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!


Monday, November 24, 2008

Ernster Cut, Berger Back

The Paul Ernster cut watch is over. The Steelers have re-signed Mitch Berger and parted ways with Ernster. We went from one punter who could only kick it 30 yards to a punter that has two bad hamstrings. Also check out some facts you may not have known about our D-Coordinator, Dick LeBeau, courtesy of Peter King:

1. His 171 consecutive starts at cornerback for the Detroit Lions between 1959 and 1972 is an NFL record.

2. He played pickup basketball at Ohio State with Bobby Knight, who has called LeBeau one of the 10 finest athletes he has encountered in his life.

3. He served as a stunt double for Michael Caine in a 1970 war movie called Too Late The Hero.

4. He calls his 95-year-old mother, Beulah LeBeau, in London, Ohio, every day.

5. He had holes-in-one seven days apart.

Tendencies on 3rd and short

One of my biggest pet peeves about this Steelers offense is it's tendency to be in the shotgun on third and short. Blitzburgh, at Behind the Steel Curtain, analyzed the Steelers tendencies on 3rd and short. His post is so good I copied it below:

I had to investigate the Pittsburgh Steelers tendencies on 3rd and short yardage situations. It seemed to me that we threw the ball ALL the time on 3rd and short, but I wasn't entirely positive. So it was a bit tedious, but I went through the play-by-plays of every game this season and charted what we did each time we faced a 3rd down with 2-4 yards to go. Why did I selected 2-4 yards? Well, I thought it was the appropriate range. Even the most passy happy teams run on 3rd and 1 first of all. And while I think an occassional run should be sprinkled in on 3rd and 5-6 type situations, I think we all generally agree that that's a passing down.

But in the 2-4 yard range, we're basically just needing to get our very modest season average of about 3.5 yards per carry to get a new fresh set of downs. I tried to summarize all the data both in the headers and in a table below so no need to make any sort of calculations for yourself. I did that, and when you see what Bruce Arians has been up to on 3rd and short this year, you may just grow some even stronger opinions about the way our offense has been managed in certain regards and at certain times this year.

WEEK 1 (1 run, 3 passes):
3-4-HOU46(9:09) (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger scrambles right end pushed ob at HST 29 for 17 yards (Z.Diles).

3-3-HOU22(7:10) (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger pass short middle to S.Holmes to HST 13 for 9 yards (J.Reeves).

3-2-PIT39(3:07) B.Roethlisberger sacked at PIT 27 for -12 yards (M.Williams).

3-2-PIT28(6:15) W.Parker right tackle to PIT 32 for 4 yards (CC.Brown, Z.Diles).

WEEK 2 (0 runs, 3 passes)
3-4-PIT25(12:04) (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger pass short right to S.Holmes pushed ob at PIT 41 for 16 yards (E.Wright) [M.Adams].

3-2-PIT49(10:18) B.Roethlisberger sacked at PIT 40 for -9 yards (sack split by C.Williams and N.Sorensen).

3-4-CLE30(8:11) (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger pass incomplete short left to S.Holmes (E.Wright) [S.Rogers].

WEEK 3 (0 runs, 4 passes)
3-4-PHI45(6:38) (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger pass short left to H.Ward to PHI 39 for 6 yards (L.Sheppard).

3-4-PIT39(7:49) (Shotgun) PENALTY on PHI-M.Patterson, Defensive Delay of Game, 5 yards, enforced at PIT 39 - No Play. (Shotgun = about to pass)

3-3-PHI49(6:00) (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger sacked at PIT 45 for -6 yards (J.Parker). FUMBLES (J.Parker) [J.Parker], RECOVERED by PHI-B.Bunkley at PIT 45. B.Bunkley to PIT 45 for no gain (H.Miller).

3-2-PHI13(1:08) (Shotgun) B.Leftwich sacked at PHI 22 for -9 yards (sack split by D.Howard and D.Klecko).

