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Monday, September 21, 2009

Post-Chicago thoughts

The last time the Steelers played in Chicago - in 1995 - they came back forced overtime, winning at Soldier Field for the only time in team history.

It was a game that proved the 1995 Steelers - a great defensive team - had enough juice offensively to be a Super Bowl contender.

Sunday, we saw the Steelers show why this team – which is great offensively and defensively – might not make it again.

For whatever reason, this team just doesn't seem to be able to keep its foot on the pedal offensively.

The Steelers walked down the field with relative ease on their opening possession and were on their way to a second score when Ben Roethlisberger threw a duck of a pass that was picked off by Charles Tillman.

We didn't see a whole lot of offense after that.

Certainly the rain played a factor in that. But the Steelers played plenty of games in horrid conditions last season.

I know Roethlisberger likes leading the Steelers on fourth quarter game-winning drives and the team has plenty of confidence in him doing that, but it's OK to win by 20 sometimes too.

© From the number of e-mails I received this week about my pick of the Bears to win this game, I guess there were a good number of people who didn't believe me when I wrote that the Steelers would have a more difficult time replacing Troy Polamalu than Chicago would replacing Brian Urlacher.

After watching Polamalu's replacement, Tyrone Cater, get beat for both Chicago touchdowns, I wonder if they believe me now.

© Cincinnati went to Green Bay and won on Sunday, making next week's game against the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium a big one.

The winner will move to 2-1 and keep pace with Baltimore.

The loser will be 1-2 and trailing the other and Baltimore.

Trust me when I say that the Steelers can lose that game as well.

Actually, I think the loss Sunday will help refocus this team and the Steelers will win in Cincinnati.

© All the people continuing to trash the offensive line should chill out a little bit. The line played pretty darn well Sunday and Roethlisberger had plenty of time to throw.

This team still can't run the ball when opponents know they're going to run it, though.


Anonymous said...

"Sunday, we saw the Steelers show why this team – which is great offensively and defensively – might not make it again."

I agreed but to me the most important reason is that other teams have found a way to attack this defense.

They will quit running the ball and stop trying 5 or 7 steps QB drops passes to their WR. Instead they will do screens, short crossing routes to RB and TE, short slants, roll the QB for comeback routes, spread the defense and attack the middle with TE or slot WR, and if everything else is not there just take the 3 or 4 automatic yards from the cushion our DB give the WR constantly. Just throw the ball fast and live to fight another down. Harrison and Woodley just can’t get there in time.

They won't be successful all the time, but it will work 3 or 4 times during a game for 17 to 24 point, and with the inconsistency of our offence should be enough to have a chance to win.

At least this has been the game plan the last three games and has worked.

Our defense will be great but I don't think it will be close to last year. Hence, on less the offence steps up, there will be no repeating.

Patrick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick said...

this game had several problems and they are all easy to spot really.

To me the biggest problem, and the most correctable IMO, is the ego this team has. What the hell were the coaches/BR thinking going for the endzone one 3rd and 2? I don't ever want to take points off the board, and a TD probbaly ends it, but you would almost rather convert for the 1st then score and waste clock in that situation. Almost.

This team looked arrogant in the 4th quarter, seeming to say "You can't beat us, we're the SB champs and we score at will in these situations."

Unfortunately, it didn't happen, but the playcalling there shouldn't be for the endzone. I almost think Holmes was suprised the ball was even coming his way and didn't get his hands up quick enough. But I'm not making excuses for him in that play.

The Wallace play enough people will talk about.

Like most, I was dissappointed in the 2nd half effort.

Anyway, its one game and its early. Eerily similar to the Philly game last year. Like Dale said, hopefully this is a refocus game for them and they come out swinging next week.

adamg said...

The Steeler defense always concedes the short pass and has for years. LeBeau's philosophy is a team can't consistently dink and dunk it's way down the field.

