Friday, September 26, 2008
The Steez are in a world of hurt. After a beat down by filthadelphia, our players are hurt as bad as our pride. Willie is banged up and will be out for at least this game and next. Big Snack is down for the count this week, too. Another GIANT loss (both to the play of our D and body size) to our D line. The only remaining piece is Aaron Smith, arguably one of the best players on our D. Kirshke played well last week as did Roye and Eason, but now the have to spots to fill instead of one. Chris “I’ll jump in the Mon in January for any money” Hoke will also join in the rotation. Deshea and Troy are hurting as well but should play. Somehow Bung is still living. He has suffered as much trauma in the first few weeks as the New Yorker’s windshield did on 2nd and 10th. Still, the worst person in Pittsburgh is Bruce Arians. Just a terrible, terrible game in philly. An awful game plan and refusal to adjust to the game. Everyone and their brother knew philly was going to bring the house and Bruce wouldn’t plan for it or adjust. No screens, runs, or max protection? Tomlin needs to take the reigns from him or fire him. He is awful. With the weapons in our offense we should be a top five offense in the league but somehow we are ranked 29th overall, 18th running, and 29th passing. Absolutely inexcusable. Arians today took blame for the game, but instead of promising to include ways to stop a blitzing D, his reason for why was to put the game behind and have people stop talking about it. Coward. He’s a stubborn bitch and needs to go. Bruce Arians is a nugget. If he were half the coordinator that Dicky is we would be the best team in the league.
When the Steez Have the Ball:
We now have Mendenhall forced into the starting lineup. Great week to throw him into the lions den. The Raven’s D is going to make his first start a memorable one, not for the good. To make matters worse after the coaches warned “Delicious” Mendenhall about all the trash talking the Ravens will do, he made him self all the more delicious by sending a buddy on the Ravens team a text that said he’s “going to have a big game.” Mendy then said he didn’t expect the team to see it and it was a joke. What an idiot. Bulletin board material at its finest. They are going to be relentless stopping the run and they’re going to bring a shitload of people at Bungy, too. Kemo, now nicknamed “Big Juicy” and Co. better step up this week. Don’t expect the offense to start budding this week. But, you never know what Bung can do. We did rip apart this team last year on Monday night wearing our throwbacks, which is the exact situation as it will be this week. Yup, gold helmets boys.
When the Nevermore’s have the ball:
This team is not that great offensively, but they have a very good run game. With 2/3 of our D line out and a rookie quarterback from a D-2 School who’s never played on the road or on Monday night, the Ravens will undoubtedly rely on the run and Willis McGahee, if he can play. He is listed as probable after the Brownies gauged his eyes last week. He has some serious swelling and if he can’t see he won’t play. The Steez will try to shut down the run and make Flacco, a former PITT QB, beat them and not be a “game manager”. Without Snack and Keisel this could be hard to do but expect there to be some exotic blitzes and looks to confuse the rook. This unit has played well this year and should look good again on Monday.
This is going to be another tough good game. This game is going to depend on the O-Line and Mendy. They need to gain some leverage and keep the troops off Bungy. If the run is established and Arians doesn’t abandon it and there is pass protection the Steelers can move the ball and easily outscore the Ravens but if it’s anything like last week we are in big trouble. First place is on the line. Steez 17-9.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
The injury bug that has plagued the rest of the league in the first few weeks his hit the Steelers full force. Out for this week's crucial intradivision matchup vs. the Ravens are:
Deshea is questionable
Let's examine each injury and the effect it will have on the team and game plan for this week's game.
1) Keisel and Hampton are both important pieces on the D line. Going into the season, D line depth was an issue. Our D line is getting older, especially Aaron Smith and Big Snack. We have dependable backups in Chris Hoke and Travis Kirschke who have performed admirably when called on, especially Hoke. The Steelers front office also brought back a friendly face in Orpheous Roye after a stint with the Clev Brownies. Finally, there is Nick Eason who has played well this season.
Dick LeBeau likes to rotate his D line personal to keep everyone fresh later into games. With Keisel and Hampton out, he won't be able to do this nearly as much, leading to more tired D lineman late in the game. The starters will be Smith, Hoke and probably Eason with Kirschke and Roye coming in to spell them. Even though Hoke is a nice backup, he still is a downgrade from Casey. We will definetely miss the Snack blowing a few plays up completely when he ejects his lineman into the backfield. Playing a team like the Ravens magnifies the losses on the line. They are a run first team, especially since they start a rookie, Joe Flacco, at QB. Look for Harrison and Woodley to spend more time up on the line of scrimmage to guard against the run than dropping back into pass coverage.
2) Willie Parker's injury opens the door for our first real look at the Steez #1 draft pick this year, Rashard 'Delicious' Mendenhall. Delicious has only had 10 carries this year after a promising pre-season. He did have 2 fumbles in one of the preseason games leading to Steeler fans everywhere guaranteeing at least one fumble from him this week. I'm not predicting that, I have just been hearing whispers of it all around the city. Hopefully, we will see more of Mewelde Moore this week as well. He has only seen sporadic action thus far this season. Mewelde is a decent catcher of the ball. Hope springs eternal that this could be the week we start seeing some passes being caught by the backs. Losing Willie costs us some team speed and the threat of breaking a big one off to the outside. I think the Steelers need to establish the run early or at least establish that they are not afraid to run giving the ball to Rashard early and often to set up the play action passing later in the game. It will all come down to the o-line play, unfortunately. If it is like last week, it won't matter what plays we call. Unfortanely for Rashard, he is going up against the Ravens D this week. They have been one of the best defensive units so far this season. I see the O-line rebounding and Rashard having a decent day.
3) Deshea Townshend's absence has barely been noticed. Bryant McFadden has played outstanding ball so far this year, making plays happen all over the field. If Deshea does come back this week, I hope that McFadden remains the starter and Deshea comes in for nickel situations. Deshea isn't getting any younger and doesn't really have the speed anymore to defend the opposing team's number 1 or 2 receiver on the outside. He still has the skill and more importantly the smarts to cover the underneath stuff and jam the slot receiver coming off the ball. Also, being on the field less will help him not to get tired as easily.
Another key injury is Donovan Woods. He is a third string linebacker, but is a starter on special teams. Donovan has been all a beast on return coverage and has been a major reason for our improvement in kick coverage so far this season. We will defintely miss him this week in the kickoff/punt coverage situations.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Power Rankings here, here, and here,
Dj Gallo has a nice laugh at the offensive line’s expense.
