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!


Friday, December 12, 2008

Willie Parker: "Arians' Offense Sucks"

Ok, Willie Parker didn't really say that. But, he did take a shot at the "new" offensive system employed by the Steelers offense since Arians took over last year. Parker has repeatedly said that he likes to run behind a fullback in the I-formation. Unfortunately, Arians is obsessed with the double tight end set and the trips bunch.

Parker had this to say on Wednesday:
"I just don't think we should give up that quick," Parker said after
practice yesterday. "We're the Pittsburgh Steelers, everyone knows we're going
to run the ball -- or they used to think we'd run the ball. We pass the ball a
lot now. We go away from Steelers football, Steelers mentality."

"I definitely think about it all the time -- why can't we run the ball?
What's the difference between now and two years ago? So it's definitely being a
concern, me being a running back."

I find it interesting that Parker asked about the difference between now and two years ago. Last year, he led the league in rushing before breaking his leg. You would think he would ask about the difference between this year and last year. Last year, the Steelers ran a similar offensive set with Bruce Arians. Two years ago, Ken Whisenhunt was running the offense. I think this was a veiled shot at Coach Arians.
"We get into two tights now," Parker said, "it's like without a fullback,
[defenses] definitely know what's coming and they know where it's going. I
don't know what it is but it's not being effective.

This is a not-so-veiled shot at the the two tight end system. This is a direct criticism of the man running the offense. For many teams (see Dallas), it might be normal to see a star player criticising a coach or fellow teammate. Not in Pittsburgh. Yes, the fans are quick to place blame and most Steelers bloggers have been quick to point out the faults of the Steelers offense, who rank 25th overall ahead of juggernauts like the Chiefs, Raiders, and Lions. But, Steelers players normally say the right things to the media (Joey Porter and Anthony Smith are exceptions). The fact that Willie Parker is venting to the media is a sign of how much confidence the team has lost in the execution and game plan of the offense.

Mike Tomlin, as usual, has said the right things about Parker's outburst. There is a reason that players and coaches like to play for Tomlin, because he doesn't scapegoat them to the media.

"The issue for us has been, is and hopefully will continue to be winning --
that's my interpretation of Steelers football," Tomlin said. "Every morning I
come to work I walk past five Lombardis, not five rushing titles.

"The issue is winning...Do we need to get better in terms of running the football?
Absolutely," Tomlin said. "And the reason is this -- because it increases our
chances of winning.

"I talked to the football team. We're a 10-3 team trying to be an 11-3
team, and the issue and singular focus we should have is on winning."

It's great to have a loyal coach, but let's just hope the fact that this team is winning doesn't cloud his judgment about how poorly the offense has performed with the amount of talent on the roster.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Steelers-Ravens are Most Underrated Rivalry

Nice article by James Walker of ESPN Blog Network laying out the reasons why Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore is one of the best and most underrated rivalries in the NFL. Traditionally, everyone has thought our biggest rival is the Cleveland Browns. The second coming of Cleveland has been a rival in name only since the Steelers have won a vast majority of the games since their return in 1999. However, I would argue our rivalry with Cleveland is still in tact just in a different form. If you remember correctly, Cleveland left town and took the team to Baltimore. So, really Baltimore is our original Cleveland rival just moved to a different city and wearing ugly purple and white uniforms instead of ugly orange and white uniforms. There is still one player remaining on the Ravens from when they were the Browns. He is my least favorite kicker in the league, Matt Stover. I find it interesting that our previous most hated rival has turned into our current most hated rival.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Baltimore week kick off

As if enough wasn't on the line late in the season(division championship, first round bye), the Steelers face their most hated rival. To kick off Baltimore week, here are a collection of stories and videos.

Charles Robinson at Yahoo! Sports names Hines Ward vs Bart Scott the #1 feud in the NFL

1. Bart Scott vs. Hines Ward
There is a special dark spot in Scott’s heart, and it’s filled with every nasty thing he wants to unleash on Ward. He never liked the Steelers receiver, but his furor intensified Nov. 2007, when Ward blew up Scott and safety
Ed Reed on a pair of running plays. Both plays were legal by the letter of the NFL law, but both lit a fuse under Scott, who threatened to kill Ward late in that Ravens loss. Since then – and despite various warnings from the NFL – Scott has continued a slow burn. He’s watched Ward light up several other players, including the jaw-shattering shot on Cincinnati’s Rivers, and dreamt of a day he could return the favor without a fine from the NFL.

“There’s nothing mano y mano about that,” Scott said of Ward’s penchant for peeling back and leveling defenders who aren’t looking. “You put him in a phone booth with half those guys that he’s taking those shots at, he’d get his a** whupped. “If we’re going to play that way, let’s play that way. Let’s not play that way just when it benefits you, let’s play that way all the time. That means when Keith Rivers is defenseless and you take a shot and break his jaw, that means when you come across the middle and you’re defenseless, I get to take that shot. … That’s not man on man. That’s a cheap-shot artist. If you’re going to take a shot, that’s cool. But allow me to take mine without a $35,000 fine.”