Anonymous said...

last year the steelers offense had great difficulty scoring. (Fans said because the schedule was so tough) At least 5 games I can remember (super bowl being one of them) the defense had to score a TD in order for the team to win. You can not rely on your defense or even ST to score points to win in the NFL on a sustainable basis. I feel like the steelers may lose alot of close games this year unless something changes.

Alot of excuse makers commented last week that the reason the offense only managed 13 points against the titans was because they are such a good D. I noticed the Texans had no problem scoring multiple times against the titans yesterday. Steelers D is good eneough to go a long way even without Troy . . .but the offense must start scoring consistently in the 20s or even with the "easy" schedule this year they will not win the division.

Part of the problem is the wild inconsistencies of the o-line. Another problem I see is that Ben is not accurate throwing the long ball to open receivers.

Anonymous said...

any team starting Tyrone Carter on Defense along with a moron like Bruce Arians running the Offense has a good chance to lose any game they play

Anonymous said...

Thinking Arians (OC hired by Rooneys/Tomlin, winner of Superbowl) is a moron tells a lot about you.

Anonymous said...

Arians should be fired- I can't believe he missed 2 field goals inside the 45, dropped a TD pass, and couldn't cover Knox. Hey don't let the actual game get in the way of trashing Arians.

Anonymous said...

"Thinking Arians (OC hired by Rooneys/Tomlin, winner of Superbowl) is a moron tells a lot about you."

You pretending there is nothing wrong with Arians tells a lot about your lack of knowledge

Anonymous said...

The offensive problems continue for the steelers. For the most part attention has been deflected from this fact by the late game heroics of Ben (which are remarkable). But this is not a new problem. The offense doesn't score alot of points.

Anonymous said...

half agree.

The Offense is off track, and it falls on the skill positions. 13 pointslast week, 14 this week?, not going anywhere at that pace. And don't start this quality opponents BS, CHI is not a great Def team and the Texans just lit up the Titans at Nashville. IS Straub better than Ben, no, but he has better receivers and better RBs to work with - the OLs are about the same.

Defense played well, even without Troy. Held Cutler to two TDs? any other team this year that holds CHI to two TDs will walk away with a win. But where are the sacks and TOs?

marc said...

the line did do better. kudos to them for taking a step in the right direction.

but, obviously our coaches are not confident enough in short yardage situations yet. would have been nice to just grind out that 3rd and 2 and run the clock down for the game winning field goal. assuming we made it!

every game will have its share of mistakes. the most troubling here is our inconsistent offense. with troy out, we need to put more points on the board.

also, very good point made earlier that the titan's defense got smoked by houston. kinda puts our offense into perspective, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

I would have liked to see more Mendenhall in the game. He had a really nice series and was not heard from again. Not going to dwell on this loss too long, tough one next week against a divisional opponent. I hope you're right, Dale. Let's roll the bungles.

Anonymous said...

Holmes and his multiple drops was the goat. The only passes he caught were body catches. He needs to get a good pair of gloves if he can't catch a wet ball.

Anonymous said...

This was the first Steeler loss since the last season against Tennessee...relax people. They rushed for over 100 yards (as a team) and Ben threw for over 2 hundred yards with a TD pass and a run. If Reed hadn't missed 2 FG's we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

I agree things could be better but it's early and this was a good wakeup call. Dale is right, this loss will cause the Steelers to play with focus and determination next week and hopefully put this thing to rest.

As for Bruce Arians, I admit I haven't been a big fan of his but this game was lost on the penalties, dropped passes and missed field goals that the players committed. BA called a pretty good game, cut him some slack.

DC in ATL said...

Is Hartwig giving away the snap count at times? On multiple occasions yesterday, it appeared that he would take a quick look down, and then snap his head back up right before he would snap the ball.

I can't say he does it all the time, but I can't recall him making this head movement and NOT snapping the ball. It would seem this would give the defense an advantage against our line if this is the case, or if something else (like Big Ben's cadence at the line of scrimmage) is happening.

Am I the only one seeing this?

As to the game...when we're 12-4 at the end of the season, everyone will forget about this one.