ESPN’s Jeffri Chadiha asks the same questions we are asking:
The Eagles attacked with such alarming efficiency you wonder why the Steelers didn't change their strategy. They didn't try to keep the Eagles off-balance with screens or draw plays. Pittsburgh's reluctance to stick with the run was just as stunning.
CNNSI’s Don Banks had this to say:
See Roethlisberger drop back. See Roethlisberger under pressure. See Roethlisberger go down. Or hurriedly dump the ball off. Or run for his life. Or get hit even after he managed to buy enough time to find a receiver. Big Ben's going to be known as Big Bruise on Monday. Count on it. That's the very personal price he paid during the course of Philadelphia's 15-6 defeat of the previously unbeaten Steelers.
Lots of hating on Bruce Arians, Mike Tomlin, and Larry Zeirlein:
For now though, I think it's safe to say that Arians just got embarassed by Jim Johnson today.
I have no idea exactly how offensive line coaches teach their craft, but at this point, I think it's clear that Larry Zeirlein has to go.
Great minds think alike. Check out the picture. Remind you of this post.
Steeler Fury is breaking up with Bruce Arians. Read all the dirty laundry:
Dear Bruce, I'm sorry to say that I will be ending our relationship…It's not me, it's you… I will take down my Bruce Arians Fat Head this evening.
Ron Cook notes the coaches need to take some heat
The decision to go for it on 4th down was idiotic. More reason to doubt Tomlin.
Positive Comments Sections
Here are some positive thoughts from BTSC.
Allow me to conclude by saying that at least we are moving forward confident that we have a superb defense to keep us in games when our offense sputters, like today. With no defense, you rarely have a shot to make a run in the playoffs, let alone even make the playoffs. And unless you're one of the elite Colts offenses of year's past, our the 2007 Patriots, you're going to encounter dry spells on offense. It happens, even to very good teams. But without that consistent defense, the odds of stringing together winning streaks and competing against the better teams in the league, go way down.
Ron Cook says the Steelers are still the class of the AFC North. (That’s not saying much)
Troy’s awesome interception
I’m not the only one asking for more throws to the running back. The Steelers are last in the league. From the analysis done over at PGH:
Here is the info in another format from “most receptions by a RB” to “least receptions by a RB”. See any good offenses on the top of this list?
JJ Cooper at Fanhouse assigns sacks. Surprisingly, Kendall Simmons was not credited with any sacks allowed, but he did make this comment:
"I'm going to bite my tongue. All I'm going to say is they were bringing more people than we could handle. We can block five or six. But when they bring six or seven or eight people, there's nothing we can do." – Kendall Simmons
Unfortunately, the chart below proves Kendall’s comments had as much truth as presidential commercials. 7 of the sacks came on plays where the Eagles brought 5 or fewer people. The line just broke down.
NUMBER OF RUSHERS
Rushers -----No. of times ------Sacks
3--------------- 4------------------- 1
4 --------------19------------------- 2
5--------------- 6------------------- 4
7--------------- 4------------------- 0
From Steeler Fury:
By game, the Steelers are on pace to give up 69 sacks this season. However, they're giving up a sack every 5.5 pass attempts. If that continues and Ben's number of attempts increases to match last years' total, the Steelers are on pace to allow 82 sacks.
From Mondesi's house
Mike Tomlin's career road record in stadiums not located in Ohio... 1-6.
"I have stumbled upon a trend in Steelers football that not many people are taking notice of. It seems that the Steelers are a much worse team when kicking off at 4PM on the road, dating back to last season. In fact, I was so aware of this anomaly, that I selected the Eagles in my suicide pool this week. Allow me to substantiate my claim with statistical evidence.
The Steelers played 8 road games, and 4 of them were a 4PM kickoff (Arizona, Denver, NY Jets, and New England).The Steelers lost all 4 of these games. Arizona is a team we likely beat at home, Denver was mediocre last year, and the Jets were horrible. Now, take the Patriots game for what it is worth. Nobody beat the Pats last season until the super bowl (thank you Giants!), so perhaps that game doesn't count. Yesterday we get pounded and manhandled by an Eagles defense that had exactly ZERO sacks coming into the game. Eli Roth thought it was excessively violent. I have no conclusion here, I am just saying that perhaps we should be wary of the next 4PM kickoff road game. It happens to be New England who got throttled at home by the Fish."
The Steelers were 2-for-13 on third down.
Stats of the Week No. 2: Pittsburgh, which last week beat Cleveland for the 10th straight time, this week lost in Philadelphia for the eighth straight time.
If you have any links that you would like to be included, e-mail Josh at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After only three weeks, the Steelers two biggest concerns, a porous offensive line and an aging defensive line, are threatening to derail Pittsburgh's hopes for a fast start to the season. We know Hoke can do an adequate job at nose tackle, but this is a big blow to the defense. The Steelers game plan against Baltimore undoubtedly focused around stopping the run game first and making rookie QB Joe Flacco beat them through the air. It is much more difficult to stop the run game without Big Snack and Keisel eating up blockers.
For those of you demanding more carries for Mendenhall, you'll get your wish. Parker has never had much luck against the Ravens defense, and Rashard probably won't fare much better. It's a tough match up for his first start.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Despite all the pressure, the offense did not make any real adjustments. Where were the RB screens? Quick dump offs? Quick slants? Until the very end of the game, the formula was the same. Ben drops back to pass, avoids one unblocked man, gets hit by a different defender that smoked one of the offensive lineman, then another defensive player who beat his man jumped on top of the pile.
It's tough to put together any rational thoughts after watching that stink bomb. But, I'll do my best.
- The Steelers defense was abused early in the game. It was everything I have come to hate. No pressure on the quarterback (scheme related). McNabb dumped it off to RBs that were quicker than Steelers LBs. Foote missed countless plays. We couldn't get off the field on third down. Steelers cornerbacks played 15 yards off Wrs on third and 3. McNabb completes his first 15 passes. Basic, ugly football.
- But the defense turned it around. They forced three turnovers, pressured McNabb, and completely shut down the Eagles offense when it needed too. Troy looked like the best safety in the league and Woodley continued his stellar play. Timmons got some pressure. (It didn't hurt that Westbrook went out with an injury. )
- The special teams coverage units weren't as good as the last two games, but they did their job. The Eagles punter was spectacular. Unless the question is how do you run in a straight line, Mendenhall is not the answer at kick returner. Santonio had a couple shots at punt returner, but the punts were too good to make any judgments.
- Games are won in the trenches. The Eagles offensive and defensive lines played much better than the Steelers. Big Ben will be sore tomorrow. I like the Andy Reid philosophy of protecting your Qb with lineman better than Tomlin's philosophy of protecting your Qb with skill position players.
