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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Post Tennesee thoughts

The final score was 31-14, but this game was much closer than that.

Four turnovers to none will do that.

© I know Ben Roethlisberger said he was going to go into this game loose after the Steelers clinched the division title and a bye in the first round of the playoffs but I didn't realize he meant he was going to be loose with the football.

© Chris Kemoeatu had an awful game. Ike Taylor too.

© Mitch Berger actually had a good game, for those of you keeping track.

That was one positive to take out of this one.

© The Titans were pressing the Pittsburgh receivers a lot to take away the short passes that had been working so well in recent weeks. That opened some stuff up downfield, but it also caused Roethlisberger to get sacked and pressured on three-step drops because his primary reads were covered.

© Stomping on Terrible Towels is really a meaningless act, but you can bet Mike Tomlin will use it as a motivational tool the next time these teams meet - in about a month.

Yes, the Steelers and Titans will meet in the AFC Championship - unless Baltimore goes to Tennessee and beats the Titans.

© Tomlin said he will play the Browns next week as a regular game.

The guess here, though, is that he'll play it more like a preseason game. Once the Steelers get up 21 or so points - roughly three minutes into the second quarter - he'll start pulling some key starters.


Anonymous said...
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Patrick said...

No one likes a loss, and this could end up being semi big with the team travelling to Tennesse for the AFCCG, but the more bothersome thing is how they lost it.

They very much looked like a team that was content with 3 demanding victories in a row and not ready to give 110% to beat the Titans. Some people have mentioned that maybe they didn't want to show too much on Defense in case they meet again? That seemed likely with the way they played and the pressure, but I don't know, doesn't sound like a Tomlin or Lebeau strategy to me.

But that's about all I have to say. If you lose the regular season one and win the playoff one, no one seems to remember the lose.

But I'm a little scared to see what that Dline will do with Haynesowrth and Vanden Bosch in the lineup.....

Dale Lolley said...

All I know is that they went to Indianapolis in 2005 for a good beating in the regular season. Dick LeBeau took that game, digested it and came back with a game plan designed especially to beat the Colts.

Patrick said...

Dale, no doubt about that, maybe that is the plan for this team.

Not to worried about the lose, just seems like a very winnable game that they let go again.

A resembelence of a running game would do a lot for this team. It's a shame about Mendenhall, he would have had a lot of opportunity this year.

Ben said...

Dale, do you think we'll begin to see Willie phased out of the running game next year? For whatever reason - whether it's Parker's fault or not - he's not getting it done. Moore seems to have some field-vision that Willie just doesn't possess.

I know Willie had two back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons, and put up great numbers, but I some of them can be misleading. 1200 yards is great, but it doesn't mean a thing if you're getting stuffed behind the line half the time. A 40 yard run looks great, and certainly is exciting, but when it's surrounded by 5 runs that net 2 yards, it becomes difficult to control the clock -- something that is essential to winning, Steeler football.

I like Willie. He's done some great things here, and he's overcome incredible adversity. He should be very proud of his accomplishments, and he is a truly great free agent pick up. But he's been getting by on his speed for too long. He doesn't follow his blockers -- he just barrels full speed into the line, generally bouncing off of Kemoeatu's butt. Did you see the cut Chris Johnson made on Ike Taylor? When's the last time you saw Willie make a move like that?

I know it looks like I'm just getting down on Willie because he's having a subpar, injury plagued season. But really, I've had these concerns for a while. I had hoped some experience would help him overcome his shortcomings, but at 27, he doesn't have a lot of good years left -- especially as a speed back. I just don't think he's a complete back. I think he would be a great guy to have around as a homerun hitter. I just hope Mendenhall is healthy next year and ready to pound the rock -- and that he's worthy of his first round pick.

adamg said...

I know he's a professional athlete and gets paid well for what he does, but I really feel sorry for Parker. He's 200lbs, has a bad shoulder and knee, yet is asked game after game to smash into the line with no lead blocker and expected to move a mass of humanity like he's Jerome Bettis.
He needs help in the backfield yet the OC insists that two TEs, one whom can hardly block can open holes just the same. Madden said the exact same thing last night on SNF, he hates the one back on short yards and that the TB needs a FB/blocking back in that case.

If BA doesn't want a FB, then go back to old pro set with two RBS split behind the QB where both have an equal chance to carry the ball and each can block for the other.

I agree about LeBeau, if and when the teams meet again, he'll have the defense ready.

kyle said...

dale, can we use your connections to pass along a petition to have the delay draw run removed from the playbook? by my count it worked once and that was all Moore. that play is infuriating. i count this as the second, maybe third loss that is completely on Ben. that balances against two or three that he completely won himself. with any luck the winning ben will show up for the playoffs.

Junior3 said...

AMEN to what Kyle wrote above!! The delayed draw is the ugliest play in Bruce Arians's playbook...and that's saying something!

Dale Lolley said...

