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Monday, September 10, 2007

What we learned: Cleveland

Here's what we learned in Cleveland:

First and foremost, the Browns still stink. They're going to feel really good about Brady Quinn in Cleveland next season when they have to send their first-round pick to Dallas instead of getting a shot at taking Brian Brohm or Darren McFadden.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Dick LeBeau is a genius. Why the man isn't in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is beyond me.

You people who have complained that the Steelers don't throw to the tight ends enough have nothing to complain about this week. Then again, I've said all along that the Steelers throw to the tight ends plenty.

The most impressive thing about the Steelers' pass rush Sunday was that on more than one occasion, the defender was beating somebody at the line of scrimmage to get to the quarterback. They weren't just coming in free - though that happened to.

What got into Jeff Reed? He had seven touchbacks all of last season. Sunday he had three.

Santonio Holmes is going to have a very good season.

James Harrison had a team-high seven tackles and a sack Sunday and was a force to be reckoned with. Joey Porter had three tackles in a Miami loss to Washington. Yep, that's what I thought.

Imagine how good Ben Roethlisberger's numbers would have been without the four drops the Steelers had.

Najeh Davenport didn't run with that kind of conviction last season. It makes me wonder if he was completely healthy last season. That's something I'll have to ask him this week.


adamg said...

Aaron Smith pushing around the RT on his sack was something to behold. Same with Farrior(?) bullrushing Thomas at LT and bowling him over.

datruth4life said...

My thoughts on the Cleveland butt-kicking:

- Dick Lebeau is a genius! Did you guys notice that on that first series, he provided Charlie Frye with a look that he had never before displayed in the preseason or regular reason? The Steelers, on third down, came out with a 4-1-6 look, with the four pass rushers being A. Smith, Chris Hoke, Casey Hampton and Brett Kiesel. Talking about coming after Frye with some beef! The dime linebacker was Farrior with six DBs in the game. Aaron Smith got the sack, but more importantly, that puts the Steelers best DLs on the field in an alignment that no one can run against. Just one more look from the wizard.

- Big Ben, glad to see you back. That’s the QB that was MIA this past year. As long as our defense plays like that and our special teams delivers that type of field position, Big Ben doesn’t have to take as many chances and can throw the ball away when there is nothing there. Honestly Ben, it is okay to punt.

- Bruce Arians, you are making a believer out of me. I thought the Steelers would be in trouble if they get away from the running game, but they might just have to pass first to establish the running game. This offensive line isn’t going to blow anyone off the ball nor give Ben 6 to 7 seconds to pass on every down. So, BA is correctly focusing on matchups to try and get chunks of yardage to help this team be most effective on offense. Spaeth and Miller in the red zone could give this team a whole different dimension. I like both of those big bodies on a LB or a safety down there.

- Holmes and Ward are going to cause a lot of secondaries headaches this year. Yes, Baltimore Ravens, I’m talking about you too. Let’s just hope that with this OL, Ben will have enough time to get the two the ball. That block that Santonio threw to help out Ward exemplifies why the Steelers chose to pay Hines the big money instead of Plaxico. Ward sets the tone for the wide receiving corps and the offense as a team leader. You still don’t know what you will get from Plaxico on a week-to-week basis. Talent isn't the only thing when it comes to making such decisions. Attitude and the ability to show up every week counts a great deal as well.

- Ed Bouchette is one of the best pro football writers in America, but I don’t agree with his argument that the Steelers made a mistake in trading a conditional 7th round pick for Allen Rossum. For those of you that don’t know, Ed has written that acquiring Rossum has set off a domino effect that: has robbed Santonio of his rightful job to return punts since he had a higher punt return average than Rossum this past year, put 3rd round pick Willie Reid, the team’s regular kickoff and punt returner, on the game day inactive list; caused the team to cut C Marvin Philips and put him on the practice squad; and cause LT Jason Capizzi a spot on the practice squad that is now occupied by Philips. This is why I think Ed’s argument is hogwash. No. 1, Rossum is a better and more confident returner than Willie Reid is right now. Rossum showed good hands yesterday and the type of quicks on at least a couple of the returns that gives you the indication that he could break one. With Reid, I just wondered if he would catch the ball. How many of you wanted to see Reid back there trying to catch punts yesterday in that driving rain? Yeah, I didn't think so. No. 2, for all the good that Santonio did this past year for the offense, he still put the ball on the ground too much as a returner. What’s wrong with having a former Pro Bowler as a returner that will allow Santonio to concentrate on trying to be a Pro Bowl receiver. And just like Tomlin’s philosophy, what’s wrong with giving Reid some competition to get back on the field? No. 3, apparently the Steelers aren’t as high on Capizzi and I and most of the Steelers fans are. If they did, they would have kept him on the regular roster or cut one of the 7 other players besides Philips on the practice squad to give him a spot. And since no other team has signed Capizzi to their practice squad, maybe the Steelers are right. I, however, don’t think so. I still think Capizzi, with a few years of seasoning, could be a starter some day at LT. And by the way, a rookie free agent tackle from Howard University saved the day for the Redskins yesterday when Jon Jansen left the game in the first quarter with a dislocated ankle. The player that rookie RT Stephen Heyer stoned all day yesterday: your former Steeler All-Pro, Joey Porter.

- There was a Lawrence Timmons sighting yesterday. The team has him as one of the primary gunners on the punt team and is working him at the ILB in the base defense. I think these are the right moves for him since he has trouble holding the point of attack as an OLB in the 3-4. Having Timmons means that the Steelers will have a seamless transition at RILB when Farrior steps aside. Timmons' game right now is speed and playing in space. Give him a year of learning and another 10 to 15 pounds, and he’ll be ready to make a move for a starting job next year. Still, having someone who can play inside as well as put their hand down and rush on 3rd down gives LeBeau one more bullet for the chamber. I think one of the first day picks next year should go to getting a future bookend for Woodley at OLB. A couple of people to keep your eye on during the college season are Tommy Blakely from TCU and Quentin Groves from Auburn.

