Sunday, October 26, 2008

Thoughts on the Giants

Who would have thought the one player the Steelers seemingly couldn't replace was long-snapper Greg Warren?

It seems amazing to me that the Steelers couldn't have just sent one of their two centers out to snap the ball 10 to 12 yards back to punter Mitch Berger. They could have even lined up and quickly pooched a punt.

But the Steelers were worried about the Giants putting an all-out rush on and blocking the kick.

I would think an NFL team would have a better plan in place than to throw a guy on the field to snap who's never done it in an NFL or college game before.

That was the case with linebacker James Harrison and it showed.

© That play didn't lose this game for the Steelers, but it certainly gave the Giants a boost.

New York had 17 total yards in the third quarter and Eli Manning looked rattled.

© Santonio Holmes would have made a difference in this game. His teammates were saying all the right things about Holmes after the game, but they can't be happy that he got himself arrested for possession of marijuana Thursday.

Head coach Mike Tomlin made the right decision in sitting Holmes down for this one, even if it did help cost the Steelers a win.

You can't let that kind of stuff happen with some form of discipline.

Next thing you know, you've got Plaxico Burress on your hands.

© Giants head coach Tom Coughlin sat Burress in the first quarter of Sunday's game after he skipped a rehab session on his injured shoulder.

Burress, who had already been suspended for a game this season for missing a practice and not calling to tell anyone, wasn't a factor, cathing three passes for 15 yards.

© The Steelers' run defense is the best I've seen in a long time, maybe ever.

Baltimore has had some good run defenses over the years, as has Tennessee. And the Steelers have always been very good against the run in the 16 years I've covered them.

But the Giants were averaging 5.7 yards per carry coming into this one and averaged 2.4 a carry Sunday.

That's outstanding.

© The Steelers' goal-line stand in the second quarter was tremendous if you like smash-mouth football. And who doesn't like smash-mouth football?

© In the grand scheme of things, this loss won't hurt the Steelers all that much.

Heading into this four-game stretch of games against the Giants, Redskins, Colts and Chargers, I figured if the Steelers split them, they'd be OK.

That would put the Steelers at 7-3 with Cincinnati coming to town the following week.

Losing the first game in that stretch makes next week's game at Washington interesting, but the Steelers' three games after that are at Heinz Field and I just don't see them losing any of those three, unless, of course, they lose another long snapper.

28 comments:

Patrick said...

I honestly didn't think overall the Steelers played all that bad, but they certaintly didn't execute when they needed to. The D was great until Clark left and they exploited that almost immediately with the pass to Toomer. I know there was 5 sacks, but the o-line held up good against a great pass rush.

This one is on Ben and the coaches. Ben has to stop thinking eventually someone is going to get open. He has to learn to find his escape route, tuck it and run out of bounds, or throw it away.

Tomlin and company, well to put it bluntly, I don't like them. I remember a few years ago Cowher saying Heath Miller could long snap, which made me question why Warren was even using a roster spot, but you don't want your starting TE long snapping I suppose, BUT how does Tomlin not know this and not have a back up plan for a long snapper?

Bruce Arians, I can't even get into. He is very stubborn in his game plans and when someone has a good D plan against it, we are a blundering offense. He has abolustely no wit or intent to make adjustments.

Its too bad, because this team could be GREAT, instead we blow games like this and waste great efforts from the D.

Alex said...

The lack of a backup plan for the long snapper was embarassing to the coaching staff. Its their job to be ready should any player go down but they had no answers for greg Warren getting hurt.

When I heard James Harrison was long snapping for us I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Anonymous said...

Del
What's the news on Clark. Remember last year. This could be vey bad.

Mohammad said...

I think the D did all they could tonight. This loss should be pinned on Ben and the O-line. Not having Holmes in the 4th quarter hurt too. Can anyone tell me that we were better not having Holmes in there catching those 15-yarders that keeps drives alive? Chalk this up as a learning experience for the coaches, finding out that ALL positions should have a solid backup. But in reality, can you tell me that all of the other 31 coaches in the NFL have a plan for that? Unfortunately, we were the one to make an example. Hopefully we can be back on track next week against Washington. Go Steelers!

