Visit NFL from the sidelines on the new Observer-Reporter site:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Post-Miami thoughts

A wise man said – OK, it was Craig Wolfley – that during the course of a season, you win a game you should lose and lose a game you should win.

That was probably the case for the Steelers on Sunday as they won a game they probably should have lost.

Why should they have lost?

The defense didn't have a very good game. Yes, the final numbers aren't bad, but as the injuries mounted, the Dolphins moved the ball pretty easily.

The Steelers can be thankful that Miami's offense bogged down again and again inside the 20.

Chad Henne missed some throws and checked down a couple of other times instead of taking a shot at the end zone to 6-4 wide receiver Brandon Marshall.

© As we saw, Lawrence Timmons just isn't the same Lawrence Timmons when he has to move to outside linebacker as he did at times Sunday to replace injured LaMarr Woodley.

Timmons' game is built on speed and his explosiveness. He's not a guy who's going to line up and beat you with his pass rush moves.

I would expect Woodley to at least try to play next week at New Orleans, but if he doesn't, the Steelers have to at least take a long look at starting rookie Jason Worilds in place of Woodley.

© We won't know for sure until Monday, but it doesn't look good for Aaron Smith and his torn triceps muscle.

The Steelers are a little more optimistic about Flozell Adams' ankle injury.

© Everywhere I go, people are hammering me this year for my NFL picks. But I ask you, who can figure this league out this year?

Baltimore should have had a cakewalk against Buffalo Sunday and probably should have lost.

New Orleans did lose at home to Cleveland.

Tennessee is looking a little better, but that's still a team the Steelers beat on the road with Dennis Dixon and Charlie Batch putting up high school football quarterback numbers.

Picking games against the spread this season is a losing proposition.


Anonymous said...

Isn't Gibson the primary backup for Woodley, not Worilds?

Anonymous said...

He didn't have a hat, so no

vibaku said...

"Franco made that play because he never quit on the play. He kept running, he kept hustling. Good things happen to people who hustle."

Anonymous said...

I know. Dale said they should think about starting Worilds next week if Woodley can't go, so I was wondering if it might be Gibson instead.

Anonymous said...

considering gibson hasn't even being active for a game, worilds has been active every game, has a sack and got good pressure on henne, yeah, I'd say there is no chance gibson starts

Woodley will play so it's a moot point anyway

Anonymous said...

Worilds seems to be going about things the right way. Showed up for camp on time and ready to go. Carved his way onto the roster via Special Teams. Whether it's this week due to injury, or another week in a Steelers blowout, I'm very interested in seeing this how this college DE convert is progressing with his coverage abilities---The Full Monty

adamg said...

Hoping for the best for Aaron Smith, but this could well be a career, not just season, ending injury.

It was disappointing to see the Steelers again abandon the running game after a few tries of getting not many yards. The same scenario played out as last year. When they wanted/needed to run the ball in the second half, they couldn't.

After the Clev game, I thought BR was learning to throw the ball away instead of holding it too long and taking a sack. Yesterday was the worst of both worlds with the two ill-advised attempts to dump the ball resulting in fumbles and three sacks.

Kugler must think a black cloud is following him around after all the OL injuries in Buff last year and now here. Still he's done a good job having to mix and match and with the NFL schedule makers doing the team no favors with all the early games in hot weather cities.

Have to give the D credit for hanging in there with just 4 DL and no Woodley at the end. I did see Woodley run off the field at the end, still in full uniform. That seemed like a good sign.

Anonymous said...

Arians is an idiot. The way the screwed up before halftime and didnt even attempt a FG

Gay sucks and cant tackle, should put Lewis in

adamg - you are an idiot. they didnt abandon the run game. they ran too much. 27 of 57 plays was a run u idiot

Patrick said...

is anybody going to question the wisdom of running a QB draw in that situation?

If you're going to run it, give it to the guys who, you know, carrying it for a living in those situations.

Thought that was a really terrible call and I wish BA and co. would just take out any plays that are designed for Ben to run.

There were a few times the playcalling was a little too cute. What the hell was that pathetic attempt at a reverse? And what a terrible time to call that. Who needs a FG anyway right?

Anonymous said...

Actually, I was calling for a QB sneak, so I've got no problem with a draw. Miami's run defense was really filling the gaps, so by the time you had a handoff, there's nowhere to go. How many times have we seen Roethlisberger score in that situation.
In fact, I would have run another sneak on fourth down from the 1.
If you don't get in, Miami gets the ball inside the 1 with the Steelers holding three timeouts and the two-minute warning to stop the clock. You can bet Sparano would have done the same thing Tomlin did against Baltimore. Three runs and punt.
I don't like giving a team the ball back needing a field goal to win with more than two minutes left. Even though Miami bungled it, I would have gone for the TD.

Worilds made enough plays and got enough pressure Sunday to earn the playing time if its there.

Gay's coverage on the TD was very good. He missed the tackle because he tried to knock the pass down and just missed it. Ryan Clark is the one who should be skewered. Got to at least knock him out of bounds on that one.

And how is it Arians' fault that Roethlisberger holds the ball on third down and takes a sack - when they're already in field goal range? Yes, the reverse call stunk, but Tomlin admitted to bungling that one by not at least trying to put points on the board.
There was a stiff wind blowing in that direction - as we saw from the touchbacks kicked that way. Got to give Reed a chance there.


Patrick said...

if they really thought Miami's Run D was going to shut down any short run, then there are numerous plays you can run without a QB handling the ball in that situation. A HB draw, a WR screen, a slant, etc.