Thomas said...

I agree with you DC to ATL. There was definitely something that the Bears D saw that allowed them to predict the snap. It seemed like almost every snap the Bears D had a great jump.

datruth4life said...

Dale, do you think Ty Carter's leg injury could give Dick LeBeau a convenient excuse to have S Ryan Mundy or CB/S Keiwan Ratliff start at strong safety against the Bengals this week.

I think both have better speed than Carter, although Mundy is short on experience. However, I think a good compromise could be Ratliff. That would get more speed and playmaking ability in the base 3-4 D and allow Ty to go back to his familiar role in the nickel where he can just play 2-deep on third downs.

Ratliff is a proven playmaker and would be a better stopgap at SS than Carter. Plus, it'd be like having an extra corner in the game with your base D and he has the versatility to play in the box.

Getting Ratliff and Timmons back in the starting lineup might be an improvement in the pass D (although I think K. Fox is a better run-stopper than Timmons) that could keep Carson Palmer from shredding this D, which he has done in the past. Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

The game was lost by sloppy play. They cannot blame it all on Reed. Holmes dropped his share of crucial passes. Cutler seemed to thrive off of all the blitzing. And Polamalu was missed.

Anonymous said...

datruth - they'd be better off with Ratliff at FS and move Clark to SS.

before everyone freaks out 'omg they cant move Clark', Clark has played SS before with Wash.

datruth4life said...

Anonymous, I'd keep Carter at free safety. I'd want him free to lay the lumber on WR's Ocho Cinco and Henry coming over the middle. And I wouldn't want to make 2 switches in the secondary when you can just make one and improve.

I saw where LeBeau had Ratliff playing near the line of scrimmage a lot during the preseason in sub pkgs. He's started in the NFL before and made some plays. I think his coverage and playmaking ability would be very beneficial to this D against the Bengals.

datruth4life said...

Oops, I meant to say Ryan Clark at free safety, Ratliff starting at SS and Ty Carter to the bench for sub pkgs only.

Anonymous said...

Bruce Arians is a Super Bowl-winning OC.

Mitch Berger is a Super Bowl-winning punter.

We apparently have a bad offense again this year. Looks good in spurts, but is inconsistent and can't, you know, score points very often, which is why we're in so many close games, some of which we will lose.

Anonymous said...

Our offense is ranked 28th in scoring and 27th in rusging yet people still think Bruce Arians is a good O-coordinator?

HACK said...

Speaking of can't run when the opponent knows they are going to run....does Arians know his name is Frank the Tank...and not Frank the Telegraph?.....Every time but one...when Frank comes into the game...its a run right up the gut.....the one time it wasnt...TD Spaeth.

Patrick said...

agreed with Hack. Besides the formations, the playcalling was very predictable. Run on 1st, pass on 2nd and 3rd.

Sloppy game all around. Yesterday I didn't think the Loss was deserved. Today I think the opposite. How many goddamn penalties on returns do we need before that stops?

All those things lead to a close lose like this.

kelly said...

Anyone ever think BA is trying to sabotage the run game so he can pass all over the place? I know, I know, it's ridiculous, but our running attack is remarkably predictable.

Very frustrating.

Anonymous said...

No way is this team ready for the Ravens or any other playoff caliber team with all of the predictable play calling from the O C. The line coach and the offensive quality control coordinator need to work with and improve the play of this offensive line as a group overall! With out those two key adjustments it's going to be a very long season and endanger the health of the quarterback.Dave W. in Las Vegas.

Viz-Burgh said...

Fairly poor effort by many of the guys yesterday including (but not limited to) Jeff Reed, Holmes, Ben, Ty Carter, William Gay, and Ike Taylor. So while Reed is the obvious goat, there's plenty of blame to go around in this one.

Put me in the group that wants Ryan Clark at SS & DeShea Townsend at FS. I go with him over Ratliff because he knows the defense inside and out. Ty Carter's speed deficiency was very costly yesterday & even his big hits don't dismiss that. A quicker safety would have had a chance to get an INT on Olson's sideline catch.

