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Monday, September 22, 2008

Post-Philadelphia thoughts

I've been covering the Steelers since 1993. I've never seen a Pittsburgh team beat up like it was Sunday in Philadelphia.

There were nine sacks and it just as easily could have 15. The running game went nowhere. And the Steelers made precious few changes to stop it.

Keeping Heath Miller in the backfield was the only visible adjustment in the blocking scheme and, as Kendall Simmons pointed out, all that did was bring another blitzer into the fold since the Eagles now only needed to cover two or three receivers.

The Eagles knew the Steelers running backs weren't receiving threats, so they jammed the wideouts at the line of scrimmage and kept Ben Roethlisberger from hitting his hot reads. And then they hit Roethlisberger.

A few passes to the backs would have slowed that down.

© The Steelers began the game in a three tight end package and opened the second half in the same package.

Roethlisberger threw nine yards to Heath Miller in the first half out of that package. Willie Parker gained four yards on a run in the second half.

And then we didn't see the package again.

© Ike Taylor does an awful lot of jawing after every play for somebody who constantly gives up catches.

Make a play Ike, then you can talk.

© A lot will be made out of Ben Roethlisberger's banged-up hand, but the bigger injury may have been to Casey Hampton, who suffered a groin injury.

The defensive line depth was already being tested with Brett Keisel out with a calf injury. Now Hampton could be out as well.

That's not good.

© The first few sacks Sunday were just on overloads, bringing more guys than the Steelers could block. But as it kept happening, guys started getting beat in their individual matchups as well.

It turned into a feeding frenzy and the Steelers were the meal.


adamg said...

Dale, is Bruce Arians in any danger of falling out of favor with Tomlin?
He has not shown any ability to adapt the offense to the kind of scheme Philly showed. At some point, Tomlin, as the HC, has got to see his job will be on the line, too, if there are many more games like yesterday on offense.

kelly said...

Arians better get his head out of his you know what before Monday night. His inability to adjust to an all out blitzing scheme is mind boggling. We've had trouble with the Ravens pressure in the past and now with the film of yesterdays game in hand, they will be bringing the same blitzes as Philly. Actually, everyone that has anything to do with the offense is accountable, from Arians calling an absolutely horrible game, to Ben for not calling an audible out of certain plays and not dumping the ball off to his backs, to the Oline to blah, blah, blah, everyone saw the game. Bottom line is things need to change or Ben will be killed and we'll lose a lot of games.

One other thing I noticed is, why are we not getting the plays called quicker? It seemed every time we got to the line there was like 5 seconds left on the clock making it even easier for the blitzing D to pin there ears back knowing when the ball will be snapped! And having our receivers bunched on one side tight to the line also makes it easier for them to blitz and harder for us to know who to block! Spread them out a bit for crying out loud and hit some quick slants! We did nothing to make them back off!

Sorry for the rant, but that was one of the most frustrating games I ever watched.

Patrick said...

last year when we played the Patriots I thought the players gave up at the end and it was the most awful thing I've seen the Steelers do in a long time

Yesterday, the coaches gave up. No adjustments, no FG attempt at the end to try and salvaage a win (as long of a shot that was, why not TRY?).

I think its unacceptable and I'm disgusted with Tomlin and the offensive staff. If Arians is fired during the course of the year and it results in an adjustment period, I'm all for it. A message needs to be sent to this staff and team.

The defense played their tails off, it still wasn't the greatest performance, but the effort and will to win was there.

Dale Lolley said...

I had no problem with not kicking. They were at the 20. They needed a touchdown and there was less than a minute left.
If you kick there, you've got to get the onside kick and then get a touchdown in about 30 seconds. Wasn't going to happen.
But if you score the TD and then get the onside kick, you only need to hit on pass to get into field goal range.
The odds were better for the TD from the 20 rather than throwing one up into the end zone from 50 yards out.

As for Arians, they did make some adjustments, but by the time they did so at the half, the Eagles were smelling blood and feeding off their crowd. They started beating guys one-on-one.

Patrick said...


I'm not really arguing with you and I respect your opinion and see what you mean, but they could have kicked it before the 20 and saved time. I'm not sure of the exact circumstances, regardless, on 4th down you kick the FG and extend your chances, even if they are a million to one shot. You extend the game that way, thats my opinion of it.