WEEK 4 (0 runs, 3 passes)
3-2-BAL47(10:24) B.Roethlisberger pass short middle to N.Washington to BLT 35 for 12 yards (C.Ivy).

3-4-BAL38(4:17) (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger pass short middle to S.Holmes for 38 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

3-3-PIT37(2:51) (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger pass short left to M.Moore to PIT 43 for 6 yards (B.Scott).

WEEK 5 (0 runs, 2 passes)
3-3-JAC20(12:49) (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger pass incomplete deep right to M.Moore.

3-3-PIT43(4:40) (Shotgun) B.Roethlisberger pass short left to N.Washington to JAX 45 for 12 yards (B.Williams). PENALTY on PIT-N.Washington, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, enforced between downs.

WEEK 7 (1 run, 2 passes)
3-3-CIN3(:51) B.Roethlisberger pass incomplete short right to H.Miller.

3-2-CIN44(10:02) B.Roethlisberger pass short right to M.Moore to CIN 44 for no gain (J.Joseph). FUMBLES (J.Joseph), ball out of bounds at CIN 45.

3-3-CIN13(8:36) M.Moore left end for 13 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

To continue reading, click here.

Peter King: Give the ball to Gary Russell

Peter King, at CNNSI.com is demanding that Gary Russell gets the damn ball. In his Monday Morning QB column, King mentioned Russell, the current short-yardage back, twice. Here is what he wrote:

5. Pittsburgh (8-3). The only thing that can stop this team is its running game. Or lack thereof. If I'm Mike Tomlin, I'm giving Gary Russell some important carries Sunday in Foxboro. What a month the Steelers have coming up: at Patriots, home vs. Cowboys, at Ravens and Titans. They'll never make it with the kind of running game we saw Thursday night.

I think this is what I didn't like about Week 12:
Willie Parker looks like he's running scared. He ran tentatively against those mighty Bengals, tiptoed into holes and actually shied away from a big hit against Rashad Jeanty. A worrisome display for the Steelers, who should be playing feisty backup Gary Russell. Parker's dancing first-half runs Thursday night: 1, 0, 1, 4, minus-2, 1, 0, 6, 3, 1, minus-1. He's obviously favoring his bum shoulder and hamstring.

With Parker's injuries, I can't say that I disagree with King, but I think the offense should have some sort of rotation between Parker, Moore, and Russell. If Willie is healthy, he should get the bulk of the carries. But, if he continues to dance into the holes, Moore and Russell are capable of being productive players. I'd like to see Russell in some I-formation looks with McHugh as full back (not happening in an Arians offense) and Mewelde Moore in the spread looks. Let's just give Willie a light load until he heals.

And the Paul Ernster cut watch continues:
Paul Ernster should have been cut at halftime. Steelers would have been wiser to use James Harrison, that prize special-teamer, as the punter Thursday.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ocho Cinco Deactivated

Chad Ocho Cinco has been deactivated for the game tonight according to ESPN. This is going to significantly hamper the small amount of momentum the Bengals were riding coming off the tie of the Eagles (at 1-8-1 any non-loss is great). The cold weather and flurries should help the 1-1-1 Steelers D. That is #1 overall, against the run, and against the pass. The Steelers are going to stop Benson and try to make Fitzpatrick and his perfec t Wonderlic Test beat them. I'll take Troy and Co. Troy has been a beast again this season. Also Silverback and Woody should have a big night due to injuries on the Cincy O Line. The only thing our D is missing is turnovers. We do not have enough of them although we did have a couple last week. Maybe this can be the game that our Offense finally finds a rhythm. Heath should play after missing a couple games from a high ankle sprain. This is a lingering injury and don't expect him to be 100 percent, but he is a premier tight end. Bruce Arians and Larry Zierlein need to be fired. There is no excuse that our offense is not in the top 10 in the league. Arians is getting a little better and we need to execute better but these assistant coaches stink. The Steeelers should win easy tonight, maybe not as big as last time but I say 27-6 Pittsburgh

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Run to the left

I was sifting through some data at Football Outsiders and took a look at the offensive line statistics . The methodology seems quite complex and there are certainly items during a football game that cannot be quantified, but the stats paint a picture of the effectiveness of the guys in the trenches.