BoJangles said...

I heard Clark broke his arm. I really hope that's not true. And if so, is Anthony Smith ready to step up Dale? Or will Ty Carter be assuming his role?

adamg said...

Tomlin said in the post-game comments Clark had a dislocated shoulder that had already been put back in place, I'm guessing he'll miss a game or two.

I couldn't agree more with patrick about BR and Arians. OK, I get it that Ben is a gunslinger and never wants to give up on a play, but for every amazing play he makes like the one against Jax to Ward on 3rd and 18, there are too many other sacks and bad decisions trying to force a throw into double coverage or whatnot.

I did not get the play-calling after Warren got hurt when the Steelers had the ball at their own 20, either. Why not go for 3-4 yd gainers and move the ball instead of trying for 10-15 yd passes? You have a completely unproven long snapper and a punter with a bum plant leg, hello?

Also, what is the role of Matt Spaeth in the offense? Why not start practicing splitting him out like Balt does with Todd Heap? BR is always crying about having a tall WR and Spaeth is 6'7". IIRC, Essex started life as a TE and he certainly could be the 2nd TE and he'd be a better blocker to boot.

I don't have much quarrel with the OL yesterday. I think they did a good job in pass protection. On the post-game radio, Wolfley said Tuck was crying to the refs all game about being held and finally got them to make that critical holding call, which I thought was on the cheesy side, on Colon. If that's true, then shame on the official.

The defense did play a great game, though.

datruth4life said...

Dale,

I agree with you that having James Harrison long-snap is beyond odd. I thought either Justin Hartwig or D. Stapleton would have been the back-up long-snappers. I wonder if Kendall was a backup long-snapper before he got hurt. Anyway, I think Tomlin & company learned a very valuable lesson about preparation, a costly one at that.

OK, so who is down against the Skins and who do you expect to be called up? I expect S Ryan Clark to be out this week, which means they'll have to call up a safety so they'll have eight on game day. They will sign a long snapper & place Warren on IR. I'm thinking they'll bring in the guy they brought to training camp the past two years (Retofsky, I think, or something like that).

What about the punter, M. Berger's hamstring? I don't expect a 35-year-old punter to be 100 percent in a week's time. Will the team be forced to resign P Paul Edinger for a few weeks?

Dale, I'm ready to turn the page on Najeh Davenport as my kickoff returner. He had a couple of serious openings yesterday, but didn't have the speed to get there. I'm willing to give that rookie on the practice squad a shot, or put Santonio Holmes back there. And why is Dallas Baker holding a roster spot?

This loss wasn't as disappointing as the loss to Philly. But Ben and this OL haven't proved yet that they can consistently handle the blitz. Until they do, teams will keep bringing it. Tomlin needs to talk to his QB and say for the sake of our struggling OL and offense, please throw the ball away some more.

Dale, how do you think the OL played overall? It seemed that D. Stapleton & Hartwig had decent games. W. Colon had a lot of brain farts & Starks seemed like he played reasonably well, though he let Kiwanuka go free on one blitz where he blocked down instead of kicking out. It seems that Chris K. is having a lot of problems in pass protection.

Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

In response to having one of the Centers double as a long snapper:

Someone on a messageboard I frequent was at the game and noted that after Warren went down, they had Farrior, Harrison, and Stapleton practicing long snapping on the sideline (Fox also showed us a shot of Farrior practicing again later on). Apparently Harrison was the most consistent during those impromptu sessions and was sent out.

In Harrison's defense, the snap wasn't all that bad. Nice spiral, good distance. It just went high (he was obviously scared of skipping it on the ground and getting the punt blocked). If he goes out there again, guaranteed that snap is good. Just first-time jitters that are usually gotten over in something like preseason.

Also, in Tomlin's defense, how many teams have legitimate plans at backup LS? Probably some guys who do a few during camp, but nothing concrete. I think they did the best they could in the situation; grab a couple guys who've done it before or are willing to try, see who does it best, and send them out there and pray.

Anonymous said...

