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Monday, November 15, 2010

Post-New England thoughts

It was a humbled group in the Steelers locker room following the team's 39-26 loss Sunday night to the New England Patriots.

And it should have been.

The Steelers were soundly beaten in every phase of the game.

Heck, the Patriots even ran for 103 yards.

You knew going in that New England's offense was going to score some points. That's what the Patriots do.

But Pittsburgh's offense took nearly two quarters to finally adjust to playing without wide receiver Hines Ward, who was knocked out of the game with a concussion on a helmet-to-helmet hit – that was not penalized – by safety James Sanders.

By the time that happened, the Steelers had already dropped three passes in the end zone and Jeff Reed had missed a 26-yard field goal, a chip-shot by any definition.

You can't beat good teams doing that.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed one of 10 passes attempts to wide receivers in the first half.

The Steelers were fortunate to be down just 10-3 at that point.

© I've seen about all of tight end David Johnson in the backfield that I care to see. If you're not going to block somebody, at least get in their way.

© The Steelers had done a good job of tackling in their secondary until Sunday night, limiting the damage from quarterbacks, who were completing over 65 percent of their passes against them.

That changed against New England, which had a number of plays where receivers picked up extra yardage after contact.

If you're not going to cover well, you'd better tackle well. The Steelers did neither Sunday night.


Greg Mercer said...

Will Jeff Reed have a job on Tuesday?

Any chance Randle El gets benched in favor of Brown?

i know you run the risk of mistakes with rookies (ie Sanders on that 3rd and goal), but Randle El is not an NFL caliber receiver anymore.

Anonymous said...

The Steelers were very flat, I have to blame this one on the coaches for not having them ready to play. Tomlin had one of the ultimate motivating tools: NE cheated you out of two superbowl appearances, aren't you guys angry? I bet he didn't use it, it was obvious, one team came to play, the other just wasn't motivated.

Anonymous said...

Not surpise by what happen. Brady did what he always does, and LeBeau did what he always does, Same result.

After the NO game must of us predicted this out come.

To me the biggest thing is how is LT? Is he going to play next week?

Kemeatu? Kiesel?

joe said...

giant turd laid by the offense, pathetic.
forget about how good reed was in past seasons, he's done.
tomlin, pay attention to the game, not the big screen, another poor clock management at half.
el fair catching punts time and time again is like nails on a chalkboard.
that offensive performance just stunk clear in illinois

Dale Lolley said...

The defense isn't without blame here. NE moved the ball at will.

As for the whole cheated out of two Super Bowls thing, most of these guys were still in high school when that happened. It's not relevant.

I don't think any of the injuries suffered were serious.

skinley said...

Its time to unleash hell, Tomlin.

adamg said...

It's time to admit that an offensive game plan built for the sandlot isn't going to cut it in the NFL. It's clear teams have figured out that if they just keep BR from running around, he's not a very scary qb. I think we all knew that once his suspension was up, the offense would abandon the running game, start winging the ball around and the sacks and poor passes would come in droves. It's so frustrating to watch every other offense be able to move the ball up and down the field and this one struggle to get even first downs.
Just pitiful. If there isn't an OC change in the offseason, I'll be shocked.

But, I agree the Steelers were awful in all phases of the game.

Anonymous said...

If the tackling had been a little tighter, the Pats would have only been able to dink and dunk their way, to 17 points or so, right, Mr. LeBeau. He's had ten years or so to try something, anything, to answer the Pats' offensive scheme against us. This game was over from the opening drive.

It was more out of whack than usual because of the O-line disaster last night, but Ben and the receivers have got to be able to throw / run / catch quick, short routes. It's just a basic skill that NFL offenses must do. Scrambling and chucking it downfield is not an offense.

Are they really just counting Mendenhall's touches because he's got a dinged-up shoulder or does he have a more serious injury?

Again, at the end of the half, Ben-Tomlin-Arians have absolutely no idea what to do with the clock. (Wasted about 7-8 seconds deciding whether or not to spike, then took time out / Ben putzing around when the only chance at a FG try was a quick pass and time out.)

