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Monday, October 01, 2007

What we learned, Arizona

The Steelers played about as poorly as I think you'll see them play this season in Sunday's 21-14 loss to Arizona, basicially beating themselves on many fronts.

That's not to say the Cardinals didn't deserve to win. They did. They had a good gameplan - particularly on defense with their changing fronts that seemed to confuse the Steelers' – and they executed it better than Pittsburgh did with its plan.

But when you have 11 penalties, give up a special teams touchdown and don't get any points out of a first-and-goal series from the 4, you're going to lose.

© The Cardinals were very disruptive defensively against the run, getting plenty of penetration. Strong safety Adrian Wilson was a big reason for that. He was very disruptive in the running game and the Cardinals used him much the same way the Steelers use Troy Polamalu.

Fortunately for the Steelers, not every team has a strong safety capable of playing like that.

© Three of the Steelers' four leading tackles Sunday were cornerbacks. That should tell you what kind of day it was.

It could also be a glimpse of what they are going to see in the future.

Because there are few teams out there who can line up and run the ball against the Steelers' base defense, more teams are going to attempt to spread things out and beat the Steelers with short, quick throws.

It only added up to 14 points for the Cardinals, but they did move the ball somewhat effectively with it. And it sure beats running your back into the line 20 times for 50 yards.

© On Steve Breaston's 73-yard punt return, it looked to me like the Cardinals had three guys take out linebacker James Harrison at the line of scrimmage.

If that's what teams are going to do to Harrison, somebody else has to make the tackle.

© Did Cedrick Wilson play Sunday?

I know Nate Washington did because he at least showed up on the stat sheet with a couple of catches – and also just missed on a couple of deep passes.

But Wilson added nothing to the equation.

At least the Steelers were able to run a couple of wide receiver screens with Willie Reid. Maybe it's time Reid is active and Wilson sits when Hines Ward returns.

© Ben Roethlisberger claims he didn't see Wilson when he picked off a pass intended for Heath Miller from the 2.

My only question is, did he see the other two guys?

© That said, I overheard Roethlisberger talking to head coach Mike Tomlin in the locker room after the game, with the quarterback apologizing to the head coach for blowing it.

Tomlin's response? "Don't worry about it. We win as a team, we lose as a team."


Jason said...

Great stuff as always, Dale. It was a frustrating game all around.

I agree with what you are saying about teams spreading out the Steelers' defense. It will be interesting to see what they will do to try to counter it.

adamg said...

Well, I give the defense somewhat of a pass on Ariz's last drive because of not having either Hampton or Hoke at NT. I wonder if the coaches considered moving Aaron Smith inside along Eason or Kirshke and putting Woodley at DE for a 4 man line.

I agree, though, that the Steelers could hardly have played a worse or sloppier game.

On offense I have to think, given Ben's comment to Arians about this being "his Cleveland" that Ben got
himself overly psyched and perhaps tried to do too much rather than letting the game come to him.

On a different note, how did you see the spot on Leinert's sneak on 4th and 1? It sure looked like on TV, not even the farthest point of the OL got past the first down marker, let alone Leinert.

Stillexile said...

Please let us know ASAP any news you hear on Casey and Troy's injuries... I know Hoke's out for this week, judging from the "neck sprain" determination, and Eason in the middle scares the hell out of me...

adamg said...

3 guys to take out Harrison, wow, that's amazing. I wonder how many they assigned to take out Clint Kriewalt? I have to think Kriewalt could be cut to make roster room to sign Paxson off the practice squad if neither Hoke nor Hampton can go.

Wieters said...

Hi Dale,

In your expert opinion, why do you think the Steelers played so poorly? They looked almost nothing like the 2007 Steelers I've come to know and love, and everything like the 2006 Steelers I was embarrassed of.

It's just disappointing because I've come to expect so much more from Tomlin. The team looked utterly unprepared, unmotivated, unfocused, and undisciplined. And the gameplan and playcalling were just garbage. How did this happen? Did anything go on behind the scenes we should know about?

