Monday, September 26, 2011

Post-Indianapolis thoughts

How does Mike Wallace just disappear from the game plan as he did in the second quarter?

I know the Steelers turned the ball over three times in the quarter, but it wasn't like they did so without running some plays.

And yet, the team's best playmaker had four balls thrown his way in the first quarter, resulting in three catches for 129 yards and a score – and then nothing.

If I'm throwing a bubble screen or something of that sort, it's going to Wallace - sorry Hines Ward.

© Those pick plays the Colts run are pretty much unstoppable if the officials aren't going to call the picks - and they didn't.

The Steelers did do a great job for the most part, however, of limiting the damage on them - at least until the Colts' final drive, when they seemingly couldn't get anyone on the ground.

© Ike Taylor wasn't credited with a tackle in this game – and that has to be a misprint - but his impact was this: Reggie Wayne 13 targets, three catches, 24 yards.

Will Gay, who got the start on the other side, was also solid once again. I know he's a favorite whipping boy on the message boards, but Gay and Keenan Lewis have played well enough that the Steelers aren't in a hurry to push Bryant McFadden back into the lineup.

© I feel badly for Jonathan Scott.

I know, I know, he had a tough game. But do you blame Scott for that, or do you blame the people who felt he was capable of blocking Dwight Freeney?

© It sure would help matters in a game like that if Ben Roethlisberger didn't hold the ball so long - but that's beating a dead horse.

© The Steelers running game produced 10 yards on 10 carries in the first half. Then, they finally decided to start running straight at the Colts rather than sideways.

That resulted in 57 yards on the ground in the second half.

© Scott, by the way, looks like he'll be out for the next couple of weeks.

He was in a walking boot after the game.

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

That is too bad for Scott, injuries are going to a concern this year!!

I am so glad you said that about Wallace, we were saying the same thing last nite. With his speed and playmaking ability, GET HIM THE BALL!! I could not believe we could not run last nite, even when we started the game throwing.

I still contend that it will be a very long season if we continue the turnovers, some 15 since the Jets game last year, just something to think about.....

So Dale, do you think the steelers will give Flo another call, or is that a thing of the past? What about Starks??

adamg said...

Said the same thing about running AT Indy instead of going wide. Traditionally that's the way to beat small, speedy defenders.

Actually thought Ben mostly did a good job of not holding the ball too long and throwing it away instead of taking sacks.

Steelers left a few plays on the field like Sanders dropping a sure TD and Troy just missing a pick and taking the handoff from Painter plus the missed FG.

And, for everyone in a panic, it's not easy to win on the road in the NFL. Ask NE and NYJ how they made out yesterday.

adamg said...

Forgot to add that Antonio Brown had an outstanding all around game. He gave the offense consistently good field position on returns and made a couple important catches.

It hasn't been mentioned, but Deshea Townsend is a coach in Indy. Who knows the Steelers and their personnel better than a guy who spent over a decade playing in it and retired only a couple years ago?

Anonymous said...

Dale,

The O Line play was atrocious last night. No push on the run plays and Indy's DE's bullrushing our tackles right into Ben. Ben is gonna get his ankle or knee ripped out. Having said that, Mendy's play is terrible. HIT THE HOLE!!! When Mewelde hits it harder than you that is a problem.

Do you think it is time to sit Mendy for a game?

Anonymous said...

The steelers offense is averaging less than 16 points per game. They can't outscore a paper bag.

superfan99 said...

Dale,

On the Steelers' final drive, Mike Wallace wasn't on the field after the two minute warning. He took a pretty big hit on that quick slant he caught right before.

Do you know why he didn't return?

Thanks.

marc said...

quite simply some of the worst offensive line blocking ever, in the nfl.

maybe i'm wrong, but was it in the 4th quarter the steelers finally started keeping a RB in to help block?

i know wallace had a great game (when they went his way) and deebo/troy were awesome...but i thought heath miller made some absolutely huge plays in the passing game.