But the way this game was, it almost seemed like they (from the coaches to the water boy) just wanted to pack up and go home. If thats their attitude on anything, I don't care if we are down 47-0, then they need to be re-evaluated.

I don't think I've ever been more upset with a Steelers effort than yesterday.

NYC said...

Eh, it's one game, so I'm not going to panic yet, but it would be nice if the Steelers offense could get creative and run outside, try some short passes, whatever, rather than just continue to bang their heads against the wall & Ben's head against the ground. Have to think the O-Line is not as bad as it looked, and this is more a result of the team not adjusting it's schemes.

Defense was awesome last night, and when you think it was done with Hampton, Keisel, and Townsend out, it's even more impressive. Looks like Polamalu is on his way to another Pro Bowl. All that said, it is a little disturbing that McNabb was able to complete his first 14 passes (or whatever it was). Reminds me of the days when the Pats discovered the way to beat the Steelers was to run the spread, and dink & dunk your way to the end zone.

Unbelievable to think that the Steelers still had a chance to win the thing up until Ben's safety.

There have been plenty of Steeler losses "worse" than this...the infamous game against the Texans comes to mind, as does Super Bowl XXX, any of the playoff losses to the Pats, the playoff loss in (2002?) to the Titans where Lee Flowers got called for roughing the kicker, the snowstorm game against the Jets at the Meadowlands when Mularkey refused to call any running plays, last year's loss to the Jets, and oh yeah, last year's loss to the could go on and's only Week 3 folks, we got a long way to go. The way this defense is playing, 3 points by Jeff Reed might win next week's game.

Anonymous said...

Patrick, you sound like you are channelling Phil Simms....

Dale Lolley said...

Actually, it was Dewayne Washington who ran into the kicker. But your point is well-taken.
I'm not making a big deal of this game. In fact, I picked the Steelers to lose it.
But the defense played great against a good quarterback on the road and they had a chance to win it late into the game.
The sack problems weren't all on the o-line. The QB has to get rid of the ball. The receivers have to beat press coverage. The coordinator needs to change things up.
I would have liked to have seen more of the three tight end package.

Anonymous said...

I remember the game in Baltimore in 2006 being just as bad as this one.

Dave W. in Las Vega$ said...

I guess that the best coaching staff for the Pittsburgh Steelers is in Arizona.I'am sick and tired of Mike Tomlin's tuff guy attitude like he's going to kick somebody's a.. Larry Zierlien is a joke of a line coach...Kevin Colbert is a ex Lion executive = loosers all ... we schould have eight or nine super bowl throphys. Maybe Dan could sell his shares to his younger brother Art at least he has some heart!+ Dale I've been reading you for over three years now and turely enjoy you're fine work thank-you for all the great work that you provide too all of us Steeler faithfull...GO STEELERS !!

Anonymous said...

Yeah...the injury to Hampton may be a bigger injury than if Ben was/is hurt.

I guess you didn't see 2004 when Ben was playing and Hampton was out.

Great insight!

kelly said...

Okay, looks like Parker is out for Monday night, time for the rookie to show his stuff against a tough D and a prime time audience.

Dale, any word on Russell? Did they sign him back to the roster???

Dale Lolley said...

The injury to Hampton is big, genius, because Keisel's already out. Now, they're down two starting defensive linemen getting ready to play a team that has run the ball 90 times in two games.
You think they might have wanted to rotate some linemen in this game to keep guys fresh?
Can't really do that now, can they?
But you're right, losing Hampton is no big deal.

rocket9 said...

Its only one game but it was a DEBACLE. This kind of thing is very, very hard to shake off. The Steelers way is to stick with things and not panic, which is admirable for the most part. But I don't share some commentators idea that this team can bounce back by Monday and put up a Herculean effort against the Ravens pass rush. Jaworski pointed out that they do even more exotic blitzes and disguises/delays than Jim Johnson favours.

If they get rolled again on Monday night, I think it will do enormous damage to their confidence. Not that they have much left anyway after that pathetic and embarassing performance.

Its a very early gut check on Monday and we'll see what they have in reserve. And I don't mean Max Starks...

Anonymous said...

Steelers: Over-rated! Over-rated!