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Monday, November 10, 2008

Indianapolis post-game thoughts

Two shots from the 1 and no touchdown against one of the league's worst run defenses.

It was almost like the Colts knew what was coming.

Oh, that's right, they did. The Steelers ran the same play they did to score two touchdowns in the first half.

© Bruce Arians is taking a lot of heat for his play calling and in previous games it was deserved.

But there was nothing wrong with Sunday's game plan, which called for plenty of short passes and running.

It would have worked if the quarterback hadn't gotten greedy and tried to force a couple of passes.

© Uh oh, I'm criticizing Ben Roethlisberger. Let the name-calling begin.

© That's one touchdown and eight interceptions by Roethlisberger in his past 10 quarters of football.

I know the guy has won a lot here – including a Super Bowl – but he's not playing well right now. There's no sugar-coating it.

And don't give me the, "He has no time to pass," argument. The Colts only had two sacks Sunday on 44 dropbacks. The pass blocking wasn't the problem.

© Willie Parker's got a torn labrum. That'd be a problem if he were a pitcher or quarterback. But they'll have to put a harness on him and he's going to have to play through it.

They could have used him Sunday.

© Could have used Heath Miller, too, particularly down by the goal line.

One of the best ways to attack a Cover-2 is to use the tight end down the middle. Matt Spaeth had some nice grabs Sunday, but he gets nothing after the catch.

© The Steelers may be forced to rush Bryant McFadden back this week with Deshea Townsend going down with a hamstring injury.

© Mike Tomlin said LaMarr Woodley, being a young guy, needs to practice to play.

He would have been a help Sunday, but I don't know that he would have made a difference coming from Peyton Manning's front side.

The Steelers gave Manning fits with their pressure Sunday, forcing him to throw on the move, something he does not do well. But that's about the only thing he doesn't do well.

In the long run, giving Woodley the week off will help. He should be back next week against San Diego, a game that is now a must-win contest.

© Glad to see the Steelers finally found themselves a kick returner.


Patrick said...

I don't know what to say about this game. I'm split. On one hand I feel like this team put on a gutsy effort given the injuries, on the other I feel like there were too many opportunities squandered. Same with Ben, he was obviously coached up to start dropping back quicker and delivering the ball. He played through an injury, mostly well but with 2 terrible and inopportune picks. The receivers dropping passes did not help him again. And if he is throwing 42 times, chances are there isn't a win coming from the game.

The coaches' plan was without a doubt to initially run the ball and it was shut down. The goalline series was terrible, but only from an execution stand point. I can't fault the playcalling for trying to run in that situation.

The key series was when the Steelers got the ball back and were up by three. Why a draw wasn't called on 3-5 is what I question. But that series is what the Steelers have struggled with in this game and the Giants game -putting the nail in the coffin. Instead of 1st downs or a score, there was a turnover that ended up giving the Colts the lead.

Tough loss is all I can say. They need their injured players back soon as Dale mentioned, especially Parker.

adamg said...

It's ridiculous to ask Parker to play through a serious injury. Moore and Davis and Russell are enough if only Tomlin and Arians would go to a run-oriented game plan. I don't think Indy shut down the run, the Steelers just never tried very hard to use the rush game.

Since Tomlin is evidently going to keep starting Ben despite the bad arm and his poor decision-making, maybe the coaches will just have to go back to having him do only one thing - run the play exactly as called. No audible, no calling protections, no involvement in the upcoming game plan. Just correctly run the plays that are called. Ben is playing like a scared rookie and that's how he should be handled right now.

Anonymous said...

Both of Ben's interceptions (excluding the last heave) were on routes run by Santonio Holmes. Wondering if you could make the argument that Holmes missed a route/hot read? Looked a lot like it, especially on the second int.

adamg said...

On the second pick, BR said Holmes ran the right (return)route, but he (BR) misread it. On the first pick, BR said the play was designed to be open right away or no throw, but he threw anyway and admitted he never saw the DB.

I've defended Ben in the past, but no more coddling him. If his arm or thumb limits the throws he can make, then for the good of the team, he should sit himself out for a game or two.

kelly said...

I agree with the thoughts on Ben. As far as the running game, I thought there were enough run plays called but the execution wasn't there. On the 3rd down try on the one there was a huge hole off left tackle, but Moore elected to take straight into the pile AND leave his feet... Very poor decision. I'm not sure why Russell wasn't given some carries, when it was obvious that Moore wasn't effective and not seeing the field well. If for no other reason than to change things up a bit.

A really frustrating game that we never should have lost.

Alex said...

This is starting to remind me of the 06 season when we tried to play Ben hurt. Even if he is medically cleared to play that doesn't mean he anywhere near his best. I think we need to start Leftwhich for a few games while Ben gets healthy. He is hurting the team playing at less that his best.

And Arians sucks.

Anonymous said...

Our 2 best backs are out and our next back is too small to push interior tacklers. The defense is forcing everything inside which is also Big Ben's Weakness when rushed. Combined all that with such poor line play no one has confidence that the guy next to him will do his job. It is a wonder we can score at all. Each point we put up is a testament to just how good Ben is at directing a terrible offense. (Next draft will be an all offense draft)


Dale Lolley said...

Both of those interceptions were on Ben as Adam said. Read my column in today's O-R on the subject if you need more clarification.
There were only a couple of drops, which is to be expected when you put it in the air 42 times, especially on a day like yesterday.
As for Willie, if he's going to play again this year, it's going to be with pain. A torn labrum isn't going to get better overnight. In fact, it will require surgery at some point. I've had one and it hurts, but you can play through it.

Anonymous said...

