Sunday, September 26, 2010

Post-Tampa Bay thoughts

Am I vindicated now?

I pick the Steelers to win and cover and they do so with great ease.

Some felt this game could be a bit of a trap game, coming before a big showdown with the Ravens. But this is a highly motivated, highly focused team.

If anybody nearly got caught in a trap Sunday, it was the Ravens, who struggled to beat the Browns in a game sandwiched between meetings with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

It's still early, but the Steelers have the look of a team that wants to make its third Super Bowl trip in the past six years.

Injuries will play a big factor in that, but as the Steelers have already shown, they are not only talented, they're deep.

In fact, Mike Tomlin referenced the fact that every offensive lineman on the team's 53-man roster has already seen playing time this season. That can only help this team down the road.

© Many people feel the Steelers, at 3-0, are playing with house money in regard to these first four games without Ben Roethlisberger.

But these guys honestly feel like they should win every game.

© It's easy to second-guess Tomlin for his decision to start the season with Dennis Dixon at quarterback rather than Charlie Batch. But, in reality, he had painted himself into that corner.

Dixon had gotten way more work in the preseason and training camp than Batch. And then there was Batch's lengthy injury history, something Tomlin noted was part of his decision to start Dixon.

The bottom line is that the Steelers are 3-0. It hasn't always been pretty but it has been effective.

© One of the key plays in Sunday's game is something that likely won't be mentioned in any of the game stories - including mine.

But, trailing 3-0, the Steelers went three-and-out on their second possession. Punting from his own 29, Daniel Sepulveda nailed a kick 62 yards with no return to the Tampa Bay 9, completely changing field position.

Tampa Bay then went three-and-out and punted from its own 15.

The Steelers took over from the Tampa Bay 45 and two plays later, Batch hit Mike Wallace on his first long touchdown pass.

© Chris Hoke's sprained knee doesn't look bad, but it could be a big thing if he can't play against the Ravens in what will be a battle of the trenches.

© Speaking of the trenches, the Steelers did not allow a sack Sunday.

The last time that happened was when the Steelers played at Baltimore last November, a game started by Dixon.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am incredibly happy for Batch. He played a heck of a game, the whole team did. I am so proud to be a Steelers fan!

datruth4life said...

Dale,

Don't be surprised if Trai Essex doesn't get back his starting job at RG from the Doug "Bronco" Legursky. Legursky is simply a better RG than Essex and anything that he gives us in size he makes up for in strength, leverage and quickness. This upcoming game against H. Ngata will show you exactly where Pouncey and Legursky are as starters in this league.

Even if Hoke has to sit this game out, then I expect them to IR Dixon and sign S. McClendon off of the practice squad. Then after the bye, Mcclendon can be waived and put back on the practice squad to save a roster spot for Ben.

I hope that Tomlin will make Arians keep this team's run and physical focus on offense when Ben comes back. The play action should only make Ben more effective. And don't look now, but I think Antonio Brown will be an added weapon for Ben on offense after the bye. That is another WR that can help spread the field as well as take a slant to the house. If everyone can remain healthy, this team definitely has a shot at Lombardi no. 7.

Steve-O said...

If the Steelers keep this up they're going to make a run for 7 when #7 gets back.

Greg Mercer said...

Dale,

do you truly believe Arians has bought into the running game, or will he revert back to form once Ben returns?

also, who deserves the most credit for the improved ground attack... Pouncey or Kugler?

lastly, i second the motion to put Brown in the slot over ARE. El is a complete non-factor, and Moore can fair catch punts.

Steve-O said...

In fairness, I was one of many who questioned Flozell Adams during the preseason. He's held his own and went relatively unnoticed in today's game which is always good for a OT.

adamg said...

Batch did play a good game, but the truth is both the TDs to Wallace should have been intercepted or at least broken up. I was surprised at Batch running out of the pocket, but I suppose after 3 years of not playing due to season-ending injuries, he was pretty fresh and frisky.

Can't say enough about the OL and the job Kugler has done getting them ready to play. Kemo's lack of dumb penalties stands out which is probably a credit to both Kugler and Pouncey.

I'm pretty sure BA and BR will revert to pass happy form vs Clev.

Anonymous said...

I was one of those that doubted Charlie could still throw or move and questioned if he could stay healthy an entire game. I'm glad to say I was wrong. I'm happy for Batch and it was nice to see a balanced offense.
Mendenhall and the OL gets a lot of credit when they're stacking 9 in the box and he's able to get positive yards.
Legursky looks better than Essex though.

Anonymous said...

Dale, you need to edit your previous score prediction, to say that the Steelers would be ahead 20-6 in the second quarter (before the extra point).

Anonymous said...