Dale,

From a game management standpoint, I think Tomlin has a way to go. I thought the 4th & 4 with Timeouts with about 3 minutes to go was a mistake, could have punted & played field position. Not having a trustworthy #2 longsnapper active, especially for punts, is a mistake (has to hit a 5 foot window). I don't see him winning games by making gametime decisions like I see other coaches do.

I do give him credit for getting his team ready to play though. He always has the Steelers fired up. Amazing goalline stand.

How does the secondary injury situation look. Clark out, Townsend not healthy, when is McFadden back, Taylor banged up? With that, how bad are the special teams injuries with Berger & Warren?

adamg said...

Tomlin stated Warren has a torn ACL. He's done for the season.

Anonymous said...

Steelers: Over-rated! Can't beat the good teams.

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't think the Giants' defense is being given any credit here. They pressured Ben and that o line like mad. The O line had 5 and the G Men were bringing 6 or whatever. Ben was holding the ball too long and I am sorry, that was a hold on Colon when that TD was called back. It also didn't help when you have playcalling as bad as Arians'. Horrible. Predictable. Arians and BR want to go deep. Can't always do that. Got to go to the hot reads and your checkdowns. Lots of people want to blame this loss on Santonio. Did Santonio screw up? Yes. So did Plaxico and the Giants WON without him, for one game (against the Seahawks) and for part of yesterday's game. That is why I do not entirely buy that "We didn't have Santonio." line.

Dale Lolley said...

Sorry guys, I thought I answered these questons earlier, but it must not have entered.

Tomlin said that long snapping and shotgun snapping a decidedly different. I don't agree. The shotgun snap is seven or so yards. They had Berger at 12 for Harrison's snap. Not much of a difference.

I thought the offensive line played reasonably well for the first three quarters. Fourth quarter was bad.

I talked to Clark after the game, he said he hopes to play next week. Shoulder popped out of the socket. He said they popped it back in, ala Lethal Weapon. I'm sure it's sore today, but the game is a week away. He may be able to go.

The Giants defense is good. But at home, you're supposed to neutralize that.

I didn't see that game as the Giants winning it as much as the Steelers losing it. It was a superior defensive effort by the Steelers, but the injuries caught up with them.

adamg said...

Dale,

Seriously, is there a better role for Spaeth? He was the Mackey Award winner in college so he can catch. Is there a reason the coaches won't split him out wide? He'd create big mismatches in the secondary. Essex or Starks could fill the "blocking TE" role.

I agree Colon put a minor grab on Tuck, but I also saw a play where the center/guard had Hampton's upper body bent back - like one might wrestle a bull to the ground and no call was made. And then there was the Giant who blocked one of the Steeler DL/LB in the back and then sat on him and no call was made. My point is, I don't think Colon's hold was any worse than either of those non-calls.

Dale Lolley said...

I saw Harrison get drug down a couple of times as well, but the penalty for the hit on Moore was pretty bad. The hit was brutal, but it looked legal to me.

As for Spaeth, they've never thrown a lot to the second tight end. Just be glad they throw to the No. 1.

Anonymous said...

Please tell me where Mike Tomlin is more qualified to be the head coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers than Russ Grimm ?The owerniship stinks we schould of interviewd Mike Singletery to comply with the ROONEY RULE!!!Now he just might be a real head coach..

Patrick said...

Dale,

Colon and his offisdes, holding calls and blatantly blown blocks make me wonder if he could be in jeopardy of losing his job if/when Marvel gets healthy. Starks moves in at RT , Marvel at LT obviously and Colon can wonder on the bench why he's offsides at HOME so much.

He killed that one drive where we moved the ball but somehow went backwards.

Dale Lolley said...

Maybe you could tell me how Tomlin's not qualified to be head coach?
Come on, that's ridiculous.

They're not benching Colon.

adamg said...

Dale, that was clearly a helmet-to-
helmet hit on Moore and just as clearly he was defenseless as he was being tackled from behind/beside by another Giants player and the ball was already out of play.

I guess my question with Spaeth is then why even keep him AND a third TE around? They might just as well play McHugh who is a better blocker anyway and use the 3rd TE roster spot to shore up another position. This really makes me think Arians and Tomlin are not on the same page. (I noticed pass happy Kevin Gilbride runs the NY offense the way Coughlin wants it, NOT the way he would like it to be.)

