Wednesday, May 13, 2009

So what's on your noodle?

No much going on right now until OTAs start back up, so I'll take a page out of my deceased friend Myron Cope's book and ask what's on your noodle?

36 comments:

kyle said...

are you going to be writing a post about the biggest camp battles coming up? other than urbik/stapleton and some other depth chart stuff, it seems like the return game is going to be a big one. by my count they have about seven guys competing.

steeler fan from the 70s said...

What's on my noodle? Let's see. Maybe you can answer these philosophical type questions since we won't be able to tell who can play until the pads go on.

- What are the Steelers trying to accomplish long term with their offensive line blocking scheme? It seemed that I read about them moving towards a ZBS (zone blocking scheme) when Zierlein became the OL coach. But most of their linemen are slow footed maulers, including newly drafted Urbik. Foster fits this profile as well.

- Was David Johnson brought in to play an H-back type role (ie, compete against Mchugh) or more of an inline blocker (compete against Spaeth, who has really disappointed me with his blocking abilities).

- Was Keenan Lewis drafted with any intention of being moved to FS?

- What is the probability that Max will sign a long term extension? Do the Steelers like him enough to give him enough guaranteed money which will convince Max to sign?

- Was Jarron Gilbert on their draft board? I thought that the Steelers might take him at 2.64, since we could have used more than 1 DL to groom behind Smith (33) and Keisel (31). (Similar to when the team selected LB Timmons and Woodley back to back rounds in 2007). But obviously they decided to trade back instead. I know we drafted Harris in the 6th round, but he's likely a longshot.

- What are the realistic hopes of the braintrust with regards to Bruce Davis and Tony Hills going forward, considering that they showed very little promise last year, even in training camp (at least according to what I heard and read) and the preseason?

- No matter how successful someone is, they change with experience. On that note, how has Tomlin changed any of his philosophies since he first became head coach two years ago.

- Maybe related to the above question, it seems that this year's draft class was specifically need based. Last year, many of the draft picks were not necessarily need based (Mendenhall, Sweed, Davis, Dixon). Coincidence? Change in philosophy?

- Will Dan Rooney's new ambassadorship (is that a word?)change how the Steelers are run?

- Will the new ownership restructuring limit available cashflow and therefore change how the Steelers approach resigning players.

I know that those were a lot of questions. I appreciate whatever insight you can provide/glean.

Anonymous said...

With Gary Russell gone, who other than Frank (the Tank) Summers will compete for the short yardage back position? This is a weakness that sorely needs to be addressed, and it would appear to be alot of faith invested in an untested rookie.

Anonymous said...

How many carries do you think Mendenhall gets vs. Tenn, assuming everyone is healthy?

Anonymous said...

I hope the Pens win tonight...

jk_nj said...

This is going to a great year to be a Steeler fan. It's hard not to like this team coming off the SB win. O-line can only improve and I think Sweed is going to become a big-time player. I don't care about his drops, every rookie WR gets a pass in year one and Sweed is a huge target that has proven he can get open. If you look at Mendenhall's work last year, there's reason to be excited at his return. Throw in a much easier schedule and you've got another 12-4 season and a deep playoff run.

As an older fan who has always had a preference for the players from the 70s, the Steelers from these mid-2000 teams are, in my mind, the first Steelers to approach the legendary status of those immortals. Thirty years from now we'll be talking about Roethlisberger, Ward, Holmes, & Polamalu like we do Bradshaw, Swann, Stallworth, and Lambert. Maybe even moreso.

These are the good old days folks, and with Roethlisberger being only 27, there should be a lot more to come.

Anonymous said...

I don't care for the term "Short yardage back" is there such a thing. Can a guy come in cold and be really effective? I know some would say that the BUS was a S.Y.B. but this guy was a pro and wasn't always a S.Y.B. Only at the end of his career. For the TANK to be effective he is going to need more playing time than 3 n 1. Just my noodle thinking.
Zeke

datruth4life said...

Dale,

My noodle is full of OL thoughts right now. How do you think the OL is shaping up for this year? Who do you think the starters will be, who do you think will be the 9 or 10 OL that this team will keep and does rookie free agent OT Ramon Foster have more than a good chance to make this roster?

I personally feel that for this line to take a step fwd, either Jason Capizzi or Tony Hills have to step up and fill that RT spot. Willie Colon is just not a good NFL right tackle.

Any chance that Essex could win that RG battle with Stapleton to begin the season and then have Urbik in there before the end of the season.

I'd like to see this OL in there from left to right: LT M. Starks, LG Chris K., C J. Hartwig, RG W. Colon, & RT J. Capizzi. If this year's OL plays better, this offense could be very explosive.

People are sleeping on what M. Wallace, a healthy Mendenhall and The Tank can bring to this offense.