Unsurprisingly, the Steelers offensive line ranks 24th in run blocking and 30th in pass blocking. The O-line might be slightly better if the team wasn't without its best running back for most of the season and didn't have a quarterback that holds onto the ball too long. That said, these rankings are pretty consistent with what I've seen watching the games. One of the categories FO uses to rank O-lines is called "Stuffed." It's basically the number of run plays that go for negative yards or don't gain a first down on a 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) and short. (This is very simplified. Go to the site for exact calculation.) The Steelers are stuffed on 30% of its running plays, which is good for 31st in the league, ahead of only the Philadelphia Eagles.

The other statistic that interested me was the success of running plays by direction. When Pittsburgh runs left, it gains 5.65 adjusted yards to the left end (a run outside the tackles) and 4.77 yards to the left tackle. Both are in the top ten in the league. These figures are by far superior than running to the middle (3.91), to the right tackle (3.36), and right end (3.53). This is unsurprising. The Steez best run blockers are Max Starks and Kemo, who anchor the left side of the line. Kendall Simmons and Willie Colon are pretty terrible on the right side, where we struggle to run the ball. Darnell Stapleton is better than Simmons, but isn't a powerful run blocker. Among hard-core Steelers supporters, this is pretty much common knowledge. So based on these statistics, you would think the majority of carries would go left, behind the strength of the line. Well, you would be wrong. Right now, only 17% of carries are going left. 56% are going up the middle. 27% are going to the right.

Here is my attempt at reasoning why we run more to the right than to the left. Arians knows that the left side of the line is better. He knows that our opponent knows that our left side is better. Since the opponent knows, he should run to the right to surprise them. This seems to me to be Arians model of thinking. He would rather try to surprise than play to the teams strengths.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Replay Rules about to be changed

Per PFT and many other sources, changes are most likely coming to the NFL Replay System as a result of the last play in the Steelers-Chargers game Sunday. Anyone that saw the play was sure it was a touchdown. I still don't understand the ref's explanation for why it was called back. The change will allow the referee to return to the replay booth a second time if they still aren't sure about the call. As for the Steeer-Charger game, I think they should be allowed to retroactively change the score to what it would have been had the TD been allowed. (Full disclosure, I was affected in a handicapper league that uses spreads. I am sure there are a lot of gamblers that would appreciate a score change as well. Vegas would not.) In this instance, it was the last play of the game, the outcome was not affected, why not get it right whenever possible. Earlier in the season we had a botched call that did effect the outcome in the SD-Denver game. Some may argue that you would need to go back and change that score as well. However, you could not go back and change the score for that game. That play happened with some time left and plays happened afterward that still could have won the game for either team.

Look for these changes to take effect for the playoffs.


It's official. I always knew it but McNabb is retarded. Not only was he dumb enough to not know the rules of the league but he was also stupid enough to tell the media he had no clue and then made the comment of "... I would love to see what happens in the Super Bowl or the post season." Really? No, honestly? Wow. This shows what the state of the Eagles is. Fat Bastard should have his players completely prepared for every situation and clearly he doesn't. But then he doesn't know his kids are heroin addicts either. This obviously would affect the way McNabb played in the extra period and maybe the Eagles would have gotten a much needed victory if he knew the rules. The sad part is that he was in the league for the last tie. If I were in the Eagles upper management I would be very upset that I am paying someone millions of dollars to control my team that doesn't even know the rules of the game. Pitiful.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Scouts Inc.: Steelers o-line is bad

This is the Scouts Inc. summary of Pittsburgh:

A Steelers offensive line that doesn't move well and isn't well-coached should be considered among the league's worst. Pass protectors too often are confused about their individual responsibilities, and this unit is insufficient in short-yardage situations -- two deficiencies that were on display Sunday. Moreover, C Justin Hartwig is a terrible shotgun snapper, which happens to be a huge part of Pittsburgh's offense. The Steelers no longer are winning because of their front five, but in spite of them.

