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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Post-Detroit thoughts

The Steelers could not have been happy with the way their running backs were putting the ball on the ground against Detroit Saturday night.

Rashard Mendenhall's fumble is one that should not have happened. If it doesn't, he rips off a 30-yard gain if he doesn't take it for a touchdown. Instead, Mendenhall was carrying the ball very loosely.

Head coach Mike Tomlin yanked Mendenhall out of the game on the second series and his backup, Mewelde Moore, promptly put one on the ground as well.

For a team that will be hoping to bide its time with Byron Leftwich at quarterback, those kind of drive killers can't happen.

© Isaac Redman is working his way into a roster spot and Jonathan Dwyer could find himself on the outside looking in.

It must be noted, however, that much of Redman's work came against backups.

© Keenan Lewis and Joe Burnett both made nice plays in the end zone on 6-5 receiver Calvin Johnson.

Lewis was later beaten for a TD by Johnson, but it appeared to me that Johnson pushed off on the play.

Still, a touchdown is a touchdown.

Lewis shouldn't feel too badly about that, though. Johnson's an all-world talent.

© Let's not get too giddy over Dennis Dixon's final numbers being better than those of Leftwich.

There isn't a quarterback controversy in Pittsburgh - yet.

Dixon played pretty well. But as we saw Saturday night, he's quick to tuck the ball and try to run.

That may work against Detroit's backups. But remember that Detroit went 2-14 last season. How good can the Lions' backups be?

Plus, a lot of Dixon's passing yards were due to great runs after the catch by Arnaz Battle and Antonio Brown.

© Speaking of Battle and Brown, there may be no more difficult cut for the Steelers than at wide receiver.

That is why I have been saying for weeks that Stefan Logan has no shot of making this team.

We didn't get to see Brown or third-round draft pick Emmanuel Sanders in the return game, but that will be coming next week.

And with Antwaan Randle El and Burnett also capable of working in the return game, keeping a one-trick pony like Logan won't be possible.

© I was a little surprised the Steelers didn't try Daniel Sepulveda on kickoffs. Then again, Jeff Reed's kickoffs were pretty good in this one.

You know what they say about a little competition.

© One of the things the coaching staff had to be happiest with was the fact the Steelers were penalized just two times for 25 yards. Detroit, on the other hand, had 11 for 88 yards.

That means the young guys weren't overwhelmed by the experience of playing in their first preseason game.

© To hear about my thoughts on Saturday's game, listen in on Fox 970-AM from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday.


Ben said...

It's not Dixon's numbers that impressed me. It's just that I was so unimpressed with Leftwich. Have you ever seen a guy take that long to drop back into the pocket? He looks like he's running through pudding.

With Lefty in there, using him as a drop-back passer is almost impossible. He's not nearly fluid enough. We can't keep him in a shotgun set and expect to be able to run the ball -- something that will be essential in the first four weeks.

There are 3 more pre-season games to be played, and I have to think Dixon earned himself some more reps with the first team. Leftwich will get killed behind this line.

adamg said...

Nice to see an offense that didn't consist solely of the qb running around trying to make sandlot plays.

Detroit might not be very good, but they were trying to set an aggressive tone on defense and I think it surprised the Steelers a little. The screens and draws worked well against it.

The first team defense looked ready to atone for a bad year in 2009, but the second team DL didn't impress me. Keenan Lewis, Butler and Anthony Madison stood out at reserve CB. I think DB will a tough to cut players at position.

Pouncey looks terrific. I can see why the comparisons to Dawson. On the 31 yd Redman run, not only did he make an initial block at the line, but followed the play down the field, made another block, then rammed Redman from behind forward another 4 or 5 yards. Pouncey gets on the LBs real fast, too. He'll be the starting center by the end of the season.

keevin said...

you see my boy Keenan Lewis go up against Calvin Johnson and break up that jump ball in the endzone?

suck on that Patrick. too bad you cant form any wothwhile opinions yourself

marc said...

starting o-line was par for the course. kemo got smoked up the middle on a stunt. adams has cement in his shoes. essex was weak at the point of attack and pushed back into the play many times. pouncey looked good for a new guy though.

if the o-line continues to play like it has the last couple years then lefty will get killed.

