Sunday, October 11, 2009

Post-Detroit thoughts

It was a little more difficult than expected, but a win is a win.

And the fact that the defense came up big when it needed to at least showed something - particularly after an otherwise lackluster day.

Some fans - read gamblers – will make a big deal out of the fact the Steelers didn't cover in their 28-20 win over the Lions. But if they beat Cleveland and Minnesota at home in the next two weeks before their bye, all anyone will be talking about is 5-2, not how they got there.

© That rape case has really been a distraction for Ben Roethlisberger, huh?

Roethlisberger is completing and NFL-best 73.8 percent of his passes and is averaging just under 300 yards passing per game.

The biggest difference has been his willingness to check down to his running backs and tight ends.

It's no coincidence his completion percentage is what it is when he's already completed 29 passes to Heath Miller.

© Because of his pass catching ability, Rashard Mendenhall is a better fit as the starter for this team.

Oh yeah, he's running well too.

I like Willie Parker a lot. In fact, I was probably the first person in Pittsburgh to do a story on hiim when a I did a feature for SteelCityInsider.com on him during his first minicamp. Makes me feel like I discovered him, even though I didn't.

But Mendenhall has taken the bull by the horns.

The Steelers can keep resting Parker for another week or two to get his toe completely healed and use that as an excuse to keep on starting Mendenhall.

© I did find it interesting that when the Steelers were backed up against their own goal line in the second quarter, they came out with Mewelde Moore at tailback.

My first thought about that the coaching staff still has some fumble concerns with Mendenhall.

© Anybody who paid to see Cleveland play Buffalo today should get a refund. And their heads checked.

© In his past six quarters of football, James Harrison has five sacks.

That, my friends, is called production.

He has a tough matchup coming up with Cleveland's Joe Thomas, who has held him to a half-sack in three career meetings.

39 comments:

kyle said...

I'm not sure it will up to Thomas to stop Harrison. He's been stunting more than usual, at least to my eye. It might be because of the lack of production out of Woodley and the amount of extra attention that puts on Harrison. All I know is, if Harrison gets to test out every part of that Cleveland line, he'll have a good day.

Vaflyer said...

At this point, I just want to see the D start to get stops on 3rd down again. We don't seem to be able to get off the field.

Anonymous said...

I'm a little disappointed in the Steelers inability to close out lesser teams but like you said Dale, a win is a win. My only concern is the combined record of the opponents they've beaten (a dismal 3-11.) In the two games the steelers have lost, their inability to close out a good team has haunted them. That said, this team generally struggles early so this isn't anything new. Lets hope they peak at the end of the year as has been their practice during the last two Superbowl runs.

Ben said...

kyle check out post game heroes from last week. One of the best Steelers sites on the internet and they did a great video breakdown about why Woodley is not getting as many sacks. He's dropping into coverage on RBs a LOT more than he was last year. So it's not surprising his sacks have dropped off. But the teams played against thus far Detroit (Kevin Smith), San Diego (LT and Sproles), Tennessee (Chris Johnson), Chicago (Matt Forte), most of them have RBs who are very good at catching out of the backfield. The Minnesota game is going to be interesting because they lack that sort of threat so Wood might just get licence to go after Favre in that one. But check out Post Game Heroes.

marc said...

once again, we can't put a team away. a bad team at that. anyone notice how most the other top teams fared this week against weak opponents? they crushed them.

i'm glad we got a road win, but we really haven't beaten a good team yet.

kyle said...

I've been to Post Game Heroes before. It's a good site. I would guess they have Woodley dropping into coverage more because he isn't winning one on one match-ups with tackles so far. Why else would the steelers use their heaviest linebacker in coverage? A converted DE who actually put on weight this offseason, why him? I'm only speculating, but still

Patrick said...

I'm just echoing what other people said, but this inability win a game decisively is unbelievable. What is going on here?

Really Detroit shot themselves in the foot a few times in this game. Culpepper played very well, until he threw a really ugly pick that cost them big time. Their coach didn't exactly make great decisions either and why you decline that penalty is just beyond reasoning.