Umm, I don't think you need to be an NFL scout to be make this observation.

Government to NFL: bail out the casinos

I've watched the play ten times now and I still haven't seen evidence that the lateral was actually a forward pass. Remember, the officials called it a lateral on the field and there has to be conclusive evidence to the contrary to overturn a call. Watch the video above, do you see conclusive evidence? The official wouldn't have messed up an interpretation of the rules if they hadn't overturned the lateral.

This blown call will not have any effect on the NFL season (unless we somehow get into the #7 tie breaker), but did have a major impact on NFL gamblers and fantasy football players. From Peter King:

The problem is the Steelers were very heavy betting favorites in this game. One Vegas bookie said last night that $100 million was bet on this game alone, with $66 million of that bet on the Steelers. The Steelers were four-point favorites. Instead of winning 17-10 or 18-10, the Steelers won 11-10. Thus they didn't cover, much to the angst of gamblers around the United States.


I'm getting used to consoling myself after an ugly win. This time, it was an 11-10 squeaker over San Diego. The team was held without a TD (sadly I'm getting used to this as well), but the defense played well again and Ben Roethlisberger made up for his poor game last week by executing an impressive drive to win the game. With Baltimore losing to the Giants, the win gave the Steelers a one game lead in the division with a should win game coming up against the one win, one non-loss Bengals.

Despite the ugly score, the Steelers have to be encouraged by a number of things about the game on Sunday.

- Willie Parker returned and made a big difference in the running game. He had 115 yards on 25 carries. In order to get this offense on track, the running game is of supreme importance. The return of Parker seemed to give the offensive line some added confidence as they opened big running lanes that haven't been there all season.

- Big Ben's final drive. After going down 10-8 with 6:41 left to play. Big Ben methodically led the team down the field to the win. In addition to scoring the winning points, the drive lasted 6 minutes and 30 seconds, meaning the Chargers had no time to answer. Big Ben made some great throws, including an extremely tight throw to Hines Ward on 3rd and 6 from the Chargers 40. Hopefully, this means the early season Ben Roethlisberger is back.

- Big Ben's day. 31-41. 308 yards. No turnovers.

- Have the Steelers found a new offensive identity? It featured lots of short passes. A couple shots downfield. An involved running game. No, the team didn't score many points, but it was effective moving the ball and controlled the clock, which is all we need with our incredible defense.

- The Steel curtain defense. Another incredible performance by this unit. Considering Anthony Madison and Fernando Bryant had significant playing time, it might be the best performance of the year. Troy, Silverback, Aaron Smith, Big Snack, and Woodley are playing at an incredible level. Once again, the defense carried us to victory. The only TD occurred because of a questionable pass interference call. I'm throwing it out there, James Harrison for MVP. Not defensive player of the year. MVP of the league. It won't happen because the award never goes to defensive players and Harrison isn't a household name, but, he is playing that well.

- We found the next person we can label the next Jerome Bettis. Gary Russell. All the short yardage problems are gone.

- Troy's INT. Unbelievable.

Despite the win, the Steelers have to be discouraged by a number of things about the game on Sunday.

- The offense didn't score a TD against one of the worst defenses in the league.

- Despite dominating the turnover battle, 2-0, and the yardage margin, 410-213, the Steelers needed a late game drive to win the game.

- Allowing another 4 sacks.

- 13 penalties, 115 yards.

- Special teams concerns. The punting game is poor. The return games are really poor. When you win mainly with defense, field position is extremely important. We continue to lose the field position game. The free punt after the safety was especially poor. I expected to get the ball back on the 40, with momentum on our side. We got the ball at our own 6 yard line. Unacceptable.