- Pittsburgh sure didn't look like the class of the AFC. But don't freak out, it was one game. Hopefully, Larry Zierlien, Bruce Arians, and Mike Tomlin learned something about this team. Next up, the AFC North leading Baltimore Ravens
Saturday, September 20, 2008
If there were ever a spelling bee for NFL fans, these guys would be world champs. I’ll spare you the details, but you all know the chant. Living in Philly, you hear it in grocery store lines, waiting for the train, in public bathrooms and just about anytime two drunken Eagles fans meet on the street. Normally everyone within earshot joins in, typically right about halfway through the “G.”
We all know the stereotypes; throwing batteries (size D, not your normal AA’s), booing Santa Claus, celebrating opponents injuries, and tailgating every event possible (trust me – I’ve seen my sidewalk tailgated just because it was a Thursday). Let’s face it – Eagles fan, have a reputation of having a relentless mean streak and being obnoxiously rude. Now, let’s be fair, every team has their share of fan idiocracy, but I’ve never been anywhere else where there exists a pure, unfounded hatred for all NFL teams other than the green and silver.
I remember the first time I donned a Steeler jersey and headed to the bar to watch the game. My mind filled with the horror stories I had heard, I had no idea what to expect, and frankly, I was quite nervous. I can handle heckling and jeering, but the thought of going fist-to-cuffs with a pack of wild McNabbs and Dawkins’s wasn’t very appealing. Needless to say, I survived the experience and even met a few fellow Steelers fans along the way. I’ve got a pretty good ability to keep a low profile, and combined with my mutual respect for the game and all fans, I’ve built a successful foundation as the accepted Steeler fan in my group of friends. Aside from the random, “Hey man… Pittsburgh Sucks” comments that are delivered when I make an entrance into an establishment, I’ve managed to avoid much conflict while supporting my team in
What this boils down to is that these experiences; being an outsider in a hostile environment, standing apart form the crowd, following my own path, and staying true to what I believe in, have come to define me as a person, and strengthen my love for the Steelers, and my general overall character. You really learn a lot about yourself when you’re vulnerable, exposed, and out of any sort of comfort zone. It’s made me feel like I have something special that no one else has, a Steeler team all for myself.
Luckily, I’m not a Giants or Cowboys (yuck) fan, these guys really take the brunt of the heckling down here. The Steeler/Eagles rivalry, being outside of any conference or division implications, is really more of a “friendly” rivalry that we can joke about and watch together knowing that regardless of the outcome of the game,
That being said, I genuinely feel as if the Eagles fans are almost envious of the Steelers, the stability of the organization, and (obviously) the championships. I will give them credit though, as ridiculous as they can be at times, Eagles fans are extremely passionate and actually quite knowledgeable about their team and the game itself. Perhaps if they stopped perpetuating all this negative energy, they might actually have a shot at a ring. It is my true belief though that every Eagles fan secretly wishes they were a Steelers fan – and if you don’t believe me, just scroll up to the top of the page and look at the guy in the middle of the picture.
-This post was written by my best friend of 24 years, David Scerbo who has been suffering in Philly for the past few years. Thanks for the awesome post.
First of all, you would be pretty pissy too if NONE of your teams had won a championship since ’83. For me and the younger generation there are mostly fairy tales of the Broad Street Bullies, or Dr. J, or Michael Jack Schmidt which mean a lot to me but kind of seem like they are not mine. Since I can remember watching sports I have seen all four franchises get to the big dance – and lose. Seriously, what are the chances of that?? So what some may say is a hostile crowd of front runners who boo their most beloved players I will let you in on a little secret. That is pure passion coming through. We are so used to being let down by injury and chokes, yet we keep coming back and supporting with blind love. Frankly, it’s all we have left. So call a Philly fan a lot of things, but don’t call us bad fans. Or we will beat the shit out of you in the parking lot of the Linc. For real.
Onto the preview:
Donnie Mac vs. Big Ben
Wow, these guys are both off to a great start. Ben had a drop off in week 2 against the Browns, but that bastard Ike didn’t stop with Galveston and continued to devastate the over in the Sunday Night Matchup. Meanwhile, McOneHitAwayFromAnInjury has had two awesome games and looks to be his old self. With a nagging shoulder injury (don’t bother to ask ben about it though) and a legitimate opponent for the first time this year I give the edge to McNabb.
Big Red vs. Mr. T
These are two very interesting coaches. Reid is a proven winner (except for the big games) and Tomlin is a hot new talent in the league. If this was a sumo wrestling match I’d feel real confident with the Reidster. I will fully admit that I don’t know much about Coach Tomlin. What I do know is that he gets pumped on a great play and gets in someone’s face if they screw up – I can only dream of fat bastard doing such things.
(Did I Mention I wouldn’t trust this man alone in a room with a woman I cared about for 5 minutes??)
Dave Akers vs. Jeff Reed
Honestly, I only included this matchup so I could put a gay picture of Jeff Reed on the blog. Seriously, he gets wasted and takes his shirt off at the bar all of the time, google it. What a douchebag.
Advantage: David Akers
Cheese Steak vs. Pitts-Burger
Both are guaranteed to get you closer to a heart attack. Both taste really good. The drawback of the Pitts-Burger for me is that there is just too much shit going on. Fries and slaw are good but not jammed onto my sando. As a bonus you can get a delicious cheese steak at Pat’s 23 hours a day. I’ll take a wiz wit please.
Advantage: Philly Cheese Steak
With all of these important factors in mind, here is my game prediction. After a tough road loss to the best team in the league, the birds will be hungry for a win. The Steez will have their hands full in Philly dealing with a potent offense, a speedy defense, and possible D size batteries raining down from the upper levels of Lincoln Financial Field. Predictably, I like the birds in this one.
EAGLES 30 STEELERS 24
Friday, September 19, 2008
E-A-G- NO FUCKING SUPER BOWLS
First and foremost FUCK PHILLY. I hate Philly more than I hate anything. Their fans are obnoxious losers whose teams have never won anything but still act like their shit don’t stink. This year is always the year and after week 1 they are already proclaiming to win the Super Bowl when they aren’t even the class of their own division. And when they lose (it always happens) millions of excuses start pouring out of their mouths. Their players are always the best and the coolest when none of them have ever done anything that great. They think they’re the most knowledgeable fans around, which is not even close to being true, and outside of the city of brotherly love (gayest nickname ever) no one gives a shit about the Queergles. When they make the playoffs they’re happy and when Donovan chokes and/or pukes the fans still say, “well we still had a great year.” The only great year you can have is if you WIN. (Eagles = 0) On to the preview.
