Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Steelers at the bye

OK admit, even the most ardent Steelers fans among you didn't have this team going 3-1 heading into their bye week.

This team is 3-1 with Ben Roethlisberger coming back and could have just as easily been 4-0 if not for a play here or there against the Ravens Sunday.

The offensive line has played well, regardless of who has played - and every lineman on the 53-man roster has seen action. The only one who has looked overmatched has been Tony Hills.

Running back Rashard Mendenhall is one of just three backs in the league averaging over 100 yards rushing per game. His blitz pickup has been very good and backup Isaac Redman has been solid as well.

We haven't gotten to see much from the receivers due to the quarterback situation, but Roethlisberger will make them better. Remember, a great quarterback can make even average receivers look good. Think about the guys that Brett Favre has made stars of over the years.

The defensive line has been strong, despite a missed game each by nose tackles Casey Hampton and Chris Hoke.

The linebackers have been, well, the linebackers. Lawrence Timmons is an emerging star and James Harrison, LaMarr Woodley and James Farrior have done their usual solid work.

The secondary is actually catching the ball this season, something it did not do last year. Yes, Bryant McFadden was beaten for the winning touchdown against the Ravens, but Baltimore's wide receiver group of Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh is pretty darn good. The fact that Baltimore scored just 17 points with those three receivers on the field cannot be overlooked.

Much of the yardage allowed through the air this season has come late in games when the team is in a prevent.

Special teams have been much better than last season. The coverage units have been solid. Al Everest also came up with a solid trick return at Tennessee.

Yes, Jeff Reed has missed four field goals at Heinz Field. But kicking at Heinz Field is no day at the park. Anything over 40 yards is difficult, particularly toward the open end of the field.

Sometimes, field goals are taken for granted. They should not be at Heinz Field.

At the beginning of the season, I had the Steelers down for a 10-6 record. Looking at things have shaken out over the first month, there's no reason this team can't go 9-3 the rest of the way.

20 comments:

Henry said...

Dale,

which offensive skill player do you think benefits the most from Ben's return?

Is it Hines, Heath, Wallace, one of the rookie WRs, or even Mendenhall who will surely have more running lanes with 2 deep safety coverage alignments?

Skinley said...

I think Wallace gets the biggest spike in production because Ben throws a much better long ball.

Anonymous said...

The defense gets just as much help from Ben's return, because the offense will actually be picking up first downs and scoring points.

They can get a breather now and then and not have to practically win the game all by themselves despite the "extra" Dixon- and Batch-given possessions to the opposing offenses.

Anonymous said...

did Ben rape anyone yet?

Darren said...

Henry,

I think they will ALL benefit but like Skinley said, I think Wallace will benefit the "most". Now I'm off to try to trade for him in my Fantasy league.

marc said...

i believe miller and randle el will benefit the most amongst the receivers. wallace is a legit deep threat that teams will plan for. ward will get his share of attention. #7 will do a better job of going thru his reads and hitting the open guy, imo.

i'm looking forward to seeing how the steelers defend the browns. i live outside of cleveland and they are raving about their RB, hillis. he's a tough runner with a little bit of speed.

the browns game is no gimme either. they have had a lead in the 4th quarter of every game so far. they could easily have a winning record right now.

Anonymous said...

I live in Fayetteville and watched Hillis for four years; he's a great, tough runner. But there's no way he runs over this defense. Sorry, but if CJ can't run against us, no one will. Browns fans are absolutely unbelievable. On the ESPN boards, they're all talking about making a run. They will NEVER learn to just keep their mouths shut until they actually win something. One of my favorite things to read is when the AFCN blogger posts at the end of the season all the emails he got from fans bragging about their team. Browns fans litter that list with absurdities.

marc said...

well, hillis did run very well against the ravens.

Dale Lolley said...

I think all the receivers benefit greatly. I also think that Mendenhall benefits because he won't be facing 8 and 9-man fronts.

I like Hillis, but look at the running backs they've shut down already.

Michael Turner-19 carries, 42 yards
Chris Johnson-16-34
Cadillac Williams-6-13 (He's not what he was, but he's the best Tampa's got)
Willis McGahee-14-39
Ray Rice-8-20

datruth4life said...

Dale,

Do you think the Big Legursky keeps that RG starting spot? I was at the game on Sunday and tried to watch he and Pouncey against Haloti Gnata and Gnata was just a wall most of the time. Still, Batch had plenty of time to throw in this game (most of the time) and this OL is the best the team has had in three years.

I think a player who will benefit greatly from Ben being back is WR/RS Anthony Brown. With Ben back, maybe Tomlin will let A. Brown return more punts instead of Randle-El's fair catches or 3 yard returns and then falling down. Also, the Steelers need another WR with speed in their 3rd and 4 WR packages who can get down the field besides Wallace. I believe A. Brown is another explosive weapon on offense that this team can use. Mendy and Moore will automatically become better check down options in the passing game. This team has the capability of winning in all three phases on any given Sunday. Big improvement from this past year.