- Stuffed on the goal line for the third consecutive time. Stuffed again on third and one. Maybe that's what we should nickname this offensive line. Stuffed.

- Poor coaching decision to kick a 51 yard field goal in bad conditions. Skippy is great, but asking for the longest field goal in Heinz field history in poor conditions is a little much. Play the field position game and punt or go for it on 4th and 4 from the 33.

- This is just a personal rant, but does anyone else get sick of seeing a 5 wide formation with no one in the backfield? I mean, our offensive line can't block and our 4th and 5th Wide Receivers are named Limas Sweed and Matt Spaeth. Maybe Bruce Arians and the staff found a weakness in the SD defense and wanted to exploit it. But it certainly made more sense to me to run it from the SD 4 yard line on second down than to line up 5 wide and get sacked. And while I'm ranting, I also hate being in shotgun formation on 3rd and short. Then again, we can't convert running the ball...

This was a big win and, after last week's crushing loss, it feels good to get the W. The Steelers are in good position to win the division and make a run for a first round bye. But this team is still flawed on the offensive side of the ball, and until it starts doing the little things right, it doesn't have a shot of making a deep run in the playoffs. I'm holding out hope that the best football is still in front us.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It's the Chargers yet again...

This season and the Steelers' recent schedule for that matter makes me feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog's Day. There are a few teams it just seems like we play every year. New England, Indy and San Diego. This season feels like Groundhog's day because key people get injured, yet every week we come out and play competitive football regardless of who is in there. Depth was our biggest worry coming into the season, especially on O-line and D-line. Both of these areas have suffered key losses. Hampton and Keisel on teh D-line and Simmons and Smith on the O-line. Neither unit dropped off considerably when their backups came in. We have lost starters at every position and their backups have performed extremely well, especially at Mewelde Moore at RB.

Ben has been playing through his shoulder injury with mixed results at best. This week we face a Chargers team that despite their 4-5 reord, features playmakers at almost every position. The Chargers are like a chamelion, they play like whatever team they area facing that week. Their D seemed to improve when they fired D-Coordinator Ted Cotrell and replaced him with ex-Chicago bear D coordinator and one time Steeler head coaching candidate Ron Rivera.

Chargers On Offense- LDT just has not seemed to be himself this year. Count that as a posive for us. Our D is super run stingy. You never can discount LDT but I'm just saying, he is not having the kind of year we have come to expect from him. Our secondary, like the rest of the team is banged up, but SD's receiving core does not scare me that much. Gates is the only position that worries me. If we can pressure Rivers like we have been pressuring other teams lately, I think we will be in good shape. With Woodley coming back, I don't predict much time for Rivers to get the ball out. One thing that worries me is with all the injuries to the secondary, the coaches may not have sufficient confidence to run alot of the zone blitz schemes they normally would.

Our Offense needs to get its act together. Blame can be thrown alot of places, but it would be nice to see our offense come together in all areas and play a solid complete game. SD's D is good but not so good they should shut us down completely. We need to start using all our weapons in a variety of ways. In almost all of our losses this season we have lost because of turnovers. If Ben keeps it in his pants, then we win this game. I see another close, hard fought game. Whoever wins the turnover battle, wins this game. I see that being the Steelers.

Steelers 24-20

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Steelers problems bigger than Roethlisberger

Charles Robinson at Yahoo! Sports penned a nice piece about the Steelers offensive problems. It's sometimes valuable to read a piece like this by someone who probably doesn't watch every Steelers game and isn't as biased as a Steelers fan or Pittsburgh-based sports writer. It's also easy to forget that we have a team that is 6-3. The sky is not falling. At least not until we drop another game at home to San Diego...

When Bruce Arians woke up Wednesday morning, the zealotry of Pittsburgh Steelers nation was still pounding away like a ball-peen hammer on an iron rivet. It was inescapable – screaming from the radio, bundled between the pages of the local newspapers, etched across the dissatisfied faces of the faithful.

