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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesday Tomlin

Brett Keisel will again try to return this week from his sprained MCL and has a pretty good shot of being ready to play at Tennessee.

That would leave the Steelers with just one starter out from the lineup they began the season with - Marvel Smith.

His back injury remains the same.

But Max Starks has played well in his absence, justifying the team's decision to put the transition tag on him in the offseason, despite a $7 million salary that came with it.

Not too many people complaining about that now.

Lost in the win was the fact the offensive line held up pretty well last week against a very good Baltimore defense.

The Steelers didn't move the ball great throughout the game, but they only had a couple of three-and-outs and those came at the beginning of the second half.

© Tomlin again refused to say what he would have done on fourth and goal at the end of the game against the Ravens. I don't blame him. It serves no purpose.

Though I was told they were preparing to go for it.

Had Santonio Holmes not been ruled in the end zone, the ball would have been placed at the one-inch line. I'm guessing Ben Roethlisberger gets into the end zone in that situation on a sneak.

© Tomlin brought up the fact that Kerry Collins has only been sacked seven times and thrown seven interceptions this season. That's all well and good, but he's also only thrown 11 touchdown passes.

Teams aren't going to beat the Steelers running the ball. Collins is going to have to beat them through the air.


adamg said...

Dale, let me point out the play of Casey Hampton to this point in the season. I know the loss of Aaron Smith might have played a role, but last year, the Big Snack was being moved around like a 360+lb of sack of potatoes. This year, though, he looks fresh and strong. As much as Balt tried to bash the middle of the line with their big backs, Hampton wasn't being moved out of there. I even saw on a replay of another play, Hampton dropping back into pass coverage and being step and step with the receiver he was assigned.

I know there was a lot of yowling about "letting Casey be Casey" at the beginning of camp, but Tomlin making him get his weight down and be in better shape has made all the difference in his play this year as opposed to last year, IMHO.

Anonymous said...


Don't forget the loss of Simmons. The OL may not be good (or even average) but we are deep.

THanks for the blog. Terrific stuff.

Ben said...

Dale, is there any way you can justify Suggs making the Pro Bowl over Woodley? Freeney over Smith? Welker over Ward? I know I can't.

Woodley is having a much better season than Suggs. This is his break-out year, and he's doing it in a big way.

Smith is a game-changer. He's absolutely essential to the success of the #1 ACROSS THE BOARD defense. In a 3-4, he's putting up arguably better numbers than Freeney. 24 tackles is a joke for a defensive end.

Welker has just 200 more yards than Hines, but 4 fewer touchdowns. Hines is having a heck of a season. It's a shame no one recognizes it.

I know the Pro Bowl is essentially a meaningless popularity contest. I know players like Aaron Smith care much more about Super Bowls than Pro Bowls. But it'd just be nice to get some national recognition for our star players.

adamg said...

I, too, was non-plussed by those Pro Bowl selections. I can't beleive Aaron Smith is by-passed year after year. I think Casey Hampton also deserved a spot and agree about Hines Ward. IIRC, the last tough catch Wes Welker tried to make, Ryan Clark knocked him out of the game into the middle of next week. When was the last time you saw that happen to Ward?

And Jeff Reed losing out to Gotkowski is another joke.

No matter how much hype Ed Reed gets, I'll remember him falling on his butt, untouched, while Nate Washington ran by him for a first down on the game-winning drive.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Smith should have made it. Overlooked again. I thought Hampton would make it also.

Dale Lolley said...

Smith has been overlooked throughout his career. He doesn't get 10 sacks per season, but do nothing else, like some guys. He's an every down lineman and probably the best run-stuffing defensive lineman in the league.

I'd have probably picked Welker over Ward, but it's close.

Woodley should be going, but first-year starters seldom do.

At the end of the day, they'll take a Super Bowl win over Pro Bowls.

Dale Lolley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
adamg said...

Knowing how the Steelers like to play with a chip on their shoulders, the Pro Bowl snubs ought to serve that cause nicely.

Patrick said...

The Pro Bowl is a joke, I never understood why people get obsessed with it. It's a nice award and recognition for some players and does Aaron Smith deserve it? Sure, but he knows fully well that 3-4 DE will rarely make it.

I slightly disagree with Collins having to go through the air to win this won. The Steelers have been great against the run, but a few games now, guys have gotten yards, McClain and Choice both did. The Titans have 2 horses and if anybody can run against the Steelers, its them. I think it will be interesting to see. But if they are shut down, then yes obviously Collins will have to do it in the air.

I think it'll be another close one.

Dale Lolley said...

McClain got yards because they didn't care when they ran it. They ran on 3rd and 8, 3rd and 15. They didn't want the rookie exposed.
He never broke off a long one and really didn't hurt them.
Choice got some yards because they were more concerned with the pass than the run. Same thing against NE. They broke a couple of runs against the nickel by pinching down with a double team on Aaron Smith.

I don't think their run defense is slowing down at all. If you're willing to look at the possibility of a 3rd and 9 after two runs, go ahead and run it twice in a row. Most teams aren't willing to do that.

Patrick said...

thats fair, but 80 yards rushing is 80 yards rushing no matter how you frame it

You just seem convinced that the Titans can't run on the Steelers, I'm not 100% sold on that. I think the game revolves more on if they can do that, then what Kerry Collins can bring, I feel like Collins production is more predictable than what the Titans running game will do.

Ben said...

The Steelers defense hasn't let me down yet, and I don't think they will on Sunday.

I don't believe the Titans will run on the Steelers. I don't think its possible. Collins will be forced to throw. I don't see how that can possibly end well for them. Harrison and Woodley will be teeing off on him all day, Polamalu could very well grab #8 on the year. If the offense plays mistake-free football, the Steelers win.

Fact is, this is one of the best defenses the league has seen in the last 20 years. The best we've seen in Pittsburgh since the Steel Curtain -- better than Blitzburgh '94.

I think, as long as the offense can hold it together, they can win any game. Including the Super Bowl.

adamg said...

I agree this defense is the best since the 70s. To me, the Blitzburgh defense was more smoke and mirrors than anything. Those blitzes covered for spotty talent. This defense is has the talent and the scheme. Just look at how Polomalu has been used this year. He's not having to play up in the box as a LB and is now a true center fielder on defense all because of the talent at LB. Just having him as a full time DB makes the secondary that much better.

Anonymous said...

I thought Baltimore's run game did it's job. It's true they never broke anything big, but they were efficient with it, particularly McClain. Baltimore only had 1 run on 3rd down. That was near midfield on their second drive, they thought they could catch them with a nickel run like Dallas and NE. It was stuffed, and they never tried it again. Which was odd, because McClain isn't the guy you want there, although McGahee did prove what a liability he was on 3rd down later in the game.

All of Baltimore's manageable 3rd down situations (3rd and 4<)were set up by consecutive 1st and 2nd down runs. Only 3 of their 10 long 3rd down situations were set up with consecutive runs. The other 7 of 10 were set up by incomplete pass, sack, or penalty. It wasn't the running game that let Baltimore down, it was their rookie QB. Baltimore was 4 of 14 converting 3rd D's. One was converted by a Flacco scramble. Flacco, not the running game, set up his own poor 3rd down situations. Then he failed to convert on most of them.

kelly said...

I just read in the Post that Clark was seen on crutches?? Any idea what this is all about Dale??