Thoughts?

Joe said...

I too want to know the answer to this one.

- Was Jarron Gilbert on their draft board? I thought that the Steelers might take him at 2.64, since we could have used more than 1 DL to groom behind Smith (33) and Keisel (31). (Similar to when the team selected LB Timmons and Woodley back to back rounds in 2007). But obviously they decided to trade back instead. I know we drafted Harris in the 6th round, but he's likely a longshot.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see your projected 53 man roster. You seem to have a better understanding of the team, even more than the fans on Steelers.com. Your insight here might lead to a good debate. Maybe make a notation for the following:

Has a roster spot
Must win a roster spot

Maybe include your last 5 on the team and last 5 off.

Anonymous said...

- Who do you see having a head start for the kick returner and punt returner roles?

- Does the arrival of TE David Johnson and RB/FB Frank Summers mean that the jobs of Sean McHugh and Carey Davis are in jeopardy?

- With Colon and Starks on one year deals, does the team have little choice but to plan on starting newcomers at the OT positions after this season? Do Tony Hills and Ramon Foster have a legit chance to develop into starters? Will Kraig Urbik be an option at RT?

- Does Deshea Townsend or Ryan Mundy pose a threat to Tyrone Carter's job as a backup safety? Who is best suited to play FS should Ryan Clark get injured?

- Out of Patrick Bailey, Arnold Harrison, Andre Frazier, Tom Korte, Andrew Schantz and Donovan Woods, who is best suited to fill the final backup OLB and ILB spots (assuming Fox and Davis are the other backup OLB and ILB)? I'm guessing Frazier and Woods at this point, but I'd like to hear your thoughts.

- Are there any early prospects for the upcoming supplemental draft?

- Now that Foote is gone, which player is the most tradeable for the Steelers should a trade possibility arise? Deshea Townsend? Dallas Baker? Sean McHugh? And what position, if any, would the Steelers seek to bolster through a trade later this Summer?

Thanks!

Dave from Kensington, MD

Dale Lolley said...

Wow. So many questions, but that's a good thing. I'll get to as many as I can here.

In terms of positional battles, I want to see how Urbik handles the OTAs, picking things up, before I pencil him in as immediate competition for Stapleton. But that was the idea when they drafted him. Essex could also push there.

They've added a number of return options - as opposed to previous years – so it's too early to say who the frontrunner is there. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say it won't be Mendenhall returning kicks and Holmes/Moore returning punts. They got too many other guys who are capable of doing those things now for those guys to keep those jobs.

I think they do have a bunch of big, mauler types on the offensive line now - with Stapleton being the exception. Those guys are easier to find, thus lending themselves to a zone scheme.

David Johnson will be tried in that McHugh blocking role. He's likely a practice squad guy this year, but you're right, Spaeth struggles with his blocking. He's just too tall and can't get underneath anyone.

Keenan Lewis was taken as a cornerback who could add safety depth as well. He runs way too well to pigeon hole him as a safety. He's certainly built like one, though.

Gilbert was on their board, but with the selection of Hood, they had already used one high pick on the position. They had other obvious needs to address. And, yes, this draft was about needs after taking luxury items in 2008.

Dan Rooney's new position won't change how the Steelers are run. Art will still consult his father on major decisions, just as Dan did with his father when he took over. He'd be a fool not to. And he's no fool.

Mendenhall will get a lot of the short-yardage carries unless he proves he can't do it. But the addition of Summers and Johnson are attempts to replace Davis an McHugh. They have to beat the veterans out, however.

I don't forsee any trades, Dave. The Steelers aren't a big trading team - in fact, they don't happen often in the NFL, period. The Steelers have good depth, but not to the point where they can deal it.

Tony Hills has to develop into a capable backup before he can be talked about in a starter's role. Ramon Foster has his work cut out for him to make this team, but they do like him a lot.

I honestly haven't seen any changes in Mike Tomlin's philosophy to this point. I'm sure he's learned some things with clock management and such, but his demeanor and things like that are the same.

As for some of the other questions, give me a week or two at training camp and I'll be better able to answer them. Anything now would only be a guess. As Mike Tomlin likes to say, football, right now, is in shorts. And football isn't played in shorts.

Anonymous said...

Shouldn't someone have noticed that Matt Spaeth was an aweful blocker and too tall to excell in that role? Why did we waste a third round pick on a guy who can't accomplish what a waiver wire guy can do for nothing?

I hate the Spaeth pick, I hate the Bruce Davis pick, no pick from this draft class really bugs me like those two though.

Joe said...

Do you think that if the Steelers had the draft to do over again they would have taken Unger at the end of the first round and Gilbert at the end of the second? Of course hindsight is always 20/20...