Scott’s anger has added intensity to an already white-hot disdain between the two teams. A disgust that included linebacker
Terrell Suggs at one point suggesting the team had a bounty on Ward and running back Rashard Mendenhall. The Ravens knocked out Mendenhall with a season-ending shoulder injury when the teams met in September. Suggs later recanted the notion of a bounty, but only after an NFL official met with him about it in Baltimore.
Asked about Suggs’ talk of a bounty, Scott replied, “Whatever Suggs said about Mendenhall or Hines or whoever, everything was done cleanly on our side. Mendenhall got put out the game legally. What he said about a bounty, I don’t understand why people deem that as something dirty.”

When you talk to Ward about it all, he gives only a Cheshire grin. It seems there is a certain sense of satisfaction to be gotten when other players are out there thinking about you.
“I’d be mad too if a 200-pound wideout knocked me out,” Ward said. “I’d get upset at that, too. He has every right to be upset. But a cheap shot? If that’s what he wants to call it, then I’m a cheap shot.

“Maybe they feel like their defense wants to bully everybody, and we’re not bullied by them. We know they’re going to hit us in the mouth and we’re going to hit back. And they don’t particularly like that.”

The aforementioned Hines Ward hits on Ed Reed and Bart Scott.

Let's not forget James Harrison's incredible game on MNF last year. His stat line looked like this: 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception, 3.5 sacks, and 9 tackles. The always respectful Ravens said this after the game: "when a little 5-9 linebacker gets four sacks. That will never happen again in his life. He knows that.”

You stay classy Baltimore

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thinking positive thoughts...

Year in and year out, I am the most negative of the three SteezBros about the prospects for the Steelers. Instead of marveling at overcoming injuries and a difficult schedule to attain a 10-3 record, I focus on the team's glaring weaknesses. Instead of being thankful for owners like the Rooneys and coaches like Dick LeBeau, I cry myself to sleep thinking about the employment status of Bruce Arians and Larry Zierlein. Instead of enjoying James Harrison's MVP-like season, I'm thinking about how much we are going to have to pay him in the off season. And the list goes on.

The Steelers win over the Cowboys, while incredibly dramatic and unlikely, did more to convince me that this team is fatally flawed than that it is destined for Super Bowl greatness. However with Christmas time approaching, no one likes to read about the flaws in your favorite team. So instead of talking about how I would rather have the Ravens offense than the Steelers right now, I'm going to focus on ten positives. Here goes:

1.) I was born in the early 1980's, so I'm not comparing them to the Steel Curtain, but this defense is the best Steelers defense I have ever seen. Even when our defenses were ranked in the top 5, I've never really felt like we had an elite crew. Too many spread offenses dinked the ball down the field. Too many teams could pick on an average secondary. Players like Fred Taylor always had our number. But, this unit is elite. The 3 man line of Hampton, Smith, and Keisel stuff the running game and collapse the pocket. The linebackers have all of the skills. Harrison and Woodley are the most prolific sack duo in Steelers history. Foote is a run stuffer. Farrior is an experienced, signal caller playing at an elite level. And Timmons brings an explosiveness and ability to cover and tackle in the open field that was missing in the past. Despite the performance of this unit, it is the improvement in the secondary that has made the defense elite. Even though he has rocks for hands, Ike Taylor can take an elite wide receiver out of the game. McFadden and Gay have played very well as the number two corner and upgraded the speed of the defense. Deshea is a grizzled vet, more suited to play in the nickel than continue his run as a starter. Ryan Clark is a big hitter than rarely gets beat deep. And Troy, now that he is healthy, is the best safety in the game. Dick LeBeau has had top defenses with weak talent. With these players, you're seeing something special.

2.) Ten forced turnovers in the last two games.

3.) The Steelers are a lock for the playoffs this year. There is still a reasonable chance that the team doesn't win the division, but, barring an epic meltdown and loss to the Ken Dorsey-led Browns, you will see this team in the playoffs.

4.) If the Steelers beat the Ravens on Sunday, the AFC North and a first-round bye will be clinched. Even if the Steez lose to the Ravens, we could get a bye by winning the last two. Even if we lose to the Ravens and the Titans, we could get a bye if we beat the Browns and the Ravens lose to the Cowboys or Jags.

5.) Ben Roethlisberger's ability to engineer game winning drives has ensure that we have more W's than L's. I don't think Big Ben has received enough criticism for his poor play this year, but that is because he has managed to win us some games late in the game. Where would we be without his performances in the 4th quarter against Jax, SD, Baltimore, and Dallas?

6.) Head coaching stability. Early indications make it look like the Rooneys picked another head coaching winner. Mike Tomlin's group is playing hard and playing as a team. He will lead this team to the playoffs in his first two years. I can't imagine having to put up with coaches like Butch Davis, Bobby Petrino, Dave Campo, Nick Saban, Norv Turner, Marty Morningwig and Herm Edwards, just to name a few.

7.) The improvement of kick and punt return coverage is amazing. I've almost stopped worrying about giving up a back-breaking return. Almost.

8.) Hines Ward. Keith Rivers - enough said.

9.) Jeff Reed has turned into one of the best kickers in the league. I used to bet the older Steezbro that Skippy would miss every field goal attempt outside of 45 yards. Two years and a couple hundred dollars later, I finally trust Jeff Reed.