The O-Line certainly looked better yesterday, but between the rain & the field Ben couldn't accurately hit guys and there were drops and poor decisions by receivers. This team just couldn't get it together.

This was game 2 of a 16 game season. Trying to say who can go to the Super Bowl after two weeks is nearly impossible since teams will change & evolve over the year. I will say that this weekend's game is suddenly even more important than it was before yesterday & now this team knows that they're not doing enough to pull out wins let alone to win convincingly. Hopefully the wake up call works & we can put a solid team on the field for the game in Cincy.

other_patrick said...

@HACK -- telegraph line is hysterical.

I was very happy to see them pass from the 3 backs look. maybe use this package on 3rd down and mix it up?

My take on Carter:

Ty Carter's biggest weakness is his dirt slow reaction time.

One or two plays before he layed out that TE there was a receiver with the ball coming towards him and he basically stayed where he was and let the guy close the yards downfield before tackling him.

Very similar to the Jax playoff loss w/Gerrard.

Seing as he's a passing game liability I'd much rather have Deshea or Ratliff filling in and rely on the front 7 to keep the run in check.

Anonymous said...

lots of discussion about defense and this just being one game. But.

We are third from the bottom in scoring, ahead of cleveland, st louis, and whatever....all powerhouses.

Yeah its only been 2 games, but this looks really bad. The execution by RBs in both games have been horrible. I'm sorry but FWP turned a 60 yard gain into a 12yarder because he couldn't get around a defender who was standing flat footed in front of him. WRs yesterday - not good. little seperation in general and holmes dropped way too many.

they need to consider Mendy full time and possibly even using Moore as a 3rd WR at times in place of sweed/wallace. We need some play makers.

does this sound desparate? lol.

Anonymous said...

Any idea why after Mendenhal had a
39 yard run midway though the 3rd quarter, after a 13 yard reception two plays ealier, He never saw the field again?

Dale Lolley said...

They're rotating Mendenhall in with Parker. He plays every third series. Parker gets the other two. Moore is playing on third downs and when they're in the hurry-up. That's the rotation Tomlin is sticking with for now.

I'd look for any reason I could to get Carter off the field, but that's me. This spring, I didn't think he'd make this team, but nobody pushed him.
Cinci is not a team that's going to hurt them with their tight ends, so they may be OK with Carter. But San Diego has a pretty good tight end, if I'm not mistaken.

ch3 said...

Dale, why did we not see the no huddle?

Anonymous said...

I really wish Mendenhall had shown me something new, but he didn't.

I wasn't as down on him as others were, because I still saw a big, fast back with good vision, burst, and agility.

But I was hoping to see some strength, some power running, and I didn't. At the end of his long run, a much smaller defensive back knocks him clean over.

It reminded me of at least one play from his "highlight" reel where a small DB comes over and hits him and Mendy goes right down.

Is it me or shouldn't Mendenhall lean in and hit that guy? He's gotta have 30 pounds and a ton of muscle on him. The elite backs in this league break that tackle -- Mendenhall didn't.

And having gone back and watched his college highlights with fresh eyes, I'm even more worried. When I watched after we drafted him, I saw a big back making great cuts with good vision. Now, it's noticeable how few times he hits somebody, and how often he goes right down when someone hits him.

I guess I'll be happy if Mendenhall turns into nothing more than a slower FWP with better vision and cutting ability, but while others are high on him after this game I am not. I really hope he shows something because he has all the other pieces and good attitude, but it seems like he simply doesn't play up to his size and won't prove worth a 1st round pick.

Mizou said...

Is Hartwig giving away the snap count at times? On multiple occasions yesterday, it appeared that he would take a quick look down, and then snap his head back up right before he would snap the ball.

I can't say he does it all the time, but I can't recall him making this head movement and NOT snapping the ball. It would seem this would give the defense an advantage against our line if this is the case, or if something else (like Big Ben's cadence at the line of scrimmage) is happening.