Anonymous said...

watch the bears line, much much worse

we're right there at 31st though

adamg said...

They were chipping a fair amount of time with either a TE or RB.

Heath Miller was fine catching the ball, but he was terrible run blocking on screens and sweeps all game.

marc said...

maybe they were chipping, i can't say i noticed too much of it. but it certainly wasn't working. they needed to keep a RB in for help and that didn't appear to sink in until later in the game.

datruth4life said...

Dale,

Tomlin has to admit to himself and the team that Aaron Smith is a shell of himself and should not be starting. He just cannot do it anymore. Chris Hoke is done also. McClendon and Heyward have to get more time in the rotation and Ziggy should be starting at LDE when Keisel is healthy.

I do not know what you can do about the OL, besides resign either Starks or Flozell Adams. I'd rather resign Starks because he still might have a few years left where I don't think you can depend on a 37-year-old OL to do anything. It's a shame that this OL can't run the ball or pass block because Ben probably has the most weapons on offense that he's ever had.

Last night wasn't one of Ike's better games but the Colts helped him with dropped balls and overthrows. Lastly, William Gay is playing better but Keenan Lewis has to give up a 10-yard cushion on every play just to be able to step on the field. No way in today's NFL can you expect to create turnovers that way. Has Lamarr Woodley and Timmons just got their money and have relaxed? I don't think so but I'm not seeing the production on the field. After the first 3 games, I can clearly say that the Ravens are the better team this year. Kevin Colbert has the offseason to fix this OL and let go of a lot of veterans, including Smith, Hoke, Farrior, McFadden, Will Allen, Arnaz Battle.

Anonymous said...

offensive line is so pathetic

its Pouncey and a bunch of garbage

great job Steelers management!

marc said...

i really think timmons is having problems because the DL is not getting the job done. several times last night the DL was getting pushed back into the LB'ers. not much you can do when that happens.

it appears to me that woodley has packed on some weight. he seems a little slower. maybe he needs the offseason workouts to stay in shape?

joe said...

i didn't realize i could be embarassed by a win. now, i realize i can.
that was pathetic on too many fronts to even comment on.

adamg said...

Despite the conventional wisdom, the OL gave BR enough time to throw. He dropped back 37 times and was sacked 3 times. That from a defense that was teeing off on the pass rush. They produced 408 yards of offense. Don't turn the ball over 3 times and weren't not having a whine and cheese party.

The fact is, BR is a very difficult qb to protect because he DOES NOT step up into the pocket. The linemen never know where he is on any given play and therefore don't know where to drive the defender.

They could have a good run game, but the OC and the QB simply don't believe in or emphasize it.

Anonymous said...

Granted, it's hard to tell what you've got as a fan until midway through the season sometimes, but unless the Steelers' play drastically improves over the next month or so, they're not going to the playoffs.

The best we can hope for it that it really is a matter of tinkering, better execution, Hey, A Road Win Is A Road Win, It's Only September, etc.

But looking at the schedule -- Texans, Titans, Jags, Cardinals on the road, Pats, Ravens -- I'm not feeling so confident other than the Jags game.

Yes, Ike had a good game but he was also helped by some bad misses by Collins and, of course, he made his usual one boneheaded game-changing mistake, which fortunately Curtis Painter wasn't warmed up enough to take advantage of.

As for the two obvious issues:

O-Line: Who knows, we've had poor O-lines recently, maybe by some miracle they'll gel into a slightly below average line as the season goes on instead of the worst or second worst (Bears?) unit in the league.

D-line: If Aaron Smith is done, he needs to be a backup. To a lesser extent, Casey Hampton needs to stop whining about cut blocks and keep his fat behind in place.