We're fine as long as we don't play a team with a good QB that's willing to throw 2/3 of the time on offense and/or blitzes alot. Other than that, Super Bowl here we come!

Anonymous said...

I said Randel El should get cut in preseason, he sucks

I said Lewis should play over Gay, Gay sucks and is targeted every week. Seriously, he's played bad and got burnt in 25 straight games now. If u want a good laugh just watch Gay for an entire play, even on running plays he plays like a pussy

Scott is horrible at LT and could have been called for holding like 15 times. Move Essex there for chrissakes. Foster is decent

Anonymous said...


There were some players that were around from 04, but more importantly, it doesn't matter, Tomlin needs to use whatever he can to motivate his players, they weren't motivated like NE was last night.

adamg said...

NE got embarrassed by Cleveland the week before. No surprise they were motivated.

And, am I the only one who thinks BR could have run in for the TD on the 3rd down pass he threw to Miller in the end zone?

BA insists on keeping 3 TEs, but only one catches passes. When Ward went out, why not put Johnson in Spaeth's spot as the "blocking TE" and split Speath out wide? He's not fast, but he's 6'7" and that's certainly a match up problem for smaller DBs. Why not go back to having both Mendenhall and Redman in the backfield together? Is the fall back position always just go to the no huddle scramble? I swear the offensive game plan was better when Dixon and Batch were in.

I think the injuries on the DL to Smith, Kiesel and Hood are starting to catch up and taking a toll on the defense.

marc said...

how about that play call at the end of the first half with 8 seconds left. we need a quick hit 10 yarder or so to get into field goal range, so arians dials up a double move for el and a bunched set on the right where two guys go deep and one guy (wallace i think) runs an intermediate in pattern. great call arians!!

i am also interested in mendy's injury status. dale, can you please provide some insight? imo, mendy is the offensive mvp this year.

and, as i have been saying time and time again, please get gay off the field.

Anonymous said...

Considering that Reed missed his chip shot, and the NE kicker missed his extra point, was there something wrong with the field last night?

Anonymous said...

Dale, do you feel the Steelers need and will do something about Jeff Reed and William Gay?

Anonymous said...

Dale doesnt think about anything

He's the Bruce Arians of journalism

marc said...

there was nothing wrong with the field, graham sucks too. he was only there because new england lost their kicker to injury and needed to pick someone up.

Patrick said...

ha ha ha

I couldn't of called this game any better (even said Ben would throw a pick 6)

Amazing that the whole world knew what NE would do, especially offensively, and the Steelers looked like they had never seen it before.

Third and long is so bad for this team. I'm not expecting a team to convert 3rd and 8 + everytime, but could they at least try and not get sacked everytime?

I have no problem with losing to NE, but not like last night. That was just sad.

team Tomlin is taking this team to the top!

adamg said...

I don't know, the field is rough after having a lot of Pitt and the Steeler games played on it. Reed's first FG was low, too, so maybe they couldn't get a good plant. Just another reason to install Field Turf...

It's pretty obvious now that offenses are designing plays to isolate on Gay. That can only mean they see a player who can be exploited. The Steelers might be better off using Will Allen as the 5th DB.

Joe E. said...

This season is starting to look alot like last year....or maybe 1980. Many of the core players are getting injured or slowing down in mid-season.
The steelers have become what the Patriots could have been if the Patriots didn't trade away several aging veteran players.
The outcome of this game wasn't a surprise. We have the Browns to thank for refocusing the Saints and Patriots.
Blaming Arians and his grab-bag junk offense is easy, but Ben hasn't had played a good full game since his return.

marc said...

i would love to see stats showing targets on gay, completions, yards, passes defended and td's. then compare that with the rest of the secondary.

this is one of those times i wish we were inside arians head. does he think they had a great offensive game because they put up some points and yards in a blowout? or does he acknowledge #7 is not getting the ball out, the WR's failed miserably when it counted the most, and his best player is his RB?

joe said...

i forgot to add it sucks ward was only a few games from number two on the consecutive games streak.

i like what gay has done vs the run, and some blitzing, but his coverage skills are laughable right now. lewis can't be much worse, but last night i saw madison in. start lewis next week.

i'm afraid with all the injuries they will have to move o-lineman all over the place, but they were a sorry bunch last night. knowing that, where were some roll outs, and coaches, run the quick developing plays more for crying out loud.

greg mercer...i hope el is benched for brown.

still annoys me this morning tomlin mismanaged the clock again at halftime. making the same mistakes over and over concern me
oh well, the pats are a good, well coached team, on to next week.