Ben is, IMO, starting to become like Brett Farve in the sense that if you dare criticize him, you get slammed. He is becoming "St. Ben." Well, those two INTs were on him. The play calling was not too bad, but Ben got greedy and inpatient and made bad throws. The kid needs to get his ego in check and rest his body and let Byron play for a game or two.

Steelers Blogger said...

Plain and simply, Ben is not right. Timid, unsure and scared say it best. The game plan and play calling were fine in my opinion. The last drive was not run well from a quarterback management position. This game was very winnable if the turnovers did not happen. The defense once again was put into tough spots and played great considering. Moore has played great and has gotten some goal line touchdowns, but he is NOT a short yardage back, neither is Willie for that matter. Tomlin should have rested Ben, no matter what Ben said. Ben still has a great future, but needs to get healthy and work on simple mechanics. He has to get the ball out quicker. This is the NFL and Ben needs to understand that the early success he has had is in the past. Every week needs proper preparation and reps in practice.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Ben got greedy...LOL

If he takes a sack Dale then calls him the "one constant" and uses Charlie Batch's 2007 QB rating as an example to absolve the OL.

Please don't steal my money anymore.

Patrick said...

In my opinion, one drop is inexcusable regardless if you throw 100 times. If this team has the attitude that a few drops per 42 passes is ok, then I can see why they can't close out games.

But my point aboiut 42 passes was that with an injured QB, why are you throwing 42 times? It's because the Steelers established no running game. I don't understand why no draws on 3rd and 5's or 2's and why Gary Russell never got a chance. Sure he wasn't great in the past few games but could he have done any worse than Moore who continually got swallowed up after 1 and half yards or less?

I'm not going to say Ben was great, but it wasn't like his passes were all over the field. I think he needs at least 1 game off, which I said last week. Assuming Parker plays next week, I think next week should be Byron #1, Dixon #2 and Ben as emergency. Maybe we can see some tricks with Dixon. I know Dale said that is unlikely, but I think this offense needs some kind of wrinkle (besides a lucky flea flicker) to make them less predictable.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget it was a short week. We played Giants,Was and the Colts. These aren't subpar teams. The Colts had every ball bounce their way. Or should I say tipped.
Our o-lined looked better on pass protection. And our "D" is still nuts. Although 56 was missed, along with BMac. Here to Miller's return in a hurry.

Dale Lolley said...

Please quit making excuses for the quarterback stinking. Your embarrassing yourself anonymous. He was sacked twice in that game. He was hit maybe three times other than that.
The quarterback got greedy in this one and it cost them. He forced a couple of passes that weren't there and it cost them.
To suggest otherwise is, well, simple minded.

Anonymous said...

I think the coaching staff is in a tough situation with #7. He has won, he got the contract, but he is not performing. I was at the game and personally I thought the two interceptions were terrible plays on Ben's behalf. With under 2 minutes in the first half, I like the agressiveness, but hated the forced pass. I agree with trying to move the ball there but take what the defense is willing to give you. However, I think that BR's biggest problem...

Patrick said...

To compare Ben Roethlisberger to Kordell Stewart is simple-minded. Ben made two huge mistakes yesterday, but he was pretty accurate otherwise. With Ben, at least you know you have a chance on 3rd and 8. With Kordell, the only chance you have is the scramble. People need to remember, Ben spent most of Monday in an MRI tube, and missed practice most of the week. He didn't practice a whole lot in the past month to be frank. He's in a slump, but Dale, you're talking like you want him thrown out with the dishwater. Ben's confidence has hit a lowpoint. His injuries have made him tenative back there. he is absolutely unwilling to scramble. That used to be a big part of his game. He probably feels like every hit he takes could end his season. Sit him this week and see if the rest helps.

Dale Lolley said...

I'm not comparing Ben to Kordell.
He's by far a more accomplished quarterback.
But one interception and eight picks in three games are Kordell-like when he was at his worst.
I don't want him thrown out. He's struggling. But he's got to play through it.
Since they're not going to sit him – he's healthy enough to play and they're going to play him – they adjusted the game plan accordingly yesterday. Plenty of runs and short passing.
But he made two critical mistakes at critical moments in the game.

Patrick said...

just an fyi, that "patrick" is not me

Alex said...

The problem is that without a running game we have to rely on our QB to EVERYTHING in this offense. We face 3 and 8 or longer so often we might as well just skip first and second down altogether.

Ben is a good QB, but even a good QB needs a decent running game. We dont have a running game and until we do Ben will struggle and blow games sometimes (and win some, like the Jags game). Eli Manning looks great this year because he is in 3rd and short constantly because the Giants have developed a great offensive line. Maybe we should do the same thing (or should have aboout 2 years ago.)

Dale Lolley said...

That would solve a lot of the problems - if not all of them - Alex.

adamg said...

I think the OL is being unfairly blamed for the current offensive woes. On the radio, either Tunch or Wolfley said the OL wanted to take control of the game when the Steelers got the ball back with about 6 minutes left, but the OC and/or qb decided throwing the ball was a better idea than running it.

I have always heard that running plays give the OL a chance to really get into the game and build up steam, but the Steelers seem to have lost recognition of that.

Alex said...

If our oline wanted to be trusted to win the game by running the ball they should have run the ball better in the first 3 quarters. They allowed one of the worst run d's in the league to beat them. Our oline needs to produce before they open their mouths.

Dale Lolley said...

I would have to agree with Alex. Yeah, the o-line wanted to run the ball. But the running game was averaging 2.5 per carry.
Now maybe they wanted to line up in a power formation – two tight ends and a fullback – and go, rather than going one back. But the running game wasn't working consistently.

adamg said...

I think you have to make a distinction between running the ball in a specific game and running an offense that puts the emphasis on running. The Steelers no longer do the latter and that, IMHO, is why they are unable to do the former.