Given that we're going to be in close games all year long, Ben CANNOT turn the ball over so much. He has to be aware of the game situation when he's trying to extend plays. It is much better to punt from mid-field up 10-0 than to hope a rookie tackle (who did a good job on the play initially) keeps Robert Mathis off you forever. Also -- and this is useless since he will never change -- he can't take sacks in field goal range in a tie game in the fourth quarter.

Redman needs more touches.

Keenan Lewis did a great job with the fifteen-yard cushion on third-and-11. Right, Dick?

Even when we do run a screen pass (not the stupid WR screen that they throw 43 times a game, 38 of them to their slowest receiver) to Mendenhall or the cute little slip to Miller, no one is ever in a position to block anyone. It always looks like they've never practiced it before. It just seems like it should be a basic staple of an offense in the NFL, they should be able to execute it professionally sometimes. For years, they have been unable to. I guess because Ben is a bad short/swing passer and the OL trips over itself alot?

The two times this defense has played an NFL team this year, they have been gashed on the ground.

Woodley is a fat cat.

Speaking of Aaron Smith, what's the deal with Farrior ?

You're right about the coaching staff / FO on Jonathan Scott. Yeah, this week it's Freeney. But you've got Suggs again, Mario Williams, etc., etc.

Hopefully we can manufacture some wins in the next month or so.

marc said...

you going to count how many times he ran for his life (QB Pressures) as well?

Robert K said...

The defense played OK for much of the game except that last drive.
However, had Manning been suited up they would have been exposed. Guys were getting open but Collins/Painter couldn't get them the ball.

Kolbert, Ben and Arians are to blame for the offenses struggles. Ben needs to learn to throw the ball away, Kolbert needs to take the oline more seriously and Arians just needs to learn more about playcalling.

adamg said...

Outside the sacks, I think he moved around about 3 or 4 other times. He certainly wasn't running for his life every pass as you seem to imply.

Like it or not, this is what BR is. He holds on to the ball and runs around trying to make a play downfield. I've seen him ignore receivers open short in order to go for the deep ball. I wish he didn't insist on playground football, but I'm not naive enough to think he's going to change.

marc said...

i'm not sure what game you were watching. yes, there were plays he had plenty of time to throw. but there were many many more than the 6-7 pass plays you suggest he was pressured/sacked.

no matter how you cut it, the OL's performance for the game as a whole was terrible. and the excuse that their "mindset" was not right because of the play calling is bogus. i can't stand arians and his philosophy and his play calling, but if the OL can't block because their "mindset" is not right, then get out of there and give someone else a chance.

also, pouncey gets included in the bunch. he sucked it up just like everyone else.

Anonymous said...
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Homegrown Misanthropist said...

What about Sanders jump after the interception, I thought that was a terrible mistake. Right when he saw the ball was intercepted he disengaged himself completely from the play, jumping clean at the defender without the slightest intention of touching him while on the ground. Had he done that the ball would have been placed at the fifty yard line instead of the fifteen. I believe it shows a lack of commitment and mental concentration. He was lazy on a couple of routes too.

Homegrown Misanthropist said...

By the way, Antonio Brown has shown quite a lot so far, every play he was involved he performed greatly. A star in the making.

Anonymous said...

The Steelers just don't look that good so far. Troy looks more like a girl every time I see him.

adamg said...

Since this is his second year and he only got into games later last season, I'll give Sanders the benefit of the doubt that he forgot where he was and reverted to college rules where the play's dead when you hit the ground. Thinking that and not wanting a late hit penalty would easily explain why he jumped over rather than touched the DB.

Dale Lolley said...

As usual, some good comments and the usual morons coming out of the woodwork.

Lot of stuff to get to.

I found it interesting that Mendenhall wasn't in at the end of the game when they were running their last couple of plays. I know Tomlin talked about the packages. That works for the two-minute stuff, but what about when you're just running deeper into field goal range?