This has been something discussed in the past with Hartwig, Mahan, and even Hartings. If you go back and watch the 2005 Superbowl DVDs, you'll see Hartings do the exact same head-bob movement before the snap.

I believe this is actually an intentional movement and is part of the silent snap count (recall, we were on the road in this game, and most teams go silent count on the road). The fact that all three of our past centers have done it and it hasn't been changed would indicate to me that it's intentional. I suppose giving the defense a split second warning as to when the snap is is seen as better than the multitude of false start and other procedure penalties we avoid by going silent count.

ch3 said...

Mizou, that is true. The head bob is the silent count. I remember reading that somewhere.

Big Time said...

you mention the duck pass that was picked but was it fails to mention how ben was hit across the face by a bears lineman. Shoulda been 15 yds and a 1st down. If the refs are going to call what they did on harrions they have to do the same...refs get worse in the NFL every consistent.

Greg Mercer said...

Ben is the only star QB who doesn't get the roughing the passer call. it's BS.

Patrick said...

If I was a ref, any QB that fights and never gives up I'd have a hard time calling roughing the passer on too. Its not usually a situation where Ben is just sitting there getting decked. It does happen sometimes and isn't called though. But a lot of times he brings it on himself.

After watching the replay of the game on the NFL Network, a few things should be clarified.

One, the 3rd and 2 pass seemed to be a deep play all the way, designed for that. I guess the thinking was going for 2-4 yards is so obvious, this will fool them. Its not much different than 2 years ago when Denver had the worst run D in the league and they came out passing against them. And I was wrong, Holmes was definitely expecting that ball - play seemed designed for him.

lazy play by him, gets your hands up.

2nd, anyone complaining about Mendenhall finishing is wrong. On the ridiculous pass play, he not only gave one stif arm, he gave another damn near out of bounds. The long run, he tried to out run the guy, couldn't, didn't try to cut back and had a late and poor stiff arm.

My point is, those mistakes are mostly technique and inexperience - not really heart or will like some of you are framing it to be. Some guys do "have it" sooner, but come on, the guy has barely played in the NFL. I still think he is going to be good. He is also very young.

If Cedric Benson can turn it around....

marc said...

i wathced the replay on nfl network too. i was very impressed with how well we picked up some of the blitzes. i wish they could do that more consistently week in and week out. also, moore is excellent at picking up the blitzing LB's.

i am not impressed with Gay. he was out of position many times during that game.

Dale, how are the coaches rating Gay's performance so far this year?


keevin said...

yeah I also thought Gay's coverage was weak

any work on Ty Carter's injury? could be a blessing in disguise, he is an awful player

Dale Lolley said...

Carter's not expected to practice Wednesday - I'll see later how that goes - but is expected to play.

Don't know why they didn't no-huddle - maybe I'll delve into that today as well - it could have been the weather conditions. It drizzled off and on from the second quarter on.

Gay has been fine. He's doing what they're asking of him, playing the run, coming up and making the tackles. That footing was difficult Sunday.

kelly said...

How about Holmes? I read that he was wearing a 'cast' on his left wrist, but was not listed on the injury report. How is he doing?

Dale Lolley said...

He was shooting pool in the locker room today with nothing on the wrist. I haven't been out to practice yet, so we'll see.

Anonymous said...

"Don't know why they didn't no-huddle - maybe I'll delve into that today as well - it could have been the weather conditions. It drizzled off and on from the second quarter on.

Gay has been fine. He's doing what they're asking of him, playing the run, coming up and making the tackles. That footing was difficult Sunday."

Any idea why Arians went away from the short, quick horizontal passing game then. It worked so well the first drive and a half. Then he decided to start working the mid and deep range stuff about the same time the rain kicked in. The field was slippery enough, but after that the DBs couldn't plant and break on the ball without slipping. Chicago seemed to understand the field conditions and worked in a ton of short drops and passes and it got them going. I just didn't get it.