Big Joe Polka Show said...

Thought the Steelers were having success with the no huddle, only to abandon it once again.

Screamed at the TV when we went for it on 4th & 4 early in Q4 instead of kicking a long field goal. Reed is kicking better than ever and has proven he can make those, and the Giants hadn't done anything in Q3 (-4 yards?), AND it would have put Pgh up by 8.

All in all, a tough game the Steelers should have won against the defending champs, but with Santonio out, awesome Giants lines, and Spagnolo (aka Jim Johnson Jr), the stars were aligned against the Steelers this week. I do think the Steelers o-line will improve as the season goes on. Now if Ben could get rid of the ball only HALF the time he ought to...

Love how so many critics of Tomlin never fail to mention the Rooney Rule...folks, he's 15-8 and just lost to the 6-1 defending SB champs...relax, it's a long regular season and then it's also a brand new season once the playoffs start. I saw the Giants lose to Minnesota at the Meadowlands last year, when Eli threw four interceptions, three of which were run back for touchdowns...Tavaris Jackson looked like Joe Montana in that game...it's a long season, okay?

Anonymous said...

can we trade Santonio Holmes and Bruce Arians for 1 of the Giants O-linemen and Kevin Gilbride?

ch3 said...

Dale, are we ever going to see a good kick or punt return this year? A big return sure would have helped in a game like Sundays. Our return game is terrible. We have a powerback and a fullback as our kick returners!

Dale Lolley said...

They didn't kick the field goal because of the long snapper situation. Snaps on placement kicks have to be right on the money, especially for a 49-yard field goal, which is what that would have been.
They had to go for it in that situation.

I could have understood if they had called the hit on Moore helmet to helmet. They didn't. They said the penalty was because the hit was on a defenseless receiver.

I agree about the kick returns.

kelly said...

I think everyone is in agreement on the kick returns. We scare nobody with our returners, yet every week we come up against a possible game breaking returner... It's embarrassing. There's got to be someone that can fill the role better than two power backs. I know Ike used to do it, but I can see not using him, especially with our current injuries in the secondary. Any chance that little dude we signed recently gets a shot? Can Vincent return kicks? How about Lewis?

I still think we should have kept Reid on the roster... Baker hasn't done anything. Not that he can't, but he hasn't so far and at least Reid is a KR option.

datruth4life said...

Dale,

Would you consider letting S. Holmes return kickoffs as well as punts (at least until W. Parker comes back, then you can let M. Moore return to his regular punt returning role)?

Also, why is Dallas Baker taking up a roster spot if he isn't doing anything? If he can't even produce more than Limas Sweed, who isn't ready, then maybe the team should try one of the practice squad guys, especially the return specialist, J. Foster.

Thoughts?

Patrick said...

Tomlin still has not won a big game yet with the Steelers. When have we beat a good team in the past 2 years?

Tomlin isn't in the realm of Scott Linehan, but to me, he has done nothing impressive yet.

Dale Lolley said...

What's a big game, Patrick, other than a playoff game?
He's 0-1 in those.
They shut out Seattle last season. Seattle was a division champion. They won at Jacksonville this season. I still think Jacksonville is a playoff-caliber team. Don't give me the stuff about Cleveland beating them as well. Cleveland was everyone's pick to win the division.

I don't see them bringing up the kid off the practice squad to return kickoffs. Moore will likely go back to doing that once Parker returns.

That's the problem with going out and getting big receivers. They're generally not return guys.

Patrick said...

yesterday was a big game and they got stuffed.

NE last year (yeh yeh they were undefeated)

Both Jax games, lost.

We've beaten Cleveland, Cinci, Jax and Baltimore. 3 are in our division so yes important games and nice wins, but the Steelers haven't made a statement with Tomlin yet, they haven't beaten close to the top tier.

If you want to be 13-3, 12-4,,you have to beat top teams. Tomlin hasn't showed he can yet.

This week is a great chance, on the road, primtime against a big time NFC team. Time to prove something.