I have yet to hear Casey Hampton whine about the chop blocks. He has been asked continually about it by certain media members looking for a story. He continually said he wasn't going to bitch about it. Finally, after about the fifth question about it, he gave them a sliver of an answer. And that's bitching? Siding with the player over my media brethren on this one.

Lot of quick throws by the Colts, hence the lack of a pass rush.

Tim said...

adamg,

Offhand I remember the quick pass to Ward where Miller appeared to whiff. My take was that Miller was setting him up to go outside, and Ward jumped inside. But Miller was right. There was more space outside, and that's the way they normally run it.

I thought he did well enough blocking the rest of the game. We had much bigger problems with David Johnson and the OL.

Tim said...

They don't call late hits for two-hand touch, and thinking you're still in college even in your first NFL preseason game is moronic. Emmanuel Sanders was clearly not thinking at all, and his jump over the interceptor cost us 3 points, and was more inexcusable than his drop, which might have cost us 4 points.

Although, it wasn't as bad as Jonathan Scott's, "If I don't believe it, it's not happening" decision not to go after the ball/ball carrier despite the fact that he watched the entire play unfold after missing his block.

Someone needs to show this team (and the rest of the NFL) some tape of what effort looks like.

Eric T said...

Ben has been kinda off this year with his accuracy. Even some of his completions have not been in the right spots (ie, not leading a receiver). 8 turnovers by him in 2 road games tells me we are lucky to be 1-1 in those games.

He is not the only person to blame, but he needs to raise his level of play considerably. It's not like the OL has recently become poor at pass blocking.

adamg said...

No offense, Tim, but I've seen many instances of young players forgetting they can get up and run when they go down, but aren't touched and conversely not touch opponents who are not down by contact. I'm sure that's all it was - a mistake, not some convoluted theories about lack of effort or anything else.

Eric T said...

Miller was terrible at blocking this game, especially on runs and screens. He made some nice catches though.

marc said...

give me a break. the guy hasn't played a college game in over 2 years. he was ticked off because he was open and #7 air mailed it. he quit playing because all he thought about was the bad pass.

you want to make the arguement that he "reverted" to college rules? how about the fact there was no whistle? aren't football players taught to keep playing until they hear a whistle, even in college?

it was a stupid, lack of focus, lack of attention to detail, mental error that cost his team points.

if the steelers want to beat the texans, they better get back to the basics, or plays like that and many others will lead to a blowout at the hands of playoff caliber teams.

Mark said...

I'm worried that Farrior made two late hits (Collins last play, receiver out of bounds) that weren't flagged, but could easily have drawn penalties. Veterans play over younger players because they are supposed to be smarter than that.

Anonymous said...

Unfair characterization of Casey Hampton's words aside, the D-line has gotten shoved around in the two games they played against competitive teams. I'm worried that it's got more to do with just getting overpowered/outplayed than that old fight between Bill Cowher & Mike Shanahan about borderline legal zone blocking techniques. Aaron Smith has not looked good, for instance. I think this is the largest concern for the team, because it has a trickle-down effect on the rest of the defense.

On a positive note, Harrison looked pretty strong on quite a few plays, like he's starting to feel better, and saved the game for us with the forced fumble, until Ben & Mewelde had to save it again.

Ben Morgan said...

There were some things that really concerned me about this game. First and foremost it's that Indy, I think, did a fantastic job at gameplanning for this one. Not in the sense of their playcalling, which was limited by their personnel but they did such a great job of blocking to specifically negate our usual strengths. They all but took Casey out fo the game, legally or otherwise, I'll always maintain it's only illegal if you get caught. Saturday looked like he was 10 years younger and it's easy to see why when he's been missing in the past the Colts have fallen to bits. Hopefully Pouncey will take a look at the tape and see an old master at work and learn something. I also noticed them double teaming Aaron Smith on the run plays a lot. Again, smart play from the Colts.