Anonymous said...

LOL at liking what Gay does against the run.

That is the dumbest thing i have ever heard. Gay shys away from contact. He sucks at the run just as much as the pass

marc said...

it's best to have gay blitzing, that way he doesn't have to cover anyone.

ibygeorge said...

BA's playbook is not for this team. The O-line is not there for a running game and the O-line is not there for holding the ball waiting for receivers to get open. How many years does it take to adjust? There is talent on this offense but BA does not see it.

The Defense has been openly exposed and there is nothing that can be done about it except score more points.

marc said...

first half play calling - 12 runs, 21 passes not including last drive with 42 seconds left. good ol' arians doing what he does best.

let's see. banged up, make shift o-line with 2 new guys on the blind side. ward out. so let's air it out and see what happens.

can we just fire the OC midseason? has that happened before?

our best player on offense is our RB and he only has 7 carries in the first half of a 10-3 ballgame!! if he is hurt, then so be it, but if he's not, then someone please run arians out of town. i live in ohio, but i would drive back to give him a ride to the airport if necessary.

Anonymous said...

For those of you who claim to be a fan but gain more enjoyment from accurately predicting a steelers loss than from when they win: seek help you have an inadequacy problem.

Secondly, given how depleted the offense and defense were from a personnel stand point, given the dropped passes in the endzone and given the short field Brady had to work with all second half, I would love to play NE again in the playoffs with a healthier squad.

LeBeau needs to adjust his scheme obviously, but when Brady can sit in the pocket all day he will complete passes against any secondary. Brady needs to be hit if not sacked. He was neither last night.

Anonymous said...

Bruce Arians playbook more resembles a childrens coloring book. Formations and scheme are terrible, inimaginative, and predictible.

Using DJ Johnson as a FB shows his lack of commitment for actually wanting to use one. It was more a measure of him being forced to use one to save his job this year.

Anonymous said...


It sucks even more that Ward's streak would have continued had Belichick not challenged that play.


Anonymous said...

This was definitely a TEAM loss, and it has got to start with the coaches! Tomlin may say the right things, but he is not coaching the right things. I gave them an A+ for the first 4 games, but since BR has been back, they are getting a D+ right now.

The blueprint on how to beat the steelers D is out, and has been out. Why do you think the Ravens upgraded their receiver corps? Saints beat us the same way as the Pats did last nite. Sure, we still have the best run D, but in a pass happy league, that is not up with the times!! It is time for Coach L to start thinking outside the box, especially if we cant get to the QB, and come up with schemes to plug our holes on D!!!! Otherwise we are doomed with a 6-2 start like last year!!

The offense was totally unprepared. The offensive line was not good at all, (never use injuries as an excuse). Santonio PotSmoker Holmes is sorely missed on this team, without a doubt. The play calling is very typical, and has been ever since BR has gotten back. The offense was looking better with Mr Batch back there!!
There is no sense of urgency like we had the first 4 games!!

I agree with Randle El, I would love to see more screens and short passes to get Sanders up to speed. I think he has the moves of Holmes!! Right now, this not a championship team Tomlin keeps talking about.

Patrick said...

when a fan finds it so easy to predict how this team will struggle, and the team goes out there and does exactly that, it is sadly comical.

No one can act like this is anything new. The same problems week in and week out, and the team can't adjust. Its kind of amazing.

Yes or no question to everybody, are the Steelers overrated? I think the answer is easily Yes at this point. I can't see them beating anybody in the playoffs.

marc said...

yes with an asterisk because i do think injuries play a role here.

with a. smith and kiesel i do think they could generate a better pass rush.

with a healthy o-line i do think they could be more effective.

as it stands right now though, imo, they are a wild card caliber team that will lose in the first round.

Patrick said...