When the Steez have the ball:
The O definitely could have played better in Believeland but Bung’s separated/sprained/sore shoulder got the job done. He seemed to be in pain throughout the game but at the same time was heaving the ball 60+ yards and was pretty accurate. (Did anyone notice his hicky on PTI yesterday? Maybe that's why he played through the pain) I don’t believe his shoulder should be a real issue this week unless he takes a real good shot, which the Eagles defenders will try to take. The Eagles D loves to blitz and will do so very often. They will get to Bung a couple times and blow up a few runs in the backfield. I repeat they will have a few sacks and TFL’s (Tackle for Losses). It’s how a blitz D works. Do not get discouraged too quickly when this happens. If it’s a chronic problem all day we are in trouble but with the blitzing huge running holes can be created and it leaves secondary players on an island with wideouts and possibly a LB on Heath or Parker. I can only pray that Arians has waited until this week to show what Willie can do as a receiver because he could torch a LB one-on-one. The Eagles secondary has huge name players all through it but they got torched as a unit in Big D. Tony Blomo threw for 300+ and 3 TD’s.
When the bitches have the ball:
The Eagles O has looked outstanding this year. McFagg is playing as the old McFagg and Westbrook is a beast. The receivers are playing well except for DeSean Jackson being an idiot and not scoring last week. Does he think he’s Plax or what? They don’t have their top receivers in the lineup yet either. The Eagles O is annoying to watch its all little dink throws away from people. It works though. The D line and Silverback and Woody will be a huge factor in the game. The loss of Keisel is going to hurt, bad. The play of the threesome of Kirshke, Roye, and Eason will be crucial. Tackling will be the determining factor of the game. If we don’t miss tackles and get to the ball in flocks we could be in good shape. But if Westbrook and Co. are making people miss we could be in trouble. Also the secondary needs to keep everything in front of them and eliminate the big play. The Steez will be able to get to McNabb for sure, but if they can get him down is another story. He has lost some of his legs but he still can evade a rush and throw the ball downfield. Our D needs to flock to the football.
Our coverage teams have looked better but I’m still not convinced of how good they are yet and it seems their troubles have now moved to the return game. If we can field the ball and tackle we’ll be alright. Skippy looks solid and Berger had a 45.5 yard punting average in the swirlfest in
This is going to be a tough, good game. The big play and our defense will determine the outcome. The D will break at some point but hopefully it’ll bend way more. The O should get its rhythm back and do work. I look for the Steez to win 24-17.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
UPDATE: Scouts Inc. gives Big Ben some love. Finally.
Great offensive line analysis from JJ Cooper at fanhouse.
Love the frame-by- frame posts from Dagger. Caution: Could cause Kemo love…
I didn’t read this piece until after the Browns game, but found it all the more interesting since Ben appeared to have trouble hearing the plays from the helmet mic.
Some nice analysis (my favorite, for all the blitzing fans, is shown below) in this post. Who am I kidding? I’m just impressed with the use of the word hegemony.
* One more thought about LeBeau. I thought it was brilliant to play the 'bend-but-don't-break' card during the Browns only meaningful drive of the game in the fourth quarter. A quick strike could have changed everything, but LeBeau forced Derek Anderson to earn every last yard on that drive. To Anderson's credit, he did a great job for the first 70 yards. But when you have to conver four or five tough 3rd downs in a drive, eventually your luck's going to run out, and you'll be forced to settle for 3 after having taken gobs of time off the clock. Very wise in my opinion, even if we had plenty of success with a bit more aggressive of a philosophy for most of the game.
If you have an hour to kill at work, TMQ is the best. Probably the article I look forward to the most each week.
ESPN’s James Walker blogs each week about the AFC North Division.
The Brett Keisel news varies, but here is PFT’s take.
I love stats. Maybe explains why I’m a banker. This discusses some of Willie’s runs. It doesn’t mention that Kemo and Heath Miller were also pulling on nearly half the plays.
The Rooney’s are still weighing offers from Dan and Druck. I know it’s blasphemy, but does anyone else think that having a multi-billionaire owner, with roots in Pittsburgh, who wants the Rooney family to continue running the franchise is such a bad thing?
SteezBros is now listed on the Post Gazette – Blog ‘N’ Gold website. It’s half way down on the left.
From Steelers Fury Monday review. I’m with you.
Thanks for reading. Come back on Thursday and Friday for two guest blogs. One from a Steeler fan living in Philly. Another from a Philly fan, with a different look at Sunday’s game.
Brett Keisel’s calf injury could be a very devasting injury to the Steelers’ D. Initial reports were he was out for “up to two months” but I’ve seen it could only be one month. But either way it is going to hurt. Travis Kirshke will start in his place and Nick Eason should see some time as well. Nick Eason played well in Week 1 but he’s not the same caliber player as Keisel. If there was one are of our team where depth was an issue and an injury would be devastating it was our D line. Keisel was an integral part of our pass rush, he lead the team in hurries last year I believe. If Keisel returns before he’s completely healthy he could hurt the team as well. Coming off the line one of the most important facets of his game is his explosiveness and his push off the line. If his calf isn’t healed he will lose a significant amount of power and quickness. Keisel is a quietly solid player and the D will surely miss his absence.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
After the Browns game, Big Ben had a very strange interview with Andrea Kramer.
Ben clearly avoided answering any of the 4 questions Andrea asked him about his injured shoulder. All week we heard that Ben had a sore shoulder that wouldn't limit him for the game. Curiously, during the game, one of the announcers throws out there that Ben had a partially separated shoulder. There was no mention of this all week from any sources. Tomlin said after the game he was not aware of the separation, saying the media knew more than he did. Now comes this article, where Tomlin denies that the shoulder was separated.
Does this sound familiar to anyone else? Remember back to 2005, after the Steelers lost to the Patriots in the AFC championship game? (I know it seems like a long time ago because most of us have blocked it from our memory) After the game, Ben told reporters that he had been playing with two broken toes. Then it got interesting when Coach Chin told the press that Ben was exaggerating about the broken toes, "We are unaware of any problems with his toes, OK?" Cowher said. Why would Ben exaggerate about an injury? If he did it before, it begs the question, would he or has he done it again? Why do it all? Maybe he did it after the AFC championship game to have an excuse for his poor play. This week he was doing it after a game where he played well. Here, it makes him seem more heroic. He overcame the injury and still led the team to victory.