A win is a win, but can anybody really feel good about this team?

The MN game will be telling.

Anonymous said...

A win is a win...

but I thought I will never see the day that a Detroit offense (without CJ) could move the ball for almost 400 yards, 56% third down conversion (Including a 3th and 19), and control the TP over our Defense.

The Steelers where completely out play on the second half, if not for a big play to Wallace, an ugly play by Dante which ended up intercepted and the three last sacks, the out come should had been different.

And this second half meltdown is not just on defense, the offense stop playing. After the long play to Wallace, they had ONE first down, only one run with positive yards, three sacks and two three and out for the rest of the game.

Looooooong way to go before this team is thought as contender, good news there is time and talent to do it. Bad news other teams have figure out how to attack this defense and control the ball, this combine with the fact that our offense plays high risk high reward type of offense, so is subject to mistakes (pick six), I just don’t see how we can beat good teams right now.

Patrick said...

and about the penalty call by Schwartz, I mean unless he knew 100% that they would be short. But there was no indication of that. If someone knows for sure, then correct me.

Anonymous said...

Dale
Do you know why Aron Smith didn't played at the end of the game?

UMSteeler said...

did the steelers oline go back to a form of zone blocing at the end of the game? They were getting nowhere near the level of push as last game or even the first half.

adamg said...

I haven't checked second half time of possession, but I'm betting the Steelers had the ball less than 10 minutes. At one point the TOP was 16 minutes to 5 for Det. No defense is going to stop an offense when they have the ball that long. LeBeau likes to rotate 2 DLs, but the 2nd team is not playing as well as last year. Have we even heard Ziggy Hood's name called yet on a tackle, assist, sack or hurry? Hood is just not ready for prime time yet. He should be inactive while he learns a new position, DE, and improves his strength. Right now Eason gives the defense better play at 2nd team DE.

Wallace had a nice TD catch on the underthrown ball, but he had a dumb delay of game penalty for kicking the ball after one drop and failed to catch a 3rd down pass in the second half to sustain a drive. His route on the pick six
was easy to read and probably lead to the TD.

I think the Steelers need to play Hampton or Hoke with Smith in the nickle and dime. Teams are starting to run against it and, more importantly, QBs are taking advantage by scrambling for first downs. Keisel is a good player, but he gets steamrolled in that formation.

I understand that for teams like Det, they bring their A++ game for the defending SB champs, but that's no excuse for the Steelers to be scrambling to hang on for wins against them.

Mapod said...

Think the big issue in the 2nd half is not so much the Defense but how the Offense really did nothing. They ran 18 plays and the TD came on a 4 play on the first drive. But other than that had 2, 3 and outs. I not sure why but Ben seem to be looking for the deep pass. Three times Ben was sacked during the last 3 drives. I think he has to look short.

Anonymous said...

might want to double check that Joe Thomas stat on Harrison, I remember Harrison absolutely dominating Thomas last year

Anonymous said...

As bad as Clev - Buff was, the Ratbirds and Bungles (do they not remind you of us last year) was a great game. Steelers were not on where I live (CBS sux).

Thought overall this was a good game for the Steelers, road wins are always tough to get and Culpepper had something to prove. And there is definitely new management in Detroit.

At least the D is still tuff on the run and is getting sacks again. And again, the D only gave up 13 points - on the road also. Getting Troy back will help but they still need another CB, we have no depth - if we meet Manning in the playoffs, have no idea how we are going to cover. Could a trade be looked at - heard AL Davis was ready to go fire sale.

Wish we ran it more in the second half, and used more swing passes to Moore and Mendy. The possesion time was totally on the offense - we sat on our hands.

Farmer Fran

superfan99 said...

Arians got a little too cute in this one. Not enough Mendenhall.

Every drive in the first half that involved Mendenhall resulted in a touchdown. Check the box score for yourself.

The only drives in the first half that Mendenhall didn't get a carry resulted in the following - three-and-out, interception for touchdown, first half time expiring.