Anonymous said...

If Spaeth can be a pass-catching TE & Davis can spell Woodley and Harrison from time to time while contributing heavily to special teams, I won't hate those picks. Those roles are legit ones on any team, including the Steelers.

In particular, if Spaeth can be productive as a pass-catching TE, the two TE set becomes a versatile weapon for the team.

As far as guys who were left on the board way too long in this draft, Xavier Fulton, Jamon Meredith and Mike Mickens jump out at me (not to mention a handful of QBs.) Were these three anywhere on the Steelers draft board? Were they passed over because of earlier picks by the Steelers?

Dave from Kensington, MD

bruinmann77 said...

Dale Love you and Jim Wexell work on the Steelers insider.
I have a few questions.
with the Steelers not drafting any tackles in this year draft do the steelers think they can sign either Starks or Colon Long Term.
Do the have faith The Either Hills or Capizzi might have a future and can they both Play either tackle spot.What realistic shot does Jason have making this team.

I was also curious could they look at a veteran OL like Jones or Runyan if healthy.

What position can u see the steelers adding a veteran before camp any Names?

Do you think we see Dennis Dixon on the field this season and can he take over te #2 spot.

Does Shaun Mcdonald have a chance making the final roster?

datruth4life said...

Dale,

Like the format of this chat more than the others. Maybe you should consider switching it to this style.

Two sleepers who I think have a chance of making this squad are OT Jason Capizzi and DE Jordan Reffert. Capizzi, who can play LT & RT, could be that swing lineman if Essex wins that RG starting spot or just provide depth.

Reffert to me looked like a big kid with some athleticism and a motor in the preseason. If he can beat out Nick Eason, the I can see the Steelers keeping Reffert as young depth on the DL.

Dale, any chance that Mundy and Roy Lewis knock Tyrone Carter off the roster at safety?

Dale Lolley said...

I think Ty Carter could very well be on his way out. We'll see though.

Capizzi may have a shot. Reffett is working against numbers.

McDonald has a shot to make this roster if they're not sold on the young guys stepping up into the No. 3 role.

I don't see them signing a veteran offensive lineman. Essex, at this point, is better than the two guys you mentioned. IF they sign anyone, it will be an inside linebacker.

As for Spaeth, I've watched games of him in college and he was good sealing off the end in a primarily running offense.

As for the Unger-Gilbert thing, no. They were happy to get Hood. They would have been ecstatic had they been able to trade up in the second and get Hood-Unger. Gilbert was a hit-miss prospect.

Anonymous said...

Using a two 3rd round picks on guys who will never be more than backups is a good strategy? That is ridiculous. You look for future starters with 3rd round picks. Career backups are the guys you take in the later rounds.

steeler fan from the 70s said...

Thanks Dale

With respect to your comment about it being easier to find mauler types, I thought a ZBS needed more quick footed linemen. I associate slow footed mauler types with more of a power scheme.

Anonymous said...

Do we have reliable information about what trades were offered to the Steelers before/during/after the draft?

Dave from Kensington, MD

datruth4life said...

Anonymous,

Who says that Wallace, Urbik and K. Lewis won't be starters for this team in the future? This trade allowed the Steelers to get 4 players it wanted out of the first 96 picks in the draft. I think K. Colbert and the Steelers made out pretty good in this deal.

I think WR M. Wallace will turn out to be one of the gems from this draft for the Steelers. I believe he and Santonio will be the starters at WR when Ward finally retires. Enjoy the big plays on returns and 3rd downs that he will bring this time when the season starts.

Anonymous said...

When I said that third round picks should be used on players who can start I was referring to the stupidity of the idea that using a third round pick on a te and lber that are NEVER going to start is stupid. (ie our picks on Bruce Davis and Matt Spaeth were idiotic)

Anonymous said...

I would think Steeler fans would know better than to make statements like this about Spaeth and Davis.

The Spaeth pick is insurance. If Miller walks away after this year, we at least have a receiving TE who knows the system already here.

The Davis pick, well if we could not have resigned Harrison might have looked a whole lot better. For those who say, but he didn't do anything in his first year, you should know better. Timmons didn't either. The switch from 4-3 DE to 3-4 OLB is a hard switch, add in the defense as a whole and it is even harder. If the kid plays 30 snaps a game, giving Harrison AND Woodley about 15 snaps a game each off AND makes an impact on the field, you will rethink this statement.

Dale Lolley said...

I never said the third-round guys wouldn't be starters eventually. They aren't being counted on to start right away. Big difference.

As for Davis, the jury remains out. He could be a starter at some point. Harrison's not going to go forever.

Who knows, if Miller goes unsigned, Spaeth could be the starter. He's capable as a receiver.

other_patrick said...