Anyone that watches the Steez, knows that Ben seemingly gets banged up every game. He always seems hurt. I am starting to think that maybe he has never actually been injured. Maybe it's all a rouse. We all saw his knee bend backward in San Diego, didn't we? We all were glued to our television sets for days when news of the motorcylce accidnet broke. I have news people. The motorcycle accident was staged, just like the moon landing. Ben was feeling unappreciated by the city of Pittsburgh after an incredible rookie year, followed by winning the Super Bowl. He decided to give us a little taste of what it would be like if he weren't around anymore by setting up a life threatening motorcycle accident. And then, just when everyone thought he was fine, thought we had dodged a major bullet, Ben faked a burst appendix sending Steeler nation plunging back into the depths of despair, without Big Ben to come back and save us again. Ben knew our thoughts would drift to QB's of yesteryear: Neil, Bubby, Kent Grahm, Kordell and Tommy Gun. We would pine for him, the wunderkind, the one who saved us from quarterback hell and led us to the promised land. Well, Ben, it worked. We went 8-8, did not make the playoffs and did not defend our crown. Even though you played, we knew it wasn't the real you. Everyone wished for the Roethlisberger of old. When Ben came back with a vengeance last year, the city was his. He tore us down and he built us back up.But then Peter King ranked him as the 18th best QB in the league. Once again Ben felt dissed. What could he do to restore his status as a top QB? How about digging into the old bag of tricks? Embellish an injury so that everyone can see how gutsy and awesome he is by overcoming a serious injury to not only play, but play well and lead the team to victory once again. But alas, his own coach has once again thwarted his chicanery by throwing the BS flag. Another wacky page to the Big Ben saga.
So has Ben ever really been hurt? I am pretty sure he has, but for the most part it is never as bad as it seems with Ben. Except for that little run in with the Chrysler.
UPDATE: Profootballtalk.com is reporting that Ben was the source of the NBC in game report saying his shoulder was separated.
Monday, September 15, 2008
The wind and rain caused by Hurricane Ike played a big role, so it is difficult to make broad assessments about the game. But, there were still important takeaways:
Forcing turnovers – The Steelers defense forced two turnovers, with Troy Polamalu’s interception at the end of the first half especially important. I’ll repeat this frequently throughout the year, but the number of big plays by our defense will determine the outcome of the Steelers’ season.
Defensive line play – Big Snack continues to be a beast. Offensive and defensive line play is often overlooked, but Big Snack’s ability to push the opposing offensive line into the backfield is noticeable even to novices.
Special teams coverage – Yes, Joshua Cribbs was coming off of a high ankle sprain. Yes, the field was wet. But, the special teams coverage still looked good. The lanes weren’t there and, for the most part, players finished plays. I still get worried before every kickoff and punt, but Keyaron Fox, Anthony Madison, Donovan Woods, along with several starters, are helping to calm my nerves.
Jeff Reed – Ok, I admit it. I’m a Jeff Reed-hater. After the last couple years, I shouldn’t be, but I still am. The various drunken pictures of him don’t help. But, hitting that 48 yarder in bad conditions, pure genius. Get that man a beer.
Bryant McFadden – He did a good job at starting cornerback, where he matched up with Braylon Edwards quite a few times. Maybe someday he’ll beat out Deshea for that starting spot. Oh wait, he’ll be a free agent next year.
O-line play – They were far from perfect in this game. They let up three sacks and Shaun Rogers made some plays. But after watching the game last night, they are better than I originally thought. They created holes for Parker, despite 8 man fronts. Kemo is a beast pulling from the left guard position. They gave Ben time to throw. A great example was the pass protection on the 32 yard pass to Hines Ward from our own end-zone. And in the last series when the Browns knew we were going to run the ball, the o-line created enough holes to get a first down and ice the game. If this unit continues to improve, the offense could be scary good.
Aggressive play calling – Two great examples:
#1. Going for it on 4th and 1. The team was on the Cleveland 40 with the game tied at 0. At this point in the game, it was obvious that points would be at a premium. Instead of playing the field position game, Tomlin made an aggressive call to go for it on 4th down. It showed confidence in the O-line that we could gain one yard on a running played. It showed confidence in the defense, in case we didn’t. But most importantly, Tomlin was trying to win the game, not trying to prevent a loss. The result, Parker gets a first down leading to the only touchdown of the game.
#2. Play action pass with 3:16 left in the 4th quarter. How many times have we seen the Steelers run it three straight times to run out the clock, inevitably leaving the opposing team with plenty of time to score? This time, Arians called a run on first down, but came back with play action on second down. Another call made to win the game, not prevent a loss. The play action was a great call in that situation. Cleveland probably expected run to force them to use timeouts. The Steelers needed a first down to close the deal. By calling the pass on second-down, as opposed to third-down, Cleveland was caught off guard. Big Ben had great pass protection, and found Heath Miller down the middle for the first down. This showed a killer instinct that last year’s team lacked.
No pressure – Derek Anderson had all day to throw. The defensive game plan was not one designed to get pressure, but rather to drop into coverage and let Anderson make some mistakes, which he did. But, there was no pressure all day, meaning our linebackers and defensive line did not win one-on-one battles. The defense didn’t let up a touchdown and held the Browns to six points, so they executed well, but let’s hope the pressure exhibited in week 1 against the Texans can be repeated in the future.
Return game – The Steelers returners had an especially tough night catching the ball. Mewelde Moore can be excused for avoiding punts, because I prefer letting the ball bounce to muffing a punt. But, Mendenhall and Davis can’t make the mistake of letting a kick off bounce around. It’s like they didn’t even know that ball was live. If Woodley doesn’t make a great play, I'd probably be writing about a heart-breaking loss.
Going out of bounds – When Willie Parker got the final first down of the game, he beat the Browns defenders outside to get past the sticks. Unfortunately, he forgot to turn it back up field and ran out of bounds instead. If Willie slides down in bounds, the Steelers take a knee three times. Game over. Instead, we were forced to run four additional plays and give the ball back to the Browns. Sure, this is nit-picky. The first down essentially won the game. But if Parker was a little bit more savvy, we aren’t exposed to the chance of a late fumble or miracle play. I hope Tomlin reminds him of that during the week.
Third and short, shotgun formation – This is a pet peeve of mine. I hate the shotgun formation on 3rd and short. In the first quarter on third and 2, we are in the shotgun. Result: sack. In the second quarter, third and one, we are in the shotgun. Result: draw play for no gain. Can’t Big Ben get under center and hand it off for a two yard gain?
Romeo Crennel’s game management –The end of the first half was bad. The decision to kick a field goal in the 4th quarter was worse. By kicking the field goal, Cleveland needed to get the ball back and drive the length of the field for a touchdown. Something it failed to do all game. If they go for it and don't convert on 4th down, they still have to get the ball back and score a touchdown. In either situation, it needs a TD . But by kicking a field goal, you take the risk of not ever getting the ball back. So if you need a touchdown either way, take the chance on 4th down, where a conversion will put you in great position to score.