Patrick said...

keeeeevvvin , your "worthwhile opinion" on Lewis when asked why hes so awesome was "I dunno I just like him"

Patrick said...

And my own opinion I stole from Vinnie Iyer's and individuals' various blogs....

keevin said...

I said I like him because he looked good in preseason last year moron

Cant you take a hint from everyone here and stop posting. You add nothing here

marc said...

i though lewis looked OK. he did make a nice play in the endzone, but he was also targeted quite a bit. also, didn't he give up the td pass? i didn't think that was good coverage at all.

Patrick said...

I don't even know who Vinne Iyer is.

and keeeeeeeeevin, I didn't even argue about whether or not he was so good. Just asked you why you thought he was so good to which you replied "last preseason. I like him whatever". You should apply to SI with phrases like that.

but I agree with marc here. Johnson didn't even need to push off, Lewis was not in good position.

enough kiddie non sense

I know its early and theres likely no gameplanning (even though they practiced against the 4-3). But if the O-line and first team offense doesn't improve this season is going to be dreadful no matter who plays QB.

You can say we shouldn't put much stock into Dixon's numbers against back ups, but he clearly had a much better night than Leftwich, had way more pop to him and created opportunities. He deserves a look with the first team.

I predict Mendenhall is going to have some fumbling problems this year. It seems like he had that problem during some training camp practices and he obviously didn't attempt to fix it last night.

Anonymous said...

"Lewis was later beaten for a TD by Johnson, but it appeared to me that Johnson pushed off on the play."

and that's always gonna happen with tall receivers. Happens with moss all the time

keevin said...

Dixon def. deserves to get some playing time regardless of who the starter is

but no he shouldnt start over Leftwich imo

adamg said...

That TD pass to Johnson was almost impossible to stop. It was just a curl right inside the goal line. It's no win for the CB. If he plays in front, it's lofted over him for a TD, if plays behind the wr, it's a TD just as happens. It didn't look like anyone dropped into a zone in front Johnson as he went to goal line which might have given Lewis a chance to break up the play either.

Patrick said...

agree it was a tough play, all I'm saying is that the push off didn't really matter.

One other thought: with Coffee retiring and the Bills being out 2 RB's now (Jackson and Lynch), plus other injuries to RB's around the league, if Dwyer is put on the PS he is almost sure to be gone, unless he just plays awful.

Anonymous said...

I think people are making way too big a deal out of Mendenhall's fumbles. He fumbled like crazy the last two pre-seasons, but once the regular season started he barely fumbled at all.

He must not be able to concentrate during pre-season games or something.

Anonymous said...

Id cut Randle El before I'd cut Logan.

Dale Lolley said...

The second-team defensive line still includes Nick Eason - for now. I don't expect him to make this team. Could be surprised there, but he adds nothing.
But that's what you'd expect to see with a first-team offensive line going against a second-team unit.

I think they will eventually settle on using Dixon in some specialty packages with Leftwich starting.

adamg said...

Dale, I thought Eason played well last year. He may be on the bubble, but I don't believe he adds "nothing" to the team. The 2nd DL plays a lot in regular season games so you'd like to see them not be dominated by Detroit's offense.

BTW, I thought Tony Hills played well. What's your read on his status with the team?

Anonymous said...

LOL at Patrick saying another team will snag up Dwyer if he is on the PS.

what an idiot

steelwhirlo said...

I would like to see an article that mentions Burnett without mentioning his dropped INT in the Raiders game last year. Yes it was dumb, but aren't cornerbacks supposed to live one play at a time? Why don't we let him.

Patrick said...

you prob would have said the same thing about Sunny Harris last year too. But right, I'm the idiot.

Anonymous said...

"But right, I'm the idiot." - Patrick

smartest thing you've ever posted here

keevin said...