I'll agree with you on the injury front, but you can't change that.

Obviously, injuries do make this team weaker. However, injuries don't relate to a lack of preparation and poor playcalling and in game management. Sure having some guys would help on this front, but getting physically manhandled up and down the field by a team in a huge game is just unacceptable. That team came out flat as can be last night. How do you let that happen?

marc said...

who knows. but they can't afford to come out flat two weeks in a row.

on a separate note, how does ward get helmet-to-helmet hits 2 weeks in a row without a penalty? did the bengal's player get fined for his hit last week? are the steeler's brass gonna stand up for their players and rip the league? all this hype about these dangerous hits and using harrison as the poster child then not calling them when it happens to a steeler player is poor and bordering on intentional. is the nfl becoming a smoke and mirrors league like the nba? your thoughts dale?

Anonymous said...

what is sadly comical is for a fan to celebrate guessing right when their team loses because of their feelings of inadequacy. ha ha.

While last week, having guessed wrong, you were much more defensive and aggitated despite the fact the team won. ha ha ha.

Patrick said...

what am i inadequate about? You realize this is a blog right?

I'm certainly not celebrating last night. It's sad. But blows my mind they can't fix things that are so obvious. And when I say a prediction that goes against the Steelers, the people on here think its ridiculous.

Did you notice they almost blew a 20 point lead last week against the Bengals? Then the coach comes out and says hes not worried about it at the moment because they won. If thats the kind of mentality this team has, then maybe last night isn't a suprise. But yes, that sure was agitating.

Thats what I find funny - the inability of a team to adjust and homers who ignore the team's flaws just because they won a game.

kyle said...

as many of you have said, the team came out flat and took far too long to get going. i don't like using injuries as an excuse but think about this honestly: if the steelers had won this game and the patriots were down the left side of their offensive line, both defensive ends, their number one wide receiver, their running back was playing hurt, and their top pass rusher was having back spasms would you be saying "lousy tomlin, they almost let an injury-wracked team come back and win. this team can't hold a lead blah blah blah"?

think about it for a couple seconds.

datruth4life said...


The Steelers were never really in this game to me. The offense couldn't put drives together, couldn't protect the QB or run the ball. The D has no answer for Brady, period. Going fwd, I think Tomlin has to address the play of William Gay and also Antwan Randle-El. Gay got beat for all 3 TD's. He got beat soundly the week before. In four years of being a Steeler, Gay has one interception. And that occurred in the Baltimore game two years ago in Baltimore when he was playing safety near the goal-line. He is simply not a playmaker and can't hold up as a starter or a dimeback. If you want to keep him on special teams, then fine. But this team needs to see what Lewis, C. Butler or even Madison can do. As for Randle-El, if all he does is drop TD's and will get you nothing after the catch as a slot WR, then why is he even on the field? The ball hit him in the hands twice in the endzone and he couldn't make the catch. I understand the whole trick play aspect and the fact that Tomlin likes his sure hands to fair catch punts, but come on. The Steelers need both Sanders and A. Brown's speed and big-play ability on the field. In a way, I think it was a good thing to see how this offense would look with no Hines Ward. Maybe it'll give the coaching staff a kick in the pants to get these young guys ready for game day.

I don't know what you do about the OL problems. Trai Essex was a complete weak link at RG last night. J. Scott made Tully Banta-Cain look like Lawrence Taylor. I've read a lot of criticism about Ben's performance, but I thought he played okay considreing what happened. Dale, your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks that Hines Ward is the Steelers best receiver at this point must rely on him for good copy.

He's washed up. He can't run anymore. 5 of 8 games this season before last night he had 40 yards or less.

adamg said...

Honestly, I thought the OL did okay given all the injuries and shuffling. BR had time to throw, but he doesn't make quick decisions in the pocket and doesn't believe in throwing the ball away, taking sacks instead.

Dale Lolley said...

Let's see here, so many questions:

Brady's success against the Steelers is hardly an isolated thing. He's had a lot of success against pretty much every team in the league. When he's on, he's one of the best to ever play the game.