How bad is Big Ben’s shoulder? He refused to answer questions about it with Andrea Kramer after the game. Is he having fun with the media or is it more serious than I thought?
This was an important game, not a time to provide experience. So I understand why there was no sight of Mendenhall in the Steelers backfield. Willie did a great job and Mendenhall is a fumbling risk. But, I hope Arians and the team will lighten the load on Willie. He had 25 carries in week one and 28 carries in week two. That’s a 424-carry pace. We need Willie fresh late in the season, so I’m hoping Mendenhall proves to the coaches he is ready for a bigger load in the near future.
Bruce Arians – please put a couple throws to running backs in the game plan. I beg you.
Random thought on the tip play between Troy and Kellen Winslow. After the tip, if Troy tackles Winslow, which is legal, then Winslow can’t make the play. Instead, it was a jump ball.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Notes from week 1:
It feels absolutely great to have football back. It was hell without football, even with the ‘Guins quest for Lord Stanley and the Olympics can you possibly imagine the offseason without either of these or March Madness? Killing the Texans was fun but let’s keep our heads level here. Act like you’ve been here before, this isn’t Filthadelphia. We actually have won before. This is only week one and one win of the season-it’ll take about nine more just to make the playoffs. Another three or four from there is what we are looking for(One for the other thumb). Tomlin’s reaction after the missed 4th and 1 on the Texans’ first drive was the second greatest reaction I’ve seen since Bungy was gunslinging in Denver in the AFC Championship game with Phelps in the 4 x 100 easily beating Mikey out (and Ben, too).
The main theme of week one was injuries, Tom “I am infinitely better than everyone on the planet” Brady easily being the biggest. Although this is a huge setback for the Pats, don’t count them out just yet. Even with the Bills and the Bretts looking good and decent, respectively, the East is still the Pats to lose. I am surprised that Brady was put on IR so quickly, I thought they would have left a roster spot open so when his knee was miraculously healed five months early he could play in the playoffs.
But anyway, enough ranting and on to the Shits. With many projecting the Browns to be the North champions, and the Indians being out of it for a while, “Believeland” was in full force behind the Brownies. They looked just like Brownies (Girl Scouts or pastries) against the ‘Boys. Bron Bron was seen on the
When the Steelers have the ball:
Once again the Steez play another weak defensive team, both from last year and last week. Last season the Browns let up 23.9 points per game and had the 30th overall defense. Last week they let up huge numbers to the Cowboys and it was never actually a game. Romo and the ‘Boys torched them. This week the Steelers should have similar success against a poor Browns D if Bung’s shoulder is not hurt. He said that he sat out practice on Wednesday as a precaution and its fine. The addition of Shaun Rogers helped but the loss of Antwan Peek didn’t exactly help. Look for the Steelers to give Hartwig (GIANT upgrade from Mahan) from one of the guard positions. Hartwig has played and did well against
When the Browns have the ball:
The Steez D surprised me last week playing as well as they did. I expected them to be good just not as good as they played. I think that there is more to come this week. Silverback (
Josh Cribbs has killed the Steelers many times in the return game and if he’s healthy look out. I know that the special teams did an awesome job last week, but does that erase years of sucking? I am not completely convinced of our kick coverage yet.
I love me some offensive line analysis.
Love the Barry Foster shout out. Read to the end.
Nice summary from Gerry Dulac.
Feeling confused about the Tom Brady injury? Swissvale 72 says it’s ok to root for injuries.
Post game stats from PGH.
A dominating week one win means nothing.
I love Steeler girls.
Steelers have the best fans in the entire NFL.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Yes, we did re-sign Farrior and trade Mahan. But, if you thought the re-shuffling of the offensive line this year was bad, just wait until next year. Marvel Smith and Chris Kemoeatu will be unrestricted free agents. Ditto Max Starks and Trai Essex. Willie Colon will be a restricted free agent. That’s 60% of our starting offensive line and half of our backups. The left side, Smith and Kemo, are the best players we have on our line (this may be a premature evaluation of Kemo, but if he is worse than Simmons and Colon we might as well abandon the season). If the Steelers believed in Kemo’s ability, he likely could have been signed to a cheap long-term contract because he doesn’t have much starting experience. Not signing him puts the team in a tough spot. If Kemo and Smith play well this year, they hit the free agent market and will demand big contracts. Success this year means more reshuffling next year.
Starks and Essex aren’t superstars, but they are reliable back ups. Starks has starting potential, but despite his whopping $7 million contract, hasn’t been given an opportunity to win his right tackle spot back from Willie Colon. There has been speculation that the Steelers wanted to keep him as insurance to Marvel Smith’s aching back, but surely we could have found a decent backup for less than $7 million per year. Maybe by sitting him on the bench all year, we can re-sign him at a discount rate this off season.
Since Colon is a RFA and a sub-par right tackle, I’m not overly concerned with him hitting the market. We’ll slap down a tender offer and no team in its right mind will give up draft picks to sign Colon.
In summary, that probably leaves us with Hartwig (unproven), Simmons (terrible and expensive), and Colon (bad, but with upside) with the team next year. The left side of the line remains a question mark. Maybe we sign an aging Smith or Starks to play LT. Maybe we re-sign Kemo to play right guard. Two big maybes for the best players on our line. The remaining backups left on the team are Tony Hills and Darnell Stapleton, and Jeremy Parquet from the practice squad. Certainly doesn’t feel like Tomlin and Colbert have a great long-term plan here.
It’s difficult to estimate salary cap information for next year, so I don’t know how much the Steelers will have to spend going into the offseason. But, everyone knows the Steelers aren’t going to make a big splash in the free agent market. Bryant McFadden, Nate Washington, and Charlie Batch will also be free agents. They aren’t superstars, but the Steelers will need to fill plenty of holes in the depth chart. Colbert will have plenty of work to do when this season ends.
Monday, September 8, 2008
After a wild first week filled with injuries (galore) and upsets, one thing is clear: we are in for one hell of a ride this season. Wherever you went to get your football fix this offseason and preseason, you undoubtedly heard that the Steelers had the toughest schedule in the league. And on paper that sure seemed to be the case. The Steez drew the NFC East (the defending Super Bowl Champs, Philly, Big D and the 'Skins)-possibly the toughest division in football, the AFC South, equally as tough with Indy, Jax, Ten and Houston. To top it off they added San Diego and New England to the mix. Not to mention a division that contains Cleveland, everyone's flavor of the year to win the AFC North. Things sure change in a hurry.