On the other side of the ball they seemed to concentrate on negating Pouncey and it worked. I guess they knew Gilbert and J Scott would be overmatched against Freeney and Mathis so they could afford to do it. This may be why Mendy looked hesitant most of the first half. But that really concerned me, sometimes a RB just has to bury his head in the pile and get a 1 yard gain, not stutter around in the backfield and lose 3. Got to question Mendy on that.

I have to question the drop off in intensity during the second quarter as well. We were dominating up til then and it felt like they thought they already had the game won.

rocket9 said...

With J.Scott out for a while, and Gilbert dinged up (along with just about everybody else along the line..dinged up mediocrities for the most part)it looks to me like they have to sign someone from outside the org...Starks/Flozell seem like they aren't coming back (Starks is trying out for Chicago today apparently) and Flozell wants too much money. I can't see Gilbert as a LT right now. Too green. And I shudder to think that Essex is their choice. What a mess.

Tim said...

adamg,

A mental mistake like that is a lack of effort. If you and I know what to do at home, and this professional has no clue, I don't know what else to call it. If he was doing his best, he would have done what any 5 year old could have done and tagged the guy. A stronger effort means stronger concentration and an elimination of mental errors. Especially ones like that, which have NO place in the NFL. A stronger effort means he doesn't think, "Interception! Dang..." He thinks, "Interception! What do I have to do now?" And just because other people do it all the time (I've seen it once or twice too) doesn't mean anything except that those people aren't giving it their all either.

Mark,

I don't remember Farrior's hit out of bounds at all. I haven't re-watched the game yet. But his hit on Collins was 100% clean. Not too late, and nowhere near the "danger zones" of head or legs (despite Collinsworth calling it a hit in the head). A flag on that play would have been a loogie in the face of the sport. Although, it's not like it would have been the first, so maybe you're right.

Pistol said...

Dale,

Why would they even consider leaving Scott without help until late in the game?? I re watched the game and i def have been critical of the line but thats asking too much for 90% of the tackles in the league!!

Henry said...

Redman scores last week from a shotgun draw play.

Yet we don't run one draw play against the exact style of defense you should.

Unacceptable

Darren said...

Aaron Smith is one of my favorite players. It is a case where he just needs to regain his strength or is he done and the coaches won't bench him because of his years of excellence? I hope he can get it back because he does not have it right now and he was getting shoved around by one guy. It used to take three guys to move him a little. Very sad.

Dale Lolley said...

The play on which Roethlisberger was sacked and stripped by Freeney was supposed to be a draw. Somehow, it got messed up.

That's why Scott let Freeney run upfield. Then he turned and saw Roethlisberger dropping back to pass, and then tried to get a block on Freeney.

Steve-O said...

It's hard to knock Scott for what he is, a backup offensive lineman who was taking on an all pro defensive lineman and woefully overmatched. That strip play might not have been his fault but it's undeniable that he is not equipped to withstand the onslaught of the upper tier defenses that will come his way.

To the Steelers credit they went into a road team's home field, knowing they were desperate for a win, particularly in prime time and they came out with a win. This team has a long way to go to gain respectability, but an ugly 2-1 team is better than a pretty 1-2 team any day.

Anonymous said...

Dale,

Ed Bouchette reported that "One source on the team said the run calls against the Colts looked nothing like the ones they practiced the week leading up to the game". Is this a case of very bad Oline play or is Mendy improvising and not running the plays that are calle? Are the Steelers dissatisfied with him? Any word from your end?

Thanks,

Jimbo (exile in Philly)

Anonymous said...

actually Steve-O, J Scott is our starting left tackle not a backup

Vaflyer said...

Anon,

I think Steve O's point was not what role Scott was playing for us, but what role his talent level was. He IS our starting LT...his talent is that of a backup RT.

Vaflyer said...

Running plays not the same as practiced?