Dale,

What's your opinion of Carey Davis's job security?

I'm of the opinion that the team will carry 1 pure FB on the 53 man roster.

Is the competition between Davis and Powdrell or is Tank Summers in the mix there as well?

TO follow up with fan from the 70's comment, The lighter, quicker guys are zone blocking guys in my understanding as well. Maybe you have a typo in your response?

I tend to view the team as a power/man blocking team that does employ zone blocking from time to time. The draftees and even the players who the team had in to visit would indicate that the FO is interested in road graders

other_patrick said...

Dale,

What's your opinion of Carey Davis's job security?

I'm of the opinion that the team will carry 1 pure FB on the 53 man roster.

Is the competition between Davis and Powdrell or is Tank Summers in the mix there as well?

TO follow up with fan from the 70's comment, The lighter, quicker guys are zone blocking guys in my understanding as well. Maybe you have a typo in your response?

I tend to view the team as a power/man blocking team that does employ zone blocking from time to time. The draftees and even the players who the team had in to visit would indicate that the FO is interested in road graders

cajunyankee said...

Dale, Have loved this site for several years now, my 1st response. Like many others I'm really looking forward to camp battles. Some others I'm curious about is who do you think will replace foote? How many RBs do we keep (5 ?) and your prediction of you they will be.

Last point I'd like you to respond to. It seems we are building our defense personnel who can fit into the 4-3 system more easily than years past. I know we actually play the 4-3 style about 25% of the downs and with Tomlins experience with the Tampa-2 do you see us returning to a predominately 4-3 scheme in a year or two. When LeBeau leaves,dare I think of it,, who replaces him? My thoughts are Keith Butler.

Thanks,
Cajun-

Anonymous said...

Dale,

I already left a question about the depth chart, but I wanted to sort of follow that path to another item - the 2010 draft. Looking at the roster, where do you see potential weaknesses or areas we might try to address in next year's draft?

Anonymous said...

My noodle:

The Bengals and Ravens will be playoff-caliber teams next year.

I don't care that Foote's gone.

How did we win the Super Bowl with that O-line?

Ben will have a big stat year in 2009.

We will be one of the best teams in the league again, but will we again be able to have that "it" factor (chemistry, whatever you want to call it) that wins the close games, makes a little luck for itself, overcomes injuries, etc., that we need to repeat? 2009 is not 2008.

Patrick said...

Dale, (or Dave, since that seems to be popular lately)

any chance the Steelers would be interested in Wendell Bryant?

PFT had a nice story on him. Hes prototypical 3-4 end size and seems to have developed into a good character guy. He's only 27.

Of course he also has proved next to nothing and is a bit of a risk. But with the depth we have there, why not?

Sherm said...

Dale,

I know that Art Rooney has been running day-to-day operations for some time now but with Dan Rooneys diminishing role I was wondering about Art and the long term future of the Steelers. One of the characteristics of Art Sr and Dan has been the way they relate to people, particularly the way their players seem to respect them. Do you believe Art Jr possesses this common touch which seems to be one of the hallmarks of the Steelers? Also, are ther Rooney ballboys in training looking towards the next generation?

Dale Lolley said...

I think Art is growing into it. He's not as outgoing personally as his father, but he's not a cardboard cutout either.
I can't recall any Rooneys serving as ballboys recently, but I don't pay close attention to the ballboys.

I don't see the Steelers being interested in Wendell Bryant. He had positive drug tests in college and that continued into his playing days. They also don't have a need on the defensive line right now.

I see the lines needing to be addressed again in next year's draft, with an emphasis on the offensive line. An inside linebacker. They also always seem to have a need for CBs. Safety could also be a possibility with Ryan Clark's impending free agency.

As for a switch to a 4-3, no, I don't see it. Timmons isn't a 4-3 inside backer. Everyone else is now switching to 3-4s because of the success the Steelers and others have had with it. Why would they switch?

Patrick said...

I really think Timmons is more of a 4-3 OLB honestly. Didn't Derrick Brooks play that position? Thats who Timmons reminds me of.

He does well as the 3-4 swing back on passing downs. We'll see what happens at ILB. I think he'll be fine, but he would be better in a 4-3.

Dale Lolley said...

I think he'll be just fine in the 3-4. He's a run and chase linebacker who would fit as a weak side guy in a 4-3. Farrior played the weak side in a 4-3 with the Jets. He made the transition inside just fine. They are very similar players.

datruth4life said...

Dale, with the NFL announcing today that its salary cap per team will increase from an earlier anticipated amount this season of $123 million to a figure at $128 million, do you think that will allow the Steelers to get a few more deals done?

Also, who do you think the Steelers will extend before the season begins and who do you think will have to play the year out?