We're going to learn a lot about this team by the way they respond next week. I'll refrain from overreacting until we see what happens then.

Dale Lolley said...

I saw Hokie on the plane back and he seemed fine. Was moving his neck well. Saw McFadden as well. He had a wrap on his ankle, but was moving OK. I didn't see Casey or Polamalu. Casey's injury, I would guess, would be the more serious of the two. I'll find out tomorrow. Nobody was talking today.
I would also expect Hines back this week.
As for why they played poorly, the o-line was a big part of it. They couldn't establish a running game. I think Whiz and Grimm knew their weaknesses and attacked them.

Anonymous said...

Throwing the pass to the TE on third and goal wasnt the brightest idea in the world. I looked at my son and my wife and told them they were going to do it. If a dumb schmow like me knows that then the guy who ran the offense for 3 or 4 years in a red polo knows it too.

Still, the Steelers are in first place and they lost to a non-conference team. Its not the end of the world.

I really, really want to see them beat Holmgren and the Seahawks. I cant stand Holmgren.

Thanks Dale as always

datruth4life said...


-I think you will see Willie Reid active this week and Cedric Wilson on the bench. Reid did more with his 2 opportunities of getting the ball than Wilson has done in 4 games this year. Wilson still can't get off press coverage and doesn't like to be hit at all.

-Andre Frazier should be active this next game because he is one of the best special team players on the squad. He can also fill in some for J. Harrison to give him a blow in the base defense.

-It's been 2 days, but I still feel sick seeing Ben throw that interception into the end zone. Your remark on that, about Ben not seeing A. Wilson but you wondering if he saw the other two guys, is the best line that I've seen yet after this game.

-Do you agree that this next game will tell us all we need to know about Tomlin and the 2007 Steelers?

-Bruce Arians and LeBeau got it handed to them this week. Arians needs to have something available for the O to go to when the running game isn't working. How about going 3 WR and spreading the field to create running lanes for Willie or going no huddle? Well now, there's a thought.

-Lebeau has to put something on the field to better stop spread offenses. A 4-man line, using a combination of the DLs and OLBs, along with Farrior and Foote as ILBs, and 5 DBs is the only answer I see on first and second down. Steelers CBs have got to press the WRs when they go to this, or it's simply pitch and catch all day long for the opponent's offense.

-I don't think you can play LeBeau's 4-1-6 package on 1st and 2nd down because teams will run on that. You can play it on 3rd downs, but otherwise, I think the 4-2-5 will have to be the base package against the spread and no huddle offense.

-I really liked the look of that 4-man DL earlier this year that LeBeau unveiled against Cleveland with Hampton, Hoke, A.Smith and Kiesel. I'd rotate the two end positions with Harrison, Haggans, Kiesel and Woodley and go with that when teams spread it out. Unless the Steelers D stops the spread and no huddle, it's going to be a long year.

-Your thoughts?

adamg said...

On the injury front, Tomlin reported McFadden with the dreaded high ankle sprain and called him "doubtful" for Sunday. Ward seems to be day-to-day.
Minor bruises to Harrison's knee and Ben's foot. Hoke, Hampton and Polo not mentioned at all and when asked Tomlin said their injuries were not serious at all.

Dale Lolley said...

Geez, the defense gave up 14 points without Polamalu and Hampton and they got it handed to them? Tough crowd.

I said tonight on my radio show on 970-AM that I think Reid will get more chances to be active, likley at Wilson's expense. But it could be Washington as well.

Bonaventure said...

I think Reid will get a chance to be active as well. I actually think he can be a good receiver. He seems to catch everything and has speed as well.

I would have liked to see the Steelers do exactly what the Cardinals did to them. When the running game clearly isn't working, spread the other team out and go to the quick passing game.

I think we have the receivers to make that work if we need to. If the other team tries to jump the routes, perhaps try a deep ball or something. Warner ran it well against us. I think we could do it well too.

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