They basically put the guy with the greatest chance of fumbling in a position to do so. They HAD to put points up there. A fumble was the last thing you need and they almost accomplished it.

marc said...

i have no problem with the QB draw there. i like that kind of call close to the goaline with a big QB. crowder made the perfect hit, otherwise it's a TD. actually, if #7 waits a second longer, it may have opened up for him even more, imo.

tomlin admitted to botching the end of the 1st half. sounds like it was his decision and he hesitated on it.

i say woodley should only play if he is 100%. otherwise, get worilds some action and make sure woodley is ready for the bengals. divisional game with already 1 loss to the ravens is much more important.

Anonymous said...

Yup, we stole one. Good.


No running game.

The combination of Arians / Ben / Tomlin screwing up clock management at the end of a half probably costing us three points.

Three red zone trips, three FGs.

The offense basically being Ben and the receivers making plays on third down, usually with Ben scrambling and pump-faking a few times.

It all feels so familiar.

Anonymous said...

"And how is it Arians' fault that Roethlisberger holds the ball on third down and takes a sack - when they're already in field goal range"

Because anything wrong with the offense is ALWAYS arians fault

note the sarcasm

"i say woodley should only play if he is 100%. otherwise, get worilds some action and make sure woodley is ready for the bengals. divisional game with already 1 loss to the ravens is much more important."

hm, I agree. More worried about flozell though

adamg said...

No problem with the QB draw either. It was open and caught Miami off guard. I'm really not sure if BR could have put his head down and bulled in instead of reaching, though. Another option might have been a fake hand off up the middle and bootleg to the corner.

Dale Lolley said...

Ben did say after the game that he had options on the draw. Don't know if they were pre-snap or post-snap. But it's possible that if the Dolphins showed them something different defensively, he could have thrown it.

That previous post, by the way, is mine. Was unable to sign in for some reason.

Greg Mercer said...


were you surprised that Tomlin kicked the field goal instead of going for it? obviously, it worked out because the Steelers won.

Patrick said...

on a 2 yard play, that forced a fumble, did it really catch the other team off guard?

adamg said...

A hole did open up, which it didn't seem to be doing when they just did the straight hand-offs. It sure wasn't the worst play call I've ever seen from BA.

marc said...

i watched the QB draw play a few more times and i still think it was a good call.

miami rushed 6 guys, none of whom was even close to #7. therefore, they dropped 5 and only 1 of them had a clue what was going on. i would call that catching the defense off guard.

additionally, #7 didn't need to dive. if he just puts his shoulder down he runs crowder into the endzone because of the angle crowder had.

deljzc said...

Since Tomlin's arrival, the think-tank of Tomlin/Arians/Big Ben has been questionable at best in the heat of battle. We've been talking about clock management, weird play-calls after timeouts and just dumb mistakes on the field by Roethlisberger seemingly forever.

I would never rate this team as one of the smarter teams out there (from coaching staff on down). And I think it costs us points sometimes.

I didn't like Arians play calls a bunch in this game and I feel fortunate we grabbed the victory.

I guess move on and hope for improvement but this game reminded me so much of 2008-2009 it was scary.

Patrick said...

well look, it doesn't matter if 10 guys on the D sat on the sideline with their junk in their hands. The fact of the matter is defense is 11 guys and if only 1 guy saw it, it doesn't matter because he almost won the game for his team.

I'm suprised you all think that Ben, having mishandled the ball twice in the game already, was really the best option on that play.

A fumble would have come really close to ending the game and they risked that. You can't tell me that Ben isn't the likeliest of offensive players to fumble the ball.

Is it the worst call ever by BA? No, but that doesn't mean it was a great call.

Just run the ball there. Let the RB's do their jobs, hold onto the ball and hopefully push a pile. If not, kill some clock and kick the FG because you're DOWN by 2. You can't risk losing the ball in that situation.

adamg said...

How many times have we seen players reach the ball over the goal line for just a fraction of a second, then have it knocked out of their hand, but the play's over because the ball broke the plane and it's a TD? That play's particular circumstance will probably never happen again.

There's no guarantee even a sure-handed RB won't fumble (see Bettis fumble vs Indy AFCC 2005).

Darren said...

This whining over the sneak play is too much. If you are a coach and you think a play is going to work you don't think "but that guy might fumble so I shouldn't call that play". You call a play with the expectation that your players will execute the play. PERIOD.

I'm not a big Arians fan at all but come on. Just because a play worked one time when you pushed the "B" button to call a play on Madden doesn't mean you have half a clue on how to call an NFL game.

Ben was terrible at ball protection yesterday. Two fumbles doesn't mean you expect a third. That third doesn't mean you take the QB sneak out of next weeks play book either.

Dale Lolley said...

Ben has scored on runs more often than not throughout his career. I rewatched the play over and over again today. The Dolphins had everyone at the line of scrimmage, pressing the receivers. They had slammed the running backs all day.

That draw opened up wide. And Roethlisberger did not need to dive. He could have run in.

Steve-O said...

1. The QB Sneak was a good call, just not executed well by Ben

2. The Dolphins deserved to lose as much as the Steelers. Why is it we look at all of the Steeler's faults and determine they deserved to lose. As I see it the Dolphins failed to score a touchdown on multiple occasions in the red zone (at home) and at the end of the game they still had two minutes against a defense missing their starting left DE and left OLB. Bottom line, we played poorly on the road but the home team didn't take advantage of it, you tell me who should hang their head? Certainly not the Steelers.

3. I must admit "deljzc" makes a good point. Clock management is not a strong suit of Tomlin's coaching staff. I'm also not enamored with Tomlin's use of the challenge flag over the past few years. That said, his strengths far outweigh his weaknesses. I particularly like that he stuck with Emmanuel Sanders after that first fumble. It paid dividends in the game.

4. Finally Dale, I feel your pain on the picks against the spread this year. I can't seem to score more than seven games a week against the spread this year.