Dwyer hasn't shown anything

I doubt anyone would snag him off the PS.

Redman has got to make this team!!!

kelly said...

I agree Dwyer didn't do much on Saturday, but it's not like there were a lot of huge holes to run through. It's ONE preseason game people, let's try and keep it in perspective.

And can we stop with the childish name calling? It just brings this blog down and I think we can all agree that we appreciate Dale's work and would like it to continue.

keevin said...

kelly - also keep in perspective that rookies drafted in the lower rounds rarely make teams like the Steelers anyways (except for my boy Antonio Brown!) There is no room on this team for Dwyer. He will end up on the practice squad. Not sure why people think he will make the team

keevin said...

Dale - how many corners will the Steelers keep? I really like the 3 young corners (Lewis, Burnett and Butler), can they all make the team?

I wish we would just cut Gay!

Anonymous said...

Dwyer will replace someone on the team- Justin Vincent- on the practice squad

I think he has a future, but certainly not right now. And if he gets snagged from the PS by runningback needy teams like bills seahawks or 49ers then oh well. I doubt it though

adamg said...

Dwyer's probably a candidate to land on IR for the season, just like Summers did last year.

Bouchette reports Pouncey is practicing with the first team this afternoon, at center.

Dale Lolley said...

CB is going to be a tough cut, but remember that Anthony Madison was on the roster as well last season.

So McFadden replaces Townsend and then it's down to Butler or Anthony Madison.

I like Madison a lot and he's an outstanding special teams player. Made some plays against the Lions in the base as well. Butler has been a star of TC and the preseason.

That's a tough cut.

datruth4life said...

Dale, I'd rather keep Butler and Madison and look at cutting Willie Gay and Joe Burnett. Gay has proven that he can't start in this league and Burnett is a 4th CB at best. Neither is as good on special teams as Madison or Butler. I think Butler could end up being a starter-caliber CB/S and Madison is the best special teams player on your squad. Both of them are keepers.

Anonymous said...

They did cut Madison last year with fewer CBs on the team

just saying....

adamg said...

I agree that Burnett and Gay are more likely to be cut than Madison. Remember the Steelers had to re-sign Madison to help their STs last year. I really haven't understood the fascination with Burnett.

Anonymous said...


Madison aint makin this team dawg

Dale Lolley said...

Burnett is most definitely not getting cut. That's just silly. I highly doubt Gay is getting cut as well.

William said...

I think that Madison might be competing more with Battle for a roster spot than with the other DB's.

Battle and Madison were both mainly brought in to be special teams guys and I don't think the Steelers will keep two guys who mainly just play special teams, especially since they now have some new LB's who will get a chance to play special teams too.

IMHO, Battle adds more at WR than Madison does as a DB, so I think Madison is facing an uphill climb to make the team.

datruth4life said...


Are you telling me that you would cut A. Madison and C. Butler in order to keep Joe Burnett and OTA Willie Gay? Are you kidding me?

I don't know how short people's memories are, but the last time I checked, the Steelers coverage units sucked big time. The best special teams player and gunner on the roster is A. Madison. The fact that he's looked the best I have ever seen him look as a CB shouldn't hurt his bid either. Butler is a rookie but he has the type of ability where he could be a starter at CB for this team in a year or 2 and might actually be able to make a play on the ball.

I don't think anyone is predicting a bright future as a starter for Willie Gay (over his head and truly terrible as a starter this past year) or Joe Burnett (nothing more than a 4th CB at best, no size, no speed, was drafted to be a returner but can't even catch punts). Let's see what happens.

Dale Lolley said...

Look, I like Anthony Madison a lot. I think he's a great guy. But he's fighting an uphill battle.
I like Burnett more as a corner than I do Madison. Taylor is not going to be resigned after this season and Gay could be gone as well - but they'll likely keep him this season for experienced depth.
They took a whole bunch of special teams types in the draft. I realize Madison is good there. But he was so good there last season that they cut him. Yes, they brought him back, but the fact remains, they cut him last year. He's had a good camp. But so have the other guys.