He's becoming the guy we all wanted him to be. When there isn't a hole, he's pushing a head for a yard or two. When there is a hole, watch out.

datruth4life said...

I think several things were evident in this game. Someone needs to save Arians from himself in the 4th Quarter; it was inexcusable that the Steelers didn't try to run the ball with a hot Mendenhall and decided to have Ben just drop back and throw. The Detroit pass rush began to get to Roethlisberger and Ben's proclivity to hold on to the ball isn't a great combination to continue throwing the ball.

K. Ratliff has been beat like a drum over the middle in pass coverage. The other team's tight ends continue to find a lot of room underneath in the middle of the field.

Lamarr Woodley finally showed some life in the 4th Q with those back to back sacks, but where was he for the rest of the game. He has to step up his game for this team's D to get back to where it was.

It might be time for Sweed to be inactive until an injury. If he dropped that first 3rd down pass, I didn't see him on the field again for the rest of the game. Sweed's problems are something that he needs to correct. Tomlin can't continue to let Sweed's issues hurt this team on gameday.

Also, coaching is making players better and I still hope someone can get through to Ben and let him know that it is okay to throw the ball away and not take so many sacks. They are momentum changers as well as field position changers. Just throw the ball away some time and live for another day.

I've been a fan of FWP in the past, but I just don't think he gives this offense what Mendenhall does. Mendy is running physical and downhill and his receiving ability and ability to pick up the blitz makes this offense more unpredictable and explosive. FWP can't push the pile or run against good defenses. I think Mendy needs to get the majority of the workload going forward.

With Polamula coming back, K. Ratliff returns to the bench. Time for Sweed to go back to the bench for awhile as well.

superfan99 said...

Was that play by Sweed really a drop? It looked like pretty good defending to me.

Sweed has taken a lot of heat for drops, but the wide receiver group as a whole has a case of the "dropsies." Even Ward.

marc said...

in fairness, mendy hasn't proven himself against a good defense yet.

Anonymous said...

Another good game without a fumble for Mendenhall...he's playing pretty well for guy that apparently isn't around the team enough and isn't the social butterfly some think he has to be.

Marcus said...

Okay, I normally just read these comments and don't respond but I can't help it!! We played a decent up and coming Lions team who has played some tough games this year against really good oposition. They haven't been blown out of games (except for the Chicago game last week where they were tied up until half time and decided to dress a completely different team for the second half). I think that Foote had this team fired up for this matchup and they played well!

Our inability to close out games is strictly because of our play-calling and not a lack of effort from our players. I think that we should continue to play Mendenhall when Parker comes back from injury because Mendy gives us more momentum. He is running hard and getting extra yards. Once BA gets in sync this Offense will be lights out.

Our defense, on the other hand, is not even in the same category when #43 is healthy. It excites me that he should be back next week for Cleveland and will be healthy for our next big test at Heinz field against Minnesota.

adamg said...

Arians was quoted in the paper today saying he "got greedy" looking for the long TD pass and should have called more running plays. IMHO, though, BR and BA just reinforce each others pass happy mentality. I hope each learned a lesson, but somehow I doubt it.

Edmund Nelson said football is a team game and the offense needs to recognize it can't be so selfish as to keep hanging the defense out to dry with short possessions/TOP. LeBeau's defense isn't built to play 16 of 21 minutes.

Anonymous said...

I am beginning to feel a little bad for Sweed. He really has become the new whipping boy now that Mendenhall has come to life. I am not trying to make excuses for him but the 3rd down "drop" was a low pass that the defender tipped (or at least had a nice hold of Sweeds arm). I am rooting for the guy because he gives a 100% and seems to be a good person.

I think the Clev. game is going to be ugly. 41-0

Dale Lolley said...

Harrison had four tackles and no sacks in the first game against Cleveland last year. Didn't play in the second game.
Twelve combined tackles and a half sack in two 2007 meetings - though he did force two fumbles in the second meeting.
That's three games against Thomas,. The only time he had a sack was Thomas' first game of his rookie season.

