than we do. Profootball talk recently reported that Holmes will receive a four game suspension

Let the Dez Bryant rumors begin.