While I agree that the cornerback play has been poor, Keenan Lewis did little in the preseason when given the opportunity to show that he would be an upgrade. They had Butler active last night and he hurt his quad.

I counted at least three times that Sanders ran the wrong route or wasn't where Roethlisberger thought he was going to be. And he's the more polished player. Now, you want to add an even more unpolished Brown to that mix? OK. But be prepared for the mistakes.

The line is what it is at this point. They're obviously going to have to make some adjustments for that. But in a game against the Patriots – who you know going in are going to put up three or more touchdowns – you have to try to open things up a little bit more than usual.

As for Mendenhall's first-half carries, circumstances played a part in that. They've been using Moore on every third series. They got nothing going the first two series. Then, on the third series, they finally moved the ball a little. On the fourth series, Mendenhall broke off his 34-yard run. But they only had five possessions. And that includes the one at the end of the half.
Yes, Mendenhall had 43 yards on seven carries, but 34 came on one run. That means he had six carries for nine yards on the other carries. Moore had four carries for 14 yards.
The run-pass ratio was 23-11 - not counting Roethlisberger's scramble - but seven of those passes came in the final two minutes. That's not too far out of whack, especially considering the running game hadn't produced much.

datruth4life said...


I hope this isn't too late in the game for Tomlin to try and improve certain areas on this team. I just don't want him to say that William Gay and Randle-el are the best options that we have and never give the young guys an opportunity to step up. One of Kevin Colbert's assignments in next year's draft is to find a long-term answer at WR to pair with WR Mike Wallace going fwd. I like E. Sanders and A. Gibson as return men/slot WR's that can be active on game days but I don't know if either will be pro bowl caliber starters on the outside. With Ward almost at the end, the trade of Santonio and the bust factor of Limas Sweed, what could have been the most talented position on the team is now a big area of need. Colbert has done a good job of surrounding Ben with weapons over the years, so I think he'll figure out this one as well. Probably just as important is getting a few more blue chip prospects like Pouncey on that OL going fwd. One area (like the OL) can't continue to be a weakness year after year after year. Something has to be done to address this area and make it a strength.

Greg Mercer said...

do you think Essex is better at LT than RG? he seems to be more a finesse player and doesn't have the strength to get a consistent push in the running game.

if Kemo can come back this week, i wouldn't mind sliding Essex over to LT and switching Foster to RG. Him and Adams would be a pretty powerful one two punch on the right side.

Anonymous said...

moving Essex to LT makes too much sense, Tomlin and Arians wouldnt go for it

instead Tomlin will just say lets unleash hell and Arians will just say hey Ben do what u want

marc said...

i'm not sure where you're getting your numbers for the run/pass ratio.

not including the last possesion when the steelers passed 5 times, they had 20 pass plays (that includes sacks and a scramble). i was 1 pass play off on a previous post.

for the entire first half they had 12 run plays.

i got the info from espn.

i would say that is out of whack. and the fact mendy had 34 of his yards on one run doesn't mean you abandon the run game.

however, let's be creative here. the pats were run blitzing and getting good penetration on several run plays. wait, dare i say we try some play action passes? no, no, no, let's run XYZ Sandlot Ben on 3. Ah yes, run wallace deep, ward - oh, he's out, randle el over the middle, miller can block then release and sanders will just run around since he doesn't know where to go anyways. arians mind is like poetry in motion, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

all we do is run behind Flozell. Belicheat knew this and stuffed us. Thats why we couldnt run

Both times it was 1st and goal at the 5 we ran the same running play behind Flozell and got stuffed


Dale Lolley said...

I'm also counting their next-to-last possession, which ended after the two-minute warning. They then held the Patriots and got the ball back.

I think Essex would be a possibility at LT, but he hasn't done it in a while. Even in the preseason, he saw very little time at tackle. And when he did, it was at RT.

The young receivers they have show promise. But they're young receivers. Remember, last year with Wallace, all they did was have him run deep. Young receivers take some time to develop.

Patrick said...

oh man , this season is about to get funny:

any word on what kickers they are Dale? Piotr Czech?

Eric T said...

I know Scott is Kugler's guy but he looked pretty bad. Will Hills get a chance to compete with him this week?

adamg said...