- I think next year will be the perfect time to rebuild the offensive line. From what I’ve seen so far, Alan Faneca is not at the level that he once was and would not be worth making him the highest paid guard in the game. By letting Faneca go, the Steelers will get a 3rd round pick in draft compensation the following year and can slide Kendall Simmons to left guard and put Kemeautou in the RG spot, which would be better suited to his mauling style. Kevin Colbert will do what he always does when it comes to filling a position: he’ll sign a free agent tackle or guard with some upside who is coming off their first contract and then use 2 high picks on an OT and OG to come in and compete at that spot. At least the Steelers line for 2008 is under contract and will probably look like this: M.Smith, K. Simmons, Mahan, Kemeautou, Colon. Someone will overpay Max Starks and the Steelers could possibly get a 3rd or 4th round pick for him when he leaves after this year as well.

- I hate to rain on your parade fellas, but Willie Parker is a fumbler. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then that animal is a duck. Willie led all RBs this past year in fumbles with 7. He fumbled in the preseason and he fumbled yesterday and he put the ball on the ground during the Steelers championship run two years ago (the Denver game comes to memory even though the officials later reversed the call and said he was down; it could have gone either way). Either Willie will have to go to the Tiki Barber school of holding the ball in a different way so as not to fumble, or Tomlin has to show him that putting the ball on the ground will equate to being on the bench. I know some of you are saying, “How dare you consider putting an all-pro RB on the bench?” My response would be “Easily,” if he continually puts the ball on the ground.

- Also, is there anyone else out there that thinks that Arians had better put together more of a power package with Davenport or Carey Davis getting some carries with Kreider at FB when this team goes up against a stout run defense like the Ravens or the Chargers? Parker’s style of picking and darting doesn’t work too well against those type of teams. You need more of a one cut and go type of RB with some power to effectively move the chains against those teams. I’d like to see some series where the Steelers would throw a bigger RB at them and maybe even just go two tight ends, 2 WRs and one back, spread the field and see if that will present some problems. Willie’s inability to run against physical defenses and his propensity of late to put it on the ground is something Tomlin and Arians have to be concerned about.

- In all actuality, the Browns QB Anderson isn’t that bad of a quarterback. If you give him the time, he can hurt you. The person that should be faulted for the team’s dismal showing yesterday is Romeo Crennel. You don’t take the whole offseason to evaluate your QB position, name someone a starter the week of the game and then pull that guy after 1.5 quarters of football. If that’s the case, then Anderson or Quinn should have been the starter from the get go. My guess is that Quinn will be starting after their bye break and Crennel could very well be fired by then. Ultimately, the real culprit of Cleveland’s demise is its poor drafting and free agency decisions and injuries the past few years. All those no. 1 picks that ended up being busts (ala Gerard Warren) has set this franchise back, and Braylon Edwards is no game-breaker. Unfortunate injuries to Bentley, Gary Baxter, and Winslow also hurt this team as well.

- If Winslow is indeed the “Future”, as he calls himself, then I’d rather take the “Current,” which is Heath Miller at tight end. The first guy doesn’t bring Miller down and he has some of the best hands in the business, TE or WR. Winslow is more flashy, but you will win more games with someone like Miller, who can block, run and catch. In fact, I think Winslow is more of a big WR than an all-around tight end.

- I’m not joking when I say that special teams could be a strength for the team this year. I like having a dependable return man for a change and the coverage teams have better speed and bigger bodies. They kept Marquis Cooper over Chidi because they consider him a better special teams player, so we’ll see what he adds once he is healthy. And Timmons, Woodley, A. Harrison, W. Gay, and C. Davis are all good special team players. With Buffalo coming into town this week with Roscoe Parrish and CB Terrence McGhee as returners, the Steelers are going to have to play solid on special teams to not let that phase hurt them.

- Let’s see, James Harrison yesterday, 7 tackles, 1 sack and $1.3 million signing bonus. Joey Porter for the Dolphins yesterday, 3 tackles, 0 sacks, $12.5 million signing bonus and $20 million guaranteed. Yep, that’s why the Dolphins are the Dolphins and the Steelers are the Steelers. By the way, I like that 6 sacks and 5 turnovers yesterday. That wasn’t the same Steelers defense that I saw play this past year. I think Lebeau still has a few wrinkles up his sleeve. I’m still waiting for Keisel to make a big play in that quarter defense, though.

- As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks for reading. Be blessed.

Wieters said...

I'm sick of Ed Bouchette's incessant whining about trading for Rossum and drafting Sepulveda. He sounds more like a ticked off fan than an objective beat reporter.

I think he's been brainwashed by Cowher to believe that the only way to win football games is to run the ball straight up the gut behind a fullback on first and second down, and that special teams are not a meaningful component of football games.

Didn't he see how many games yesterday were either won or lost by special teams play? Did he even watch the Steelers own special teams last year, and how much they were absolutely killed by them?

datruth4life said...

I think Tomlin's emphasis on special teams is going to pay off big-time for this team. Cowher would have won at least one if not two more Super Bowls if he had paid more attention to that phase of the game. Cowher always paid lip service to special teams, but Tomlin has put his money and his roster where his mouth is.

Anonymous said...

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There is a lot of action going on about the ignorant players that refused to talk to OR after they lost again.