Lastly, I think it might be time for Farrior and Foote to rotate a little at that ILB spot. Farrior's play has slipped. Besides, I think Farrior and Foote is only keeping this spot warm for Sly Sylvester, who will be fun to watch paired with Timmons for the next several years.

Anonymous said...

Fox is way better than Foote

Anonymous said...

It is not Hillis what worrys me, but Clevelands offensive line.

I think they have one of the best in football, Gnata may had been just a wall most of the time against the Steelers, but he was move by Mack all day long, hence Hillis 144 yards.

Harrison has been domitated by Thomas every time.

I agree with Marc, the browns game is no gimme. Because all other runner you mention do not have the offensive line the Browns have.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your comments and they are good reasons to be optimistic.

Al though I think you are too optimistic about Farrior, he is still a good run stopper but he can´t cover or tackle in space. He doesn’t have the speed any more.

I admit I am not optimistic about the WR; yes Ben will make them better, so instead of been one of the worst receiving corps in the league they may become somewhat below average.

Wallace is a one trick pony with great speed that teams will prepare for with deep safety help; he is definitely not a top 15 number one receiver in this league.

Ward is great at finding the soft spot in zone coverage but is useless against press coverage, which every team that knows him will use; Ward needs the space that a deep Wallace and an elusive Holmes used to create.

And there is no a lot of options for number 3, Rookies with limited knowledge of how to read a defense or old and slow WR.

This team is going to miss Holmes against the better teams in case of a deep playoff run. It is a shame because with Holmes this offense will be scary good, plus an already scary good defense, I believed the chances this team had to go deep where really good, now I am not sure.

Anonymous said...

I hate the way the Ravens game played out, but I agree that the Steelers are in good shape.

In my mind, the only players who have clearly performed "below the line" so far have been Jeff Reed and Mewelde Moore.

Darren said...

The "worst receiving corps" line is beyond moronic.

Wallace is better than Holmes was at the same point in his career. He's only in his second year. He shows up on time and keeps his name off the rap sheet. He has more deep speed and isn't a toke away from being suspended indefinitely.

Ward is still Ward. Useless against press coverage? Stupid comment. Please give specific examples of your claim. Point to film or specific plays. If it were that simple he wouldn't hold every Steeler receiving record.

El finally shows up in the passing game and he's now old and slow? The two rookie receivers will get there.

You are forgetting Heath too. If Batch would have been "on" on Sunday, Heath would have had at least 60 more yards receiving.

Dale Lolley said...

"The Browns have the best offensive line in football"

Glad to see some Browns fans have found that site.

The Steelers will mop the floor with this hodge-podge of muck that are currently being passed off as the Browns. The game is as much a gimmee as I've seen in 18 years of covering the NFL.

As I've said before, I liked Peyton Hillis a lot coming out of college, but nobody is running on the Steelers.

I'm not sure how losing one game against a quality opponent and giving up 17 points has soured so many people on this team. The Steelers weren't going to go unbeaten. Wasn't ever going to happen.

As for Farrior, put 90 percent of the linebackers in the league one-on-one with a running back in coverage and they're going to lose that race. Timmons is one of the rare exceptions.

But replacing Farrior with Foote would not solve that.

Patrick said...

"The game is as much a gimmee as I've seen in 18 years of covering the NFL."

Great, Dale just made the Steelers 3-2.

Vaflyer said...

First, let me say that their isn't a player on offense, including the line, that doesn't benefit from Ben being in there. Every receiver will be better, the running backs will have more space to run to, the TEs will not be held back so much to pick up the blitz, the OLine will face less 9 man fronts when trying to run the ball. In essence, the whole offense, every player just got better.

Second, IMO the player who benefits the most is Mendenhall. He has put up good numbers against 8 and 9 man fronts...what will he do when they don't think he is going to run every down.

Third, it would not surprise me if Sanders gets back in the lineup in 2 weeks. Brown taking that kickoff return out of the endzone can not have been a popular decision to the coaches.

Fourth, hypothetical question...how many here think Ben might have gotten us into FG range on Sunday? I don't know if he would have had time, but somehow I think his arm strength would have allowed a couple of middle of the field throws that Charlie just isn't capable of making.

Anonymous said...

If you think Brown should not have returned that ball out of the endzone, you are a complete idiot. That is your best chance to make a big play not noodle-arm Batch throwing into a prevent defense.

I guarantee Brown was instructed to return the kickoff no matter what.

It saddens me that other Steelers fans are too stupid to realize this

cheap pittsburgh steelers tickets said...

i think Ben's return in team is good sign for steelers..