That leads to SO many questions:

1. Is it the RBs?

2. Were they trying to adjust during the game and therefore called different things?

3. Did they just abandon the gameplan?

4. Was it due to injury or what the Colts were doing?

?s 2 and 3 concern me the most. If they were running completely different crap then they practiced to adjust in-game, what did the coaches screw up in the gameplan? If they abandoned the gameplan early, I would want to know why?

I see a lot of people say, well we could run the ball if we had a FB, but I am not sure based on Sunday that it would be true. The hole wasn't there. If you have a hole for the FB to go through, where the RB can get past the LB into the 2nd level I agree a FB would help, but for the most part Sunday night, there were no holes to go through.

Discussion down here in Carolina yesterday on local sports talk radio was about Ben. They decided he may not be Elite, but he is Clutch. Not sure I disagree....

marc said...

i think it is expected that adjustments will be made to the game plan in every game they play (offense and defense). it doesn't necessarily mean they screwed up the game plan, rather maybe the colts did something new they had to account for. i don't think it is a big deal.

i think the biggest concern regarding the OL is the fact they got pushed around. miscommunications happen and can be fixed. but, when the OL gets outmuscled then there is a serious problem that cannot be easily fixed.

btw, that is by far the best way to describe #7. he is too mistake prone to call elite, but he certainly comes thru in the clutch 9 times out of 10.

also, it was interesting to see how A. Brown's return capabilities were nullified in the kickoff area as the colt's punter boomed the ball to the back of the endzone every time. i've noticed several teams using someone other than their placekicker on kickoffs and expect that to grow in the next couple years if the rule doesn't get changed back. the broncos (yes i know they are a mile high) have not had a kickoff returned against them yet. talk about reducing the risk.

datruth4life said...

Vaflyer, I kind of disagree with the masses on Big Ben not being elite. I think he is elite but he just hasn't played that well this year. I really would like to see how well he could play with an above average to good offensive line. His decision-making so far this year has been bad as well. Even elite QBs can have down years. Just look at Drew Brees this past year. The encouraging thing is that Ben is still in his prime and has more weapons on offense now than he has ever had (WRs - Wallace, Sanders, A. Brown, Ward, Cotchery, TEs - Miller & Saunders, RBs - Mendy, Redman, Moore). Its all on the OL holding up and Ben making better decisions.

Am I the only one noticing that Aaron Smith is a shell of himself? I think he is a big component of the subpar run defense thus far. I think it is always better to cut some veterans a year early than a year late. I think the Steelers have a few veterans on this year's team that they maybe should have let move on and used some of that money to try and help the OL. Smith and Hoke come to mind. I also think they have enough at ILB to move on without Farrior. Foote, Sly and Morty Ivy on the practice squad are enough to get by with there. The Steelers cannot put an ILB on the field anymore that can't keep up with the Ray Rice's of the world out of the backfield on pass coverage.

marc said...

datruth,
if timmons can't keep up with ray rice, then none of our LB'ers can. but, i do agree that, at the very least, we need to start rotating in the younger LB'ers as farrior appears near the end. rotating in foote just doesn't make any sense to me.

Anonymous said...

they should have re-signed Keyoran Fox to replace Farrior. Farrior sucks now. Foote also sucks. Where's Sylvester at???

Ravens signed T Bryant McKinnie and he has been playing well. Steelers should have done that. He would have helped us big time. Now we are going to suck

Management is dropping the ball

Anonymous said...

Now we know what happened to Mike Wallace. Tomlin said he suffered a ribcage muscle injury.

Dale Lolley said...

I know, the sky is falling …

I think the changes in the run game may have been some audibles or last-minute changes due to what Indianapolis was doing, but I'm not sure of that.

I do know that they went back to the game plan in the second half and we more effective, I believe 16 carries for 57 yards in the second half.

Anonymous said...

I think it's safe to say the time has come to spend a #1 pick on a starting LT next draft.

Dale Lolley said...

Tough to do when you're picking at the bottom of the first round every year. Plus, they think they've got their LT of the future in Marcus Gilbert.