10.) The invisibility of Steely McBeam.

What are your positive thoughts about the Steelers?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Value of a good OC

For the surprise teams of the 2008 season, Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco are turning in two of the most impressive seasons for a rookie quarterback since Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning, and Dan Marino. While a significant amount of attention has been given to the performance of these two players (and rightfully so), there has been less focus on the schemes and offensive coaches of the Ravens and Falcons. It should come as no surprise that each team has one of the best offensive coordinators in the league. The Falcons employ Mike Mularkey, former Steelers Offensive Coordinator and Head Coach of the Buffalo Bills. The Ravens employ Cam Cameron, former SD Chargers Offensive Coordinator and Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins. These coaches have devised great game plans that take into account the limitations of rookie signal callers.

Keith Kidd from Scout's Inc. had this to say about the Ravens improvement:
In studying the Ravens offense this season, the three key elements that stick out in my mind have been improved play selection, personnel designs that creates mismatches by offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, and the most critical aspect of consistent production at quarterback with Joe Flacco.

Don Banks at CNNSI wrote this about Mularkey:
As the Falcons' first-year offensive coordinator, Mularkey has quietly done one of the best coaching jobs in the NFL this season, putting rookie quarterback Matt Ryan into the position to win right away. He has also gotten the best from Atlanta's Michael Turner-led running game and an offensive line that few thought would achieve so much.

On many Steeler fan sites (including this one), Bruce Arians has been repeatedly ripped for his poor management of the Steelers offense. When the Steelers played the Ravens earlier in the season, I remarked to the other SteezBros that the Ravens had called a great offensive game. I don't think I've said that once about the Steelers.

Maybe this offseason the Steez should hire a proven offensive coordinator. Gary Kubiak or Norv Turner anyone?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

We Beat the PATRIOTS!

Well, we finally beat the Patriots and in Foxboro no less. If any penalty has ever been worth committing, Ryan Clark has found it. I question whether it should have been a penalty at all. The league announced today it would not be fining Ryan Clark. Also, contained in the announcement was that leaving your feet is not a penalty. That's hockey people. If you didn't already think Randy Moss was mailing it in, after Clark nearly decapitated Wes Welker, the Patriot receivers did not seem interested in participating in this game, in the least. If we knew all it would take to shut down the Pats offensive game plan of short passes over the middle was one big hit we could have saved years of frustration and possible won another Superbowl.

Enough cannot be said of the performance of our Defense in this game and this season. In previous attempts to defeat the Patriots, we have been plagued by not getting to the QB and getting gashed by delays and short dump off passes to the RB's. We still got gashed by delays but getting pressure was not an issue on Sunday and that made all the difference in the world. James Harrison and Lamar Woodley, Casey Hampton and Timmons were in the backfield all day. The pressure lead to alot of turnovers. One constant remains; Ike Taylor can't catch. Luckily, Gostkowski shanked a short field goal.

The team speed on D this season cannot be overlooked. Timmons covering in the flat resulted in an interception that almost went the distance except he ran out of gas at the one. Woodley and Harrison coming off the ends; Troy back to form and all over the place. He leads the league in interceptions. McFadden when he was in and will be back this week.

Another key component to this victory was the O-Line. Ben was only sacked once and had alot of time to throw. Max Starks is again perfroming well at left tackle. His situation baffles me but having him as Marvel's backup, even if it is costing $7 million this season does not look as bad as it did prior to the season. (although it is still a highly questionable move) I heard that the O-line has abondoned the zone blocking scheme. Seemed to work for this game at least. Nate Washington and Santonio Holmes seem to trade places. One week one is reliable and makes plays and one drops passes left and right. The next game it is reversed. Both drop catchable balls and then make crazy catches. Nice to see us getting the ball to Heath on a consistent basis. He is one tough SOB.

Santonio actually had a decent punt return.

Mildly concerning is our inability to score touchdowns in the red zone lately. Yes, we put up 33 points but it should have been a lot more with the number of turnovers our D created. Our D will keep us in most games, but we need to score touchdowns when the ball is given to us deep in opposing teritory if we want to win in the playoffs.

Upcoming Schedule
-if you would have told me at the beginning of the season we would be 9-3 heading into the Dallas game, I would have been very pleased. But Baltimore is only 1 game behind us and we have a really tough closing stretch

We have 2 out of 4 on the road. Balt has 3 out of 4 at home.

at Balt
at Ten

at Dal

Our next 3 games are against 3 of the top teams in the NFL. They will be great preparation for the playoffs but we could lose all 3. We need to win at least one of the next 3 and then hold serve against Cleveland in the last game of the season.

My prediction

-Barber and Ware are banged up. I don't think Ware plays. Barber will go. Everyone knows we shut down the run. Our secondary is up to the TO, Witten challenge, especially with McFadden coming back. Our offensive line continues to improve and we run it when we want to and Ben makes some key plays and limits his turnovers.

Steez 31 - Dallas 20

I think we beat Balt, lose to Ten and beat Clev to finish out the year at 12-4.

Anyone else have predictions?