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Friday, November 21, 2008

Post-Cincinnati thoughts

Paul Ernster, we barely knew ya.

When I asked Mike Tomlin about the aforementioned Ernster following Thursday's 27-10 victory over the Bengals, the look he shot me could have cut glass.

The Steelers are playing championship defense and their coverage units have been pretty darn good throughout the season.

But you can't average less than 30 yards per punt against good teams and win.

The Steelers will begin the tryout process for a new punter this weekend.

© The team hosted its portion of the punt, pass and kick before Sunday's win against San Diego. Here's betting the 13 and 14-year-old winner booted the ball more than 30 yards - and I'm talking about the girls champion.

© The Bengals came out with short, quick passes to negate the Steelers' pass rush and it worked for a series.

But Dick LeBeau isn't Dick LeBeau for no reason.

He turned up the pressure at just the right time to make Cincinnati quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick feel like he had less time to pass than he did

It was perfect.

The Steelers had better get used to seeing that kind of attack. There's no way opponents are going to allow LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison to have free shots at their quarterback on a play-to-play basis.

This team is impossible to run against and if your quarterback gets on a bit of a roll, the only way to move the ball consistently is to throw those three and four-yard passes and hope somebody misses a tackle.

© Cincinnati's defense is playing better, but the Steelers have to be a bit concerned that their running game produced little in the first half.

People - myself included - have been clamouring for this team to run the ball more. They tried against the Bengals and spent two quarters banging their collective head against the wall before it finally opened up.

© Willie Parker left the game in the third quarter after tweaking his knee - the same one that caused him to miss four games - but it's not considered serious.

Brett Keisel's knee injury in the fourth quarter, however, could be a little more serious - though we won't know for sure for a few days.

© The Steelers have put themselves into good position entering their toughest stretch of the season. Three of the next four are on the road, with the only home game being against the Cowboys.

The Steelers have to travel to New England, Baltimore and Tennessee.

If they can go 2-2 in that stretch, it will say a lot about this team's chances in the postseason.


Patrick said...

quick thoughts:

-Ben is lucky there wasn't a few picks in this game. But what I noticed, and I've said before I'm a fundamentals/basic technique person, is that these throws did not have the usual "zing or speed". I don't know if that is the shoulder, footwork, or just poor throws, but he keeps throwing 7 yard passes with no mustards and no doubt about it, you'll see picks.
-Sean McHugh is playing better fullback than Carey Davis right now. Maybe I'm mistaken but after Chris K destroyed the defender, Davis ran right over him again while he was on the ground. Why? Go downfield and get to the next level. With a guy like Parker, thats the difference between a big gain and endzone. McHugh made a few really nice blocks.
-We don't know what Mendenhall would brought to the table, but this team sure could use more of a downhill runner, maybe Russell will begin to get more touches besides his short yardage and return work. Which has been excellent
-Bruce Arians didn't call a good game. He called a GREAT game. I'm not a big fan of his and been more than critical of him, but give credit where credit is due and he was on point tonight. A good and random mix of run and pass and the screens were called at perfect times. He also has Ben playing better lately with his short, efficient throw schemes. Sometimes he is a head scratcher, but I'm realizing he has done some good things.

Stigmata said...

Let's hope Keisel's injury isn't season ending...knee injuries never look good.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with Patrick that Russell needs to get more work. He looks like the type of back to gain the tough inside yards... Parker and Moore are just not built for that kind of game, and in wintry conditions on bad fields, that's a big part of playing winning football.

Is Mitch Berger healed up yet?

Anonymous said...

Welcome back BIG BEN! He need that game, he used his legs to get the first down and then again for the T.D. I think he has been scared up to this point and it couldn't have happened at a better time. Confidence is huge for the Q.B. and I think he just got his back.

Anonymous said...

Chris Collinsworthless actually gave the Steelers some props. I couldn't believe my ears last night! I still can't stand him though.

Anonymous said...

I am worried about Keisel too. You could tell he knew it was bad, and I do not want to lose him for season.

Anonymous said...

I am happy I am not the only one who thought Arians called a good game last night. A good mix of run and pass and like Patrick said, good use of screens (one got blown up though). I havn't seen the steelers use the screen that effectively since the Whis days. Run was not there early and Parker looked hesitant, but props to the coaching staff for sticking with the run. The Bengals got worn down at the end of the game and the Steelers ran well in the 4th quarter to put away the game. They also did well on 3rd and 4th and shorts again, just like last week. I think the offense is slowly getting better. They only need to be average for us to beat any team in the league because the D is SB caliber.

Dale Lolley said...

I haven't heard anything about Keisel yet, but everybody I talked to said it didn't look good.

rocket9 said...

I concur with the comment on Ben's throws lacking velocity. He should have had at least 2 more picks in this game. But overall, he played a really great game and Arians was , dare I say it?, masterful with the play calling. Reminded me of Whisenhunt's best games where everything seemed to click.

Ben can still summon up some mustard when he needs it but I am sure that arm won't be fully healthy until the offseason.

Overall, I don't think they have the horses along the o-line to win more than a playoff game. It's a shame, given the caliber of the D they have on the field this year which is the best I have seen since the early 90`s.

Oh well. stranger things have happened. It would be great if they could run the ball a little better..utilize all the backs like the Giants are doing. IF FWP can stay healthy and Moore continues his all around great play..perhaps Russell fulfilling the short yardage role (I believe he can do more than just that but he's no. 3 in the pecking order)..we have our own three headed monster.

The injuries are starting to really bother me though. Keisel and FWP this week along with a concussion for S.Holmes..Just can't seem to shake them..

Yet another fascinating year for the Steelers.. Who knows what's going to happen?

Anonymous said...

Heard Keisel is out four weeks.

steelguy said...


I haven't seen the O-line addressed much. When one of our O-line goes down Trai Essex comes in. What is depth like after that? Is Hills next in line, or is it that guy off the PS?

What can you tell us about Hills or that other guy? It's hard to tell in practice, but has Hills improved at all? The office seems pretty confident with their backups despite the fact that we have had 2 O-line guys go out in a game this season. Is there a reason for this (are they confident in backups?), or is there just too much hurt on the roster to do anything about it?

Dale Lolley said...

The next guy after that is Jeremy Parquet, a guy who's kicked around the league for a few years. Nothing special.
There's not a whole lot they can do at this point. That's why they haven't put Marvel on the DL. They're holding out hope he can come back.