Easily the biggest story of Week 1 was the loss of Tom Brady for the season with a torn ACL. Their backup QB, Matt Cassell, has not started a game since high school. New England has thrived on being able to plug players into the lineup when starters have been lost to injury and not miss a beat. I don't think that is going to be the case here. Some players can't be replaced. Tom Brady is one of those players. It showed in their victory against KC. The loss of Brady makes the Steez schedule easier period.
The Chargers, a popular pick to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl, couldn't hold on to a late lead, allowing Carolina to drive down the field and score a last second touchdown to win the game even without "Swingin" Steve Smith, who was suspended for beating the crap out of his teamate at pratice. To make things worse, SD star linebacker, Shawn "I may be the dumbest man alive" Merriman is playing on what not one, not two, but three doctors have told him is a career threatening knee injury and could go down at any moment. Suddenly, they aren't looking as formidable as once thought. Schedule strengthbeginning to look a little less daunting.
Jacksonville couldn't beat Ten who lost Vince Young to injury. But Ten looked tougher than expected so we will call that a wash for stength of schedule.
Indy looked out of synch. P. Manning playing for the first time after offseason knee surgery. Addai and Dallas Clark got injured. The injury bug or should I say plague is hitting early and often this year and no one seems to be exempt. Their D did not impress me at all. Against the Bears, who have Kyle Orton as their QB mind you, they gave up a big rushing day to rookie Matt Forte. That should not have occurred. we have another Steeler opponent appearing weaker than anticipated. I do think the Colts improve as Peyton gets his reps.
The rest of our division just looked bad. I do expect Cleveland to give us a better game than they gave Dallas next week but Cin was terrible and Balt won ugly.
Needless to say, it is super early but things are looking up, especially the Steelers expectations for this season.
UPDATE: Merriman is done for the year. Apparently steroids could not fix two torn ligaments in his knee and also Post gazette and wpxi are reporting Bungy has a hurt should but is expected to play Sun night against the Shits. He will be limited in practice tomorrow
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Here are some quick hit thoughts about the opening game:
- Say what you want about Mike Tomlin (I’m still a doubter), but he is definitely the biggest bad ass head coach in the NFL
- After a couple early completions, the Steelers defense clamped down and dominated the Texans. I entered the season with BIG doubts about our defense. Troy has been overrated the last two years and the turnovers and sacks were definitely lacking. But, Lamarr Woodley showed that there is reason to believe that Blitzburgh is back. Woodley and Harrison harassed Schaub all day. Aaron Smith and Big Snack showed that the running game should be removed from Steelers opponents’ game plans. The Steelers forced three turnovers and had five sacks. This must continue all year. We’re only a legitimate threat to win it all if our D makes big plays.
- Tough day for Duane Brown. Maybe he’ll feel better that Marvel let allowed a couple sacks from Super Mario.
- Despite the big lead at halftime, the O-line didn’t show me much in the running game. Parker had a couple of big runs, but there weren’t many holes. Then again, I think the majority of runs were to the right behind Simmons and Colon, the worst starters on the team. I’ll be interested to see the o-line reports from postgameheroes and AOL Fanhouse.
- I felt much better after the first drive of the second half. A 10-play, 71 yard drive that featured 9 runs.
- Man crush, Hines Ward
When the Steelers have the ball:
I look for the Steez to march up and down the field on a shaky Houston D. The Texans were 19th against the run last year and 25th against the pass for a 24th overall ranking in defense. Look for Bungy to throw the ball all over the place to
When the Texans have the ball:
The Texans could have an explosive offense this year with Schaub slingin’ the ball around to Andre Johnson, a huge deep ball threat, Kevin Walter, led the team in receptions, and TE Owen Daniels. If the old Polamalu isn’t back and last year’s Polamalu is still hangin’ around Daniels could reek some real havoc in the game. Foote, Timmons, and Woody aren’t the greatest in pass coverage and if Polamalu can’t stop Daniels, he could put up a couple scores. The run D should have a good day with the Texans having a banged up O line and an aging Ahman Green running the football. The Big Snack of old should show up and Woody and Silverback (
Always a weakness for the Men of Steel is special teams. Andre Davis is for real and will probably bust at least one big return. This is the Achilles heel of our team. We really need to step up our special teams play if we want to be an actual contender. Mitch Berger will hopefully adequately fill Daniel “I kill people” Sepulveda shoes. He is a 13 year veteran and should be alright. Skippy has been completely solid the past couple years and looks like he will continue kicking well and hitting on anything that walks. Mendenhall will be returning kicks and could be dangerous as long as he holds on to the ball.
I see the Steez winning by 13-17 points. They’re gonna move the ball and limit the Texans Offense but will probably let up a score or two and a couple field goals.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
-The only major departure in my mind is Alan Faneca. Faneca was our best Offensive Lineman until last year when I thought he mailed in the season along with the rest of the O line. If we lost the Faneca of old I would be extremely worried. We lost the Faneca who was pissed at the team all of last year failing to give 100%. I am a little worried about the loss but not as much as a lot of people. More on this in the O line section.
-On the plus side, or as some may call it addition by subtraction, much maligned center, Sean Mahan has been traded back to Tampa Bay for a 7th round draft choice instantly improving the offensive line. Mahan was awful all of last year which is extremely rare for the Steelers at Center.
-Justin Hartwig was brought in to be the savior at center after last year's debacle named Sean Mahan. It was clear from the beginning Hartwig would win the job and I believe it was a competition in name only.
-Rashard Mendenhall was the # 1 draft pick this year instantly exciting Steeler fans everywhere with the prospect of a new "Jerome Betis". He should be a great 1-2 punch with fast Willie. He has shown promise in the preseason although he did fumble twice in a preseason game. He is a rook
-Limas Sweed. Ask and you shall receive. Ben had made some comments requesting a tall receiver. One fell into the Steez lap when Sweed was still there late in the 2nd round. I had high hopes for him when we drafted him but I began to question how good he can be when it was revealed he needed contacts for poor vision and did not even realize it till the coaches discovered it. How can you not realize you can't see? I didn't really see that much out of him in the preseason games but preseason is preseason and I think he will be a nice addition for Ben.
-Mewelde Moore. A few years back he was a late season fantasy stud for the Vikes. Brought in to be the third down back and return kicks. If the Steelers actually commit to throwing to our running backs, I would be extremely excited especially since we have speedsters. I think he will be a solid contributor.