And while coaches loathe the basic excuse of injuries as a reason for ineffectiveness, Arians has some strong evidence backing up why the offense has sputtered this season. Consider:

• Pittsburgh has been making do with a third-string running back in Mewelde Moore, who has both average speed and size and had never carved out a consistent starting role in his previous four seasons in Minnesota. Meanwhile, Pro Bowler Willie Parker has been dealing with knee and shoulder injuries, playing in only one of the Steelers’ past six games. His backup, first-round pick Rashard Mendenhall, was lost for the season in Week 4.

• The offensive line has been undermanned and in turn lacked continuity since Week 4 of the season. Put aside the fact that Pittsburgh lost a quality guard in Alan Faneca in the offseason (and yes, that is important). Right guard Kendall Simmons, who had been a fixture on the line for the previous three seasons, was lost for the season against the Ravens. Pro Bowl left tackle Marvel Smith hasn’t played since Pittsburgh’s 4-1 start.

• Tight end Heath Miller hasn’t played in the past two games.

• And then you have Roethlisberger, who injured his right shoulder in the season opener against Houston, then reinjured it again in the win over Washington in Week 9. Meanwhile, he has missed an assortment of practices since the start of the season, which has in turn hurt his timing and decision-making at various points.

Even in the league’s “no excuse” era, that’s a staggering amount of circumstance: A hobbled quarterback, two missing running backs, three different offensive-line starters in comparison to 2007, and a dual-responsibility tight end sidelined, too. And yet, it’s Arians who is shouldering much of the blame after Sunday’s 24-20 loss to the Colts – a game ultimately scuttled by a pair of bad interceptions (three overall) by Roethlisberger.

Marvel out for year?

PFT is reporting Marvel Smith could undergo back surgery and miss the rest of the year. This report must be taken with a grain of salt since PFT posts many rumors (remember when the Steelers signed both Leftwich and Culpepper), but it is intriguing nonetheless.

We’re told that Steelers tackle Marvel Smith, who hasn’t played since October 5 at Jacksonville, currently is expected to undergo back surgery, and he will miss the rest of the year.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Post Gazette Defends Arians

Bob Smizik of the Post-Gazette is in the minority here.

Those wishing to fire Arians, and their numbers multiplied several times after the loss to Indianapolis Sunday, almost make it sound like a dismissal would be putting him out of his misery. They consider him badly over matched when it comes to calling plays and that, they insist, not the injuries is what's wrong with the Steelers' offense.

For the record, this column does not think Arians should be fired.

Anyone who thinks they can evaluate play-calling by sitting in front of a television set or in the stands at Heinz Field is delusional. It's far more complicated than that.

While I agree that Arians should not receive all the blame, it is pretty evident that he is struggling. Smizik goes on to challenge those that second guess the play calling that lead to Big Ben's interception at the end of the half and the two consecutive running plays from the 1 yard line that were stuffed. First of all, I actually like the running plays called on 2nd and 3rd and goal at the one. A good football team exerts its will on opponents. The Steelers should be able to gain one yard against a drastically smaller defensive front. No beef there. Now the Big Ben interception play call was asinine. The only goal, up 17-7 with 1:00 left in the half, should have been to get a first down. If you call a run, at worst, you make Indy use their final timeout and punt it away. Sure Indy might get a field goal, but you still go in with a 7 point lead. If you call a pass, the only goal should be to get two yards. So call a quick slant. A drag. A swing pass. A 4 yard route to the TE. Heaven forbid, we call a screen. The only thing you CANNOT do is turn the ball over. How does it make sense to have your injured quarterback throw deep? It doesn't. Then again, just because the play call was terrible doesn't excuse the horrendous decision making by Big Ben.