Dale, I disagree about opening up the game right out of the gate. The best defense, to me, would have been time-consuming, grind it out drives led by the running game.

All defenses give something to take away something else. It's up to BA and BR to figure out what the defense is giving and exploit it.

If the OL isn't great at holding out the rush, then try timing patterns and quick releases. Shouldn't an NFL qb be capable of that? If defenses are trying to keep BR in the pocket, then try a roll out once in a while.

kyle said...

A few things: "timing patterns and quick releases," don't work when one WR is running the wrong routes (Sanders), another is too small to fight off a press (Wallace), and the third is Randle El.

Also, you guys kill me with these magic combinations on the OL. There is one very good player on this line, he's a rookie who is playing above average. The rest, no matter where you put them or who you pair them with are B- players at their top dollar best, F at their worst. Mixing and matching isn't the answer, offensive strategy is. We already know how Arians is with that.

Lastly, maybe this will cheer us up, it did for me. In every significant statistical category for QBs Tom Brady is trailing Drew Brees (except TD passes) who is 2 years younger than he is. Keep that in mind next time someone (jaworski) says "one of the best ever" "future hall of famer" or "one of the top two in the game." It should go without saying that he's also trailing Peyton and Favre.

Anonymous said...

Wow, if Brady's overrated we're worse than I thought.

Anonymous said...

"if Kemo can come back this week, i wouldn't mind sliding Essex over to LT and switching Foster to RG. Him and Adams would be a pretty powerful one two punch on the right side."

you have no idea how much I would love this!

I knoe trai would struggle a little in the run game, just like he does at guard, but he's a better pass protector than scott. Scott imo is merely a serviceable backup, but you don't want him starting, especially against belichick or teams with great defenses. Either foster or legursky next to flozell would be a force. Essex + flozell isn't much of a force

I just hope kemo's back next week, not because foster was bad, he did pretty good, but it might ignite changing the line a little bit

Greg Mercer said...

does Lebeau field questions from reporters after the game? i find it very disheartening that a Hall of Fame coach is so incapable of stopping this sort of attack.

is our personnel that much worse than the Browns, Jets, and Ravens?

Steve-O said...

A little perspective guys. They are 6-3 with losses to the Superbowl champs and the perennial contenders in New England and Baltimore. Our team is plagued with injuries and the young back-ups are going through growing pains. Is there room for improvement? Yes of course there is but this "end of the world" drama needs to be kept in Cincinnati where it belongs.

Dale Lolley said...

I keep hearing "hall of fame coach." Dick Lebeau went to the hall of fame as a player, not a coach.

Doesn't change the fact that he's one of the best in the business. But Brady has done what he did Sunday against a lot of teams.

Greg Mercer said...

you don't think his coaching had anything to do with him getting inducted? i do. part of his cache is that he's been active in football for the past 100 years (sarcasm).

i agree that Lebeau is one of the best, but on half of those completions, we weren't even within 5 yards of the receiver.

also, our ineffectiveness vs. the Pats predates Tomlin and the one common thread is Lebeau. or maybe it's the 3-4... what do i know :)

Just gotta bounce back against the Raiders.

Go Steelers!

Dale Lolley said...

They play defense the way they play defense. And they do so because of the players that they have. The Steelers value larger cornerbacks who are strong in run game support. Those guys tend to be bigger than most corners.
As such, they also tend not to be as good at covering in short space.
Against most teams, their defense works. But Brady threaded a couple of balls into spots downfield that weren't really open. His first TD pass is a prime example of that. Gay's coverage was really pretty good.

marc said...

gay's coverage was not good. the receiver got behind him. brady did not have to zip it in there. he could have lobbed over the top and it would have been and easier completion.

also, would you consider gay a bigger corner? i wouldn't, and he still can't cover.

Dale Lolley said...

If he lobs it in there as you suggest, it gives other defenders a chance to react to the ball - particularly that close to the end zone where everybody was grouped up. There's a good chance the pass is broken up.

marc said...

broken up by who? both safeties were out wide and not even close to the play.

yes, maybe too deep in the endzone, but no one was going to help out to break that pass up.