O line issues and front office decisions
-Probably the biggest question mark on the team this year. The loss of Faneca will hurt. The pundits have said that Kemoeatu is not much of a replacement since he hasn't played much in the 4 years since we drafted him. That is because he was Faneca's backup, a perennial all-pro who never missed time. I am predicting he will have a nice season and will be better than Faneca's no-show last year. Most reports say he is tenacious at the point of attack. Let's hope that is the case. Clearly the right side of our O line is the weakest. Simmons is awful. Colon is not much better. 7 million dollar man, Starks can't even crack the starting lineup. Curiously, he was solid as a backup at left tackle last season to Marvel Smith. Maybe the Steelers should keep him at backup to left tackle and groom him to replace Marvel who's contract is quickly expiring. Still paying him $7 million is ludicrous. We could have paid a little bit more and kept Faneca. Now we are paying it to a man who can't even start on the right side of a line that is weak. This has to be one of the most questionable decisions the Steelers front office has made in a while. Ah, except for maybe the Sean Mahan signing.
-Run blocking was not a huge issue last year as Willie was the leading rusher in the league until he broke his leg. Pass blocking was another story. Big Ben has been sacked the most in the league the last two years. That needs to change this year especially with Santonio Holmes turning into one of the best deep threats in the league. I think it definetely will improve this year. Smith is back. Kemo will be good. Hartwig will be an improvement over Mahan. If Simmons can just try not to suck horribly and Colon can improve a little, I won't be too worried. Still worried but not too worried.
-Once again, special teams is an area that needs improvement and an area for concern. Punter Daniel Sepulveda is out for the year with a torn ACL. Mitch Berger beat out Paul Ernster for the job and had a nice average during the preseason. Coverage seemingly improved over the course of the preseason but time will tell on this one. I don't understand why it is so difficult for this team to cover kicks but it is.
-Jeff Reed is quietly becoming a very reliable kicker. He had a great year last year and continued his consitency in the exhibition games this year. His kickoff depth has also been improved, most likely due to his enormous thighs. If he kicked you, you would die.
-The return game is an issue yet again. The Steelers had no less than five return men in camp. Jeremy Bloom, Eddie Drummond, Willie Reid, Mewelde Moore and Santonio Holmes. No one clearly seperated themselves from anyone else, freeing the Steelers to release Drummond, Reid and Bloom. Hopefully someone can provide a spark. Again, I am baffled at how we can't find a serviceable return person. Pacman Jones can catch a punt while holding five other balls and we can't find someone to run straight ahead.
-O line will be the weakest link in the offense this year. You are only as strong as your weakest link. How they play will determine alot. However, Ben was sacked almost 50 times last year yet was the 2nd highest rated passer in the league throwing 32 touchdowns and only 11 ints. I agree with coach Tomlin that protection of the QB is an entire team concept and I think Ben holds on to the ball too long sometimes. He needs to get rid of it more often and the team as a whole needs to protect better. Our running game should once again be a force with Fast Willie and Rashard as a formidable one-two punch and with Mewelde coming in on third downs and catching the ball out of the backfield.
-Receivers and TE look to be a strength with Santonio Holmes emerging as a quality deep threat. He led the legue in average yards per catch last season. Heath Miller continues to be a sweet option for Ben over the middle, if only he would use him more. Hines Ward continues to be the heart of the team and a beast on the field. I fully expect him to have another productive season but I look for Santonio to emerge as the # 1 guy with Hines as our go to third down guy. Nate Washington has shown improvement but I hope Sweed moves into the third spot before this year is over. Opposing D's will have to pick their poison once that occurs.
-Playcalling is another worry, especially after some questionable calls in the playoff loss to the Jags. I hope to see a lot of passes to the RB's out of the backfield to neutralize some of the pressure that Ben has faced. I don't expect us to go pass wacky but do expect alot of down field throwing which hopefully will open up the middle for Heath and Hines to roam and also backs coming out of the backfield underneath.
Overall I see our Offense being very productive this season. They are stacked with weapons and opposing D coordinators will have many late nights trying to figure out who to stop. I see them ave. between 26-28 points per game.
-After a collapse at the end of last year, there is concern about that the D is beginning to show its age and is wearing down at the end of the season. The D line depth is one major area of concern. Aarron Smith is probably the most underrated player and one of the most if not the most valuable on the D. Part of the letdown last year can be blamed on his absence due to injury. If the D line can stay healthy they are the best in the league. But age is a factor and there is a considerable drop off in quality with the backups. O. Roye was brought in for a second stint with the Steez to provide some depth. Kirschke and Hoke are both better the average backups. Casey Hampton is always rock solid at the nose and will be blowing up plays all over the place again this season. Keisel had a ton of pressures but needs to be more consistent and get more sacks. If this D doesn't get pressure and sacks we get killed.
-Nice to see Lawrence Timmons making large strides and pushing Larry Foote for the starting spot. I love Foote and he is one of our best run stoppers. Whoever is in there will be great. Farrior seems to be ageless and is primed for another great season. We really need Lamarr Woodley to step it up and provide some serious pressure on opposing QB's to be effective defensively this season. James Harrison is crazy and will have another crazy season.
-Another surprise was the letdown the absebce of safety Ryan Clark caused. Anthony Smith was a disaster back there and Clark's return has been welcome. I never thought I would have missed him but we did and his return should help restore order to the defensive backfield. Once again, the health of Troy is making everyone anxious. Can he play a full season? Probably not. Mostly because he can't tackle correctly and just flings his entire body at whoever has the ball which takes a toll on him. Hopefully he can play most of the season. I would love to see him stay back a little more this year and play like a safety should and not around the line of scrimmage so much.
-Another constant battle has been between Bryant McFadden and Deshea Townsend. Seemingly every year is the year McFadden will beat out Deshea for the starting job, yet he never does. I really believe Deshea is too slow to be a starting corner and gives way too much cushion. I think McFadden deserves his shot to start and thought he looked good in the preseason games. I think we will see him alot more this year. Ike Taylor should have another solid year. If he could catch he would be amazing. He drops more ints than anyone ever.
I think the D will be solid. Sack totals need to go up and I think they will. I see turnovers created increasing as well and another stellar year for the D. They will have to be with the schedule we face.
-the schedule seems to be the toughest in the league but that remains to be seen. You never know how it will actually play out. The good news is that the rest of the AFC North plays a very similar schedule. The good news is that come the end of the season and the post-season we will be very battle tested and prepared for the next round of competition like no other team in the NFL.
-I really think we have a strong squad this year. With the schedule I can see us being anywhere from 8 wins to 11 wins. I think we win the division no doubt. 8 wins could win our division this year. Once into the playoffs, our schedule will have prepared us for what is to come. I wouldn't count us out for a Championship game appearance and who knows what could happen after that.
Prediction 10-6 AFC North Champs.