Coaches jobs are to put their players in the best position to win. No, Arians should not be fired because of those two play calls on Sunday. Arians should be fired because he has been over matched by nearly every team we have faced. Because he has turned the Steelers identity from a powerful,methodical offense to one of the most inconsistent offenses in the league. He should be fired, because he can't protect his quarterback. Because he can't adapt mid game. Because he can't adapt post game. Because he has no imagination. Because his play calling is predictable. Because he is predictably bad. And mostly, because we can win now, if the offense improves.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Steelers interested in Deangelo Hall?

Deangelo Hall was released by the Raiders this week and rumor has it that the Steelers might be interested. Even though it makes a ton of sense, and he could probably be signed cheap, I think it is highly unlikely the Steelers sign Hall. We have McFadden coming back from injury soon. Hall has a reputation for being a locker room disruption (although unfairly earned b/c his biggest incident was with slime ball Bobby Petrino) and I'm not sure how excited he will be to play the physical, stop the run first scheme that Dick Lebeau likes to run. Nonetheless, Hall would surely be an upgrade to Deshea Townsend and could fit in nicely in the nickel and dime defenses. Not to mention that he could drastically upgrade the return game. Let's see how this plays out.

From Pro Football Talk:

As we hear it, several teams are actively pursuing cornerback DeAngelo Hall, now that he has cleared waivers and become an unrestricted free agent.

We’re told that Hall is talking to several teams, including high-level
folks with more than one franchise. One source characterized it as a
“frenzy” of activity.

Adam Schefter reports that the Giants, Redskins, Steelers, and Patriots are interested.

UPDATE: Deangelo Hall Signs with Washington Redskins

Post game: Steelers - Redskins

I know. It's Friday and I should be writing game previews instead of looking back to last week's game. I'm running behind schedule, but last week's win might have been the best of the Tomlin era and there were lots of crazy developments.

- Big Ben doesn't look right. On the first drive, I texted my brother, "Ben looks hurt." The last two games have been nightmarish for him and have erased from our minds how he carried us through the first half of the season. Other than the bumps and bruises, and complete lack of confidence, one thing entirely missing this season is his ability to run with the football. There were several instances on Monday night where Ben easily could have picked up a first down, but refused to run. (Not to mention the fact that there is never a designed play to get Ben out of the pocket. Where are the roll outs?) I was too lazy to check the stats, but luckily our friends at PGH at similar thoughts.

The excuse we all like to make on Roethlisberger’s behalf is: “Ben holds the ball a long time because he is always looking to make big plays down field. Sure he gets sacked a decent amount, but the trade-off is that he can move around the pocket after a play breaks down and hit a homerun.” Really? How many times this year has Big Ben done that? In years past this rationale was spot on. Thus far in 2008, we’re seeing the sacks and the “holding the ball for too long” but we’re really not seeing the plays Ben was making with his legs in 2005. Evading 3 tacklers as he runs towards the sideline and launches a bomb for a TD….we just haven’t seen it. I think Roethlisberger’s ability to tuck the ball and run is something our offense is missing. Ben is more than capable of making the defense account for his running ability and he’s more than capable of picking up key 3rd downs by simply escaping the pocket and taking off.

You’ll see Big Ben is on pace for his worst season ever in terms of Rushing Attempts Per game, Rushing Yards Per Game, and First Downs via the scramble. You’d think these numbers would go up with a worse offensive line. Hmmm…
2008: 1.9 rushing attempts per game, 3.9 yards per game, on pace for 4 first downs this season.
2007: 2.3 rushing attempts per game, 13.6 yards per game, 17 first downs on the year.
2006: 2.1 rushing attempts per game, 6.5 yards per game, 11 fist downs on the year.
2005: 2.6 rushing attempts per game, 5.8 yards per game, 9 first downs on the year.
2004: 4.0 rushing attempts per game, 10.3 yards per game, 12 first downs on the year.

- I think I'm in the minority here, but I really liked the onside kick to start the game. The odds of getting the kick are more than 50/50. And after last week's let down, it set the tone that we would play this game with aggresion. Tomlin believed that even if it failed, our defense would hold. Aggression and confidence are two things that every team needs to win, especially in big games on the road. The onside kick was unsuccessful, but the tone it set was even more valuable.