"Redzone" had an impressive 6.2 ypc average. Not to be outdone, Mendy had a ridiculous 7.5 ypc average. This performance speaks to the strength of the offensive line. It shows what a powerful running game we will have once Ben returns to take a bit of the pressure off stacking 8 in the box.
Tomlin has come a long way from not even knowing Redman's name, (calling him Gary Russell last year) to patting him on the back after nearly every play. He did get stuffed in short yardage, but he was hit by everyone before he even had the handoff. Arians has called some good games so far (with the exception of that 55 yard field goal try in the Atlanta game and that ridiculous time out before the 2 minute warning) I was impressed that he hasn't gone to the well too many times with the deep pass and actually used the run game to close out the game (for once).
Our offensive line is improved with the addition of Flozell and Pouncey. I agree with other comments that Essex has just lost his starting position. The line is too big and slow as a whole and so a smaller quicker guard will help them. Essex is a good back up but is not a starter.
As Dale said, finally we are getting some miles out of Robopunter. In a game like that one I was glad not to have Tampa's punter. I would love to see a game this year with two different hundred yard rushers. I bet you can guess who I would like them to be-hint Mendenhall is one.

Mrs. Isaac Redman

keevin said...

I've always liked Essex but agree that the team is better off with Legursky starting at right tackle.

Plus, Essex is a great backup swing man as he can play both tackle and guard positions

Roy Lewis is looking great in Seattle, shoulda kept him over Mundy

Eric T said...

@adamg:

I thought the same thing about the two Wallace TD's, but you have to give Batch credit for at least having trust in both his ability and Wallace's to come down with the ball. I don't think Dixon would have even tried those passes.

Anonymous said...

Dale could you comment on the Jets and Braylen Edwards situation. The Jets made it seem like they could not have sat him as a punishment b/c it would cause problems with the players union yet Tomlin sat Santonio the game following his arrest . . . I don't think he even dressed.

Dale Lolley said...

I don't know that both of those balls should have been intercepted. On the first one, Grimm had his back to the play trying to catch up with Wallace - good luck with that. Got to see the ball to intercept it.

On the second, Talib made a heck of a recovery just to get a finger on the ball. There's no way he gets two hands on it to pick it off.

But the bottom line is, in single coverage, the receiver has the advantage and should come down with more of those than the defense.

As for the 55-yard field goal try against Atlanta, that wasn't Arians' call. That was Tomlin. Offensive coordinators don't get to make those decisions.

Darren said...

Last year the Steelers couldn't beat teams they were "supposed" to beat and they couldn't run the ball then they had a lead.

Check and Check.

The Ravens look much more like mortals now than at the beginning of the year when the media had christened them as nearly unbeatable.

adamg said...

Well, it sure looked like Talib got both hands on the ball on the 2nd Wallace TD. If that had been Ike Taylor, we'd be talking about how he should've intercepted the pass and what bad hands he has. No?

Agree Grimm didn't turn around, but if he had, he's got at least a pass defended.

No doubt Batch played well and obviously has the trust of the coaches and just like with Dixon, "coulda, shoulda, woulda" interceptions don't count.

Anonymous said...

Batch has been an NFL caliber QB. He's still pretty decent. Dixon is not, and most likely never will be, an NFL caliber QB. That's the difference.

Anonymous said...

adamg - Dixon shoulda had atleast 5 passes intercepted in game 1 so stfu

adamg said...

Be consistent. If you say Dixon "should have had 5 interceptions", then you should agree Batch should have had 4 interceptions in 1 game.

Dale Lolley said...

They're either interceptions or not. That's the NFL.
Should Ike Taylor have had the overthrow in the first half that looked like he was the intended receiver? That was a much easier pick than the one off Talib's hands.
If Talib makes that play, it's a great interception. He did not.

Oh, and as for the improved running game, I credit Kugler. He's installed a mentality with this team.
I did a magazine piece on him for Maple Street Press' Steelers magazine - check it out if you haven't - that will give you a pretty good look at the guy's mentality.

Anonymous said...

Gotta agree with adamg. Those TD passes were definitely INTs waiting to happen. The first one had more hang time than a punt and perhaps Charlie should have thrown it earlier. The second TD that was tipped/dropped by the Tampa DB was a little better pass but Tampa's DB definitely got 2 hands on it and should have picked it off. However, those things happen. Props to Charlie for taking the chance and letting the receiver try and make a play. It turned out well.

keevin said...

I hope Batch keeps launching them deep next week. Ravens secondary sucks

Dale Lolley said...

As for the Edwards situation, it's a different one than what happened with Holmes.

Edwards' arrest came early in the week and they can't suspend him - as per NFLPA rules. Now, if he pleads guilty or is found guilty, a suspension is likely.

Could they have chosen to make him inactive as the Steelers did with Holmes? Sure. But they're in the business of winning games.

Also, Holmes' incident happened late in the week. Tomlin didn't want it to be a distraction, so he told him to stay away from the team until Monday. There were also some extenuating circumstances as we later learned. Holmes was consistently late to meetings and such. Tomlin decided to draw a line in the sand that Holmes later crossed again - hence his trade.

Steve-O said...

For everyone that's ready to replace Essex with Legursky, I say hold on just a minute. I agree Legursky earned a chance to start against Baltimore but that will be the real test, not the Tampa Bay defense of this past game.

Legursky is slightly undersized. If he gets bull rushed by the Ravens then we'll know he's not the right man for the job. On the other hand if he can withstand the heft of the Ravens D-line then we may have found a RG for the future.