I'm not sure what happened to Aaron. I didn't see him in the locker room and unless you ask Mike about a particular player, he doesn't offer up injury info. I asked specifically about Clark after the game, but forgot about Aaron, even though I made note of it in my notebook.

marc said...

maybe we should start calling this team the "45 minute-men"? they've been outscored 55 - 13 in the 4th quarter. they've only scored 1 TD in the 4th quarter this year and have been shutout in the 4th quarter 3 times.

meanwhile, they've given up a TD in the 4th quarter of every game except the first game this year.

Patrick said...

whats the word on Clark then?

Anonymous said...

There were a lot of folks who were ready to bail on Mendy, and even though he has still much more to prove, he has at least shown the value of patience. I hope we can keep that mentality when it comes to Sweed. Couple reasons.

First is, as well as a good set of physical skills, he has a good work ethic and doesn't think he's too good to bother to pick up the playbook. Are you listening Vince Young. Sweed is not a flake and he understands its up to him to make the difference.

Second is for the future. Hines is getting near the end. Holmes is so full of himself he will price himself off the team and do we really want him anyway (better asked, can't we do better at the #1slot). McDonald is a journeyman and will not have any future impact. And Wallace looks promising, but do you want to lay it all on him when we have an all time QB for another 5 years?

And we will be drafting in the late rounds more than likely and we have other needs. We have to replace the entire D line as well as most the DBs over the next few years.

And lets not forget we need OL?? ok, cheap shot.

Here's hoping they not only keep him active, but also continue to give him throws. But throw to him over the middle, not this deep crap. He's a big guy, he won't break.

Farmer Fran

Anonymous said...

To add one thing to Farmer Fran's comments above: One thing that keeps me kind of still beleiving in Sweed...just a little...is the fact he has shown the ability to get open in this league, wide open, too open for his own good considering mental problem he has catching deep balls. The hardest thing for a receiver to do in this league is get open and create seperation, Sweed can do that...now he just has to figure out the easy part, which is catching the ball.

Dale Lolley said...

Clark is fine. He'll probably sit at practice early in the week, but the left shoulder is OK, just sore.

Anonymous said...

"Harrison had four tackles and no sacks in the first game against Cleveland last year."

Yeah, he didn't have any sacks against thomas last year, but he was all over anderson in that game. It was one of the better matchups I enjoyed in the beggining of last season, both of them brought their A game in that game and were just beating each other up. and Thomas probably won the sack battle, but harrison was on the winning team :)

btw Dale, do you have any info on keenan lewis? what do the coaches think about him? he's only been active for the Tennessee game

Dale Lolley said...

He's not as good a special teams player as Joe Burnett is.

Anonymous said...

Dale...sounds like Aaron's injury could be a bad one..any update on what happened to it?

keevin said...

Yeah, Tomlin said it could be a "significant" injury

sounds like he could be out for a while

any word on that Dale?

Skinley said...

Im guessing he goes on the IR with something like a torn labrm or rotator cuff. Lets hope Im pessimistic.

Patrick said...

huge loss. Absolsutely huge. Maybe they can get Sonny Harris back, maybe he could work in the rotation.

People talked about in '07, any chance of Hoke working at DE? It seems silly, but I think it would work in the base. Bring in Ziggy for 3rd downs.

3rd and 8 or so will be a tough spot from now on. Very susceptible to draws with no A. Smith

marc said...

ok, a thought from left field:

IF smith is out for the season, should we try to trade parker for a starting DE? Last time we lost him it wasn't pretty on defense.

SKINLEEEEEEY said...

tough to make a trade like that especially for damaged goods (Parker). 39 is coming off an injury, only has this year left on his contract, etc. A team interested could likely land him in free agency as its known around the league we likely wont make a play for him. And what team do you think he could start for?

marc said...

maybe you're right. i don't know enough about the rest of the league as to who a good suitor would be. seahawks, panthers, chiefs, raiders? though, we play 2of those this season.

imo, it's worth calling around if smith is done. then again, i'm not an NFL GM for a reason. :)

keevin said...

worth a shot (trading Parker)

the trade deadline is a week from today though