- We pile on Arians nearly every week. He really is terrible and unimaginative. I truly believe if we had Mularkey or Whisenhunt calling the plays, this team would be the favorite for the Super Bowl. With Arians, our only hope is defensive brilliance. That said, major kudos to the coaching staff for not getting too conservative with Leftwich in the game. Leftwich showed the importance of having a solid back up QB. His play made this game a blowout, as opposed to a defensive nailbiter.

- What can you say about this defense? Never in my wildest dreams did I think they would be this good. Big Snack is routinely in the backfield. Aaron Smith is climbing the charts in my favorite Steelers of all time. Woodley and Harrison are unbelievable. Farrior is the QB. Timmons is explosive. Troy looks like the best safety in the league. The secondary is doing a great job, and that's with Tyrone Carter and Anthony Smith playing. But, as I have said before, the only way that we make a deep run in the playoffs is if the defense, not only stops opponents, but also forces turnovers. Our offense is sub-par. Winning teams with sub-par offenses, must dominate field position, make stops on defense, and force turnovers to score points.

- When looking at all aspects of the special teams, it wasn't a great day. Reed missed an XP. Berger was terrible. Our return teams are an embarassment. The onside kick didn't work. Nonetheless, the team has made tremendous strides in kick and punt coverage. AND, the turning point of the game came on a blocked punt. Hopefully, the coaching staff realizes that we should be sending punt block schemes much more often. If we can't return a punt, then let's go after the punter. The punt block by Frazier changed the momentum of the game that resulted in a touchdown before the half and a dominating performance after the half.

- An extremely worrying stat: Prior to this game, the Steelers were 1-8 on 3rd down and 1. 1-8! That is unbelievable bad. Several reasons: bad play calling (why oh why are we in shotgun on third and short), an offensive line that can't blow people off the ball, and a reluctance to hand the ball of to our most effective RBs. I know Najeh Davenport is big, but he is also slow and has bad vision. Some of the best short yardage backs in the history of the league, Emmitt Smith, LDT, are not big guys. Pittsburgh loves Jerome Bettis. We no longer have Bettis. Mewelde Moore is best suited to fill this role.

-Once again, Steelers fans invaded an opposing team's stadium. Rumor has it, Jason Campbell went to a silent count. IN HIS OWN STADIUM.

- Big win for Tomlin. I'm not always the biggest Tomlin fan. He's made some questionable on the field decisions, the team collapsed at the end of last season, he chose Arians as the OC, Colon and Simmons have started despite terrible play, etc... But in spite of the injuries this year, he has had the team prepared and ready to compete each and every week. He's still inexperienced and makes some mistakes (and should also take some heat for how bad the offense is performing), but the intensity, preparedness, and togetherness of the team have been outstanding.

- Did anyone see the guitar hero commercials? Holy cow. I can't believe these weren't censored. No complaints here.

Parker out vs the Colts

The Post-Gazette is reporting Willie Parker will miss the Colts game due to a shoulder injury sustained during the Redskins game.

Willie Parker's return to the starting lineup didn't last very long. After finally returning from a four-game absence to play in Monday night's victory against the Washington Redskins, the two-time Pro Bowl running back has a new injury -- an ailing shoulder -- and will not play against the Indianapolis Colts.

Parker injured his shoulder sometime in the third quarter against the Redskins -- "I'm not sure how," he said -- but still finished the game. His shoulder did not begin aching until the next day, and he has not practiced this week. Parker finished with 70 yards on 21 carries in his first game back from a sprained ligament in his left knee. He is expected to miss only one game and will be replaced by Mewelde Moore.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day: Get out the Vote

Big win for the Steelers on Monday night. I hope to get post-game thoughts up tomorrow.

More importantly, today is election day. Regardless of who you want to win (after last night I'm pulling for Dick LeBeau), let's all get out the vote. So call your friends and family members and make sure they get to the polls.