Willie had a good season last year in this same system. The difference this year is that he has had sub-par blocking. He's not a guy who's going to break a lot of tackles and he doesn't have great vision. Moore does have better vision, but he doesn't have the top-end speed that Parker does.
Kemoeatu was awful Sunday. I think he punched his ticket out of here. I don't see them re-signing him. Too inconsistent.

Iron Mike Wagner said...

Kemo's worst game this season IMO, overshadowed only by Colon's abysmal play. I pull for Colon but yesterday he was just horrid. While Willie may not have made the most of his chances I can't put failure on him when three guys are there to tackle him as soon as he's handed the ball.

Ben seemed shaken & uncertain early and often, pumping the ball about three times on every pass play. Didn't look like he was comfortable sliding out of the pocket & didn't make good choices when faced with any amount of pressure.

This team is not a favorite to win it all IMO. With how poorly our offense has performed we've needed a defense of historical proportions just to eek out wins week after week. Any letdown by the D and our chances are between slim and none of pulling a win out. Unless the OL and offense as a whole can really pull it together over the next three weeks it'll be another signature Steeler exit from the playoffs.

BTW - while you call stomping the Towel "meaningless," I know the fans don't feel that way & I doubt the players do. Just look at how many times the players mentioned TJ Hoosyermama wiping his shoes with it back in '05. And they didn't just mention it that year - it was motivation for years to come.

Ben said...

Willie, statistically, had a great year last year. The problem is, we can't run out the clock with him as our feature back. The lack of Bettis-esque RB cost us the Jets game and the Jags playoff game. They were wrapped up, but we couldn't control the clock. Those are just two, big games off the top of my head, I'm 100% certain there were more.

Anonymous said...

Dale, how will the O adjust when playing the titans again . . . this time with their 2 starting d linemen? The answer is: they can't adjust because they don't have the physical skills. The O is below average period

Iron Mike Wagner said...

Adding to what Ben just said above, Arians's offense uses the pass to set up the run. In December weather that's not as much of a threat. Without being able to control the line of scrimmage & run clock you can't put games away nearly as easily. I know that's Arians's scheme & he's made personnel decisions to fit that, but it's really hard to watch Pittsburgh not be able to get one yard when they need it - and we've all seen that far too often this season. Even Bettis would have a really hard time gaining yardage with the blocking schemes being used. All this after hearing Tomlin's proclamation in the offseason that he wanted this team to be able to run the ball with power to salt games away.

Dale Lolley said...

Let's get one thing straight here, Arians doesn't make personnel decisions. He may have some input, but ultimately, Tomlin and Colbert make the personnel decisions. And even within that, there are disagreements. Last year, some in the front office thought Starks was one of their five best offensive linemen. The coaching staff felt otherwise.

The Steelers had nearly 400 yards of offense. The moved the ball well. But there was a turnover at the 1, an interception at the Tennessee 17. And two others are midfield.
Tennessee took away a lot of the short passing game, hence Ben holding the ball on three-step drops.
They can adjust to that.
Could they run the ball? No. But they haven't really run it well all season, that's nothing new.
This offense needs only to put 17 to 24 points on the board to win, sometimes less. But it also can't turn the ball over four times.

ch3 said...

Dale, what is the feeling in the locker room about the offense? As we all know, the performance of the offense, especially the offensive line, has been very poor. With the way the defense has played, pretty much all year, is there any animosity growing? How do the offensive players feel about Arians?

Dale Lolley said...

I don't see any animosity between the offense and defense. There has been some grousing by the linemen and running backs about the lack of running and the way they run it. Some of it has been on the record - ie. Willie Parker a couple of weeks ago, Willie and Carey Davis to me a couple of weeks before that - but off the record, they haven't been happy with this direction.

Anonymous said...

When is the last time the steelers o scored 24 points?

If they can adjust to the titans D press coverage then why didn't they do it at halftime?

Anonymous said...

We can't forget the schedule this team has played! Strongest schedule in the HISTORY of the NFL. At the beginig of the seasonwe were talking about the need to at least go 8-8! We have to cut these guys some slack. Yeah it was a bad game, but they played REALLY strong against Dallas, New England, Baltimore. Thos are some big games.

Anonymous said...

Dale, do you have any info on the unsportsmanlike conduct before the FG attempt that gave the Titans a first down and eventual TD? The replay didn't show anything.

kelly said...

We finally put Marvel on IR and signed Capizzi off of the Rams PS.

Dale Lolley said...

The penalty was assessed to James Harrison, but I talked to somebody who was on the field and they said it was actually Chris Hoke who the officials said simulated the snap - saying "hut, hut, hut."

I'm going to ask Hoke about it Wednesday.

adamg said...

Dale, on the radio Tunch or Wolf said the number ended with a "6" which would include Hoke, #76.

Dale Lolley said...

Wolf was the one who told me the refs said something six was simulating the snap.
I asked him because I knew he was on the field, but I didn't get to talk to him until we were on the plane.