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Monday, November 21, 2011

Things that make me go hmmm

The Steelers have scored points on 60 percent of their opening possessions of the game. On all of their other possessions, they score 34 percent of the time.

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians scripts the first 15 plays of the game and - seemingly - they work well.

It makes me wonder why the team struggles so much after they're done with the script.

Part of it, I'm sure, are adjustments made by the other team. Another part of the blame could also fall on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's shoulders.

Roethlisberger calls audibles quite a bit and sometimes it just doesn't work.

Perhaps the best thing would be for the Steelers to run Arians' scripted plays and then go to a no-huddle, when Roethlisberger seems to be at his best.

© Pittsburgh is unbeaten when it scores on its opening possession, 1-3 when it doesn't.

© It's been a tough couple of weeks for quarterbacks, with Jay Cutler going down on Sunday.

This came after Matt Cassell, Matt Schaub and others were lost for the season the weekend before.

It shows why the league has the protection rules in place for its QBs. We'll see tonight how Tyler Palko does replacing Cassell.

© If that wasn't a touchdown by Cincinnati's Jermaine Gresham in the fourth quarter against Baltimore, they should just stop playing the game.

Gresham pulled the ball in, had it under his control when he crossed the goal line and took three steps.

Then he lost the ball when he went to the ground.

If that happened in the field of play, it's a catch. If he were a runner and did that, it's a touchdown.

But since the ball was thrown, it's not a score?

Ridiculous. It's a rule that needs to be changed.


Anonymous said...

That was clearly a TD by Gresham. The NFL is turning into a joke.


Robert K said...

Could it be that Arians can script the first 15 plays well but isn't a very good in game playcaller?

Either way something is wrong. Despite all our talent on offense we are middling when it comes to scoring.

Dale Lolley said...

If you can script 15 plays at the beginning of the game that work, it should translate into being able to call a good game as well.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - and I'm no great supporter of Arians, though sometimes it seems that way - the quarterback changes a fair amount of plays. You can bet he's not changing to runs 80 percent of the time.

Joe Cinocca said...

Gresham was robbed on that play. I hope the Bengals can bounce back and give the Ravens & Steelers a run for their money. Plenty of football left to catch up.

Tim said...

Not to mention the blow to the face Suggs gave Dalton. A lot like he did to Ben in the playoffs last year. On both plays the refs had other weird things to think about: was it intentional grounding? and was it a pass or a fumble? If James Harrison does either of those, it's a penalty and a fine. Maybe the Steelers need to arrange for some kind of distraction for anytime Harrison breaks in. I hear Chris Hoke does a good dance. If he's not in maybe we could just toss a beachball or stick a pinwheel on the field, since the refs are apparently so easily distracted.

Anonymous said...

Three of the four games they didn't score TDs were the Ravens (twice) and Texans. Maybe some of it's just the defense being better.

I've gone from being an Arians-hater to just shrugging my shoulders and saying, whatever, as long as Roethlisberger's still here...they're joined at the hip anyway.

Middle-of-the-pack offense for any stat that matters (points, red zone efficiency...).

Dan G. Switzer, II said...

It's hard to judge scripted plays from the rest of the game for a couple of reasons:

1) The plays you script are generally ones the team is executing well in practice or feeling most confident about.

2) The plays are designed to take advantage of the Defense's weakness

3) Defenses will adjust to what you're doing.

Tons of teams script an initial set of plays. Just think about how many times a team playing the Steelers have driven down the field on the first series and scored and it looked like it was going to be a long day. Then after that first drive, the D adjusts and the opposing team barely sees another scoring opportunity.

Happens more times than I can count. As a matter of fact, I've stopped being concerned about what the opposing team does to the Steelers D on the first series.

James said...

Arians doesn't get enough credit for the way he calls a game, and LeBeau gets to much credit. That is just how Pittsburgh is, and if we do win it all this year it will be because of the offense not the defense. I for one am glad he came back, and I think if I had to chose between the two it is LeBeau who needs to go.

marc said...

no doubt all coaches are open to criticism. lebeua does make his share of mistakes.

however, imo, there is no comparison between lebeua and arians. the defense that lebeua has built, the system he has in place, is not only incredibly succesful, but enduring as well.

arians, on the other hand, is considered "successful" because his QB turns crap plays into 3rd down conversions, TD's, and big gainers. arians fails to establish a consistent rushing attack and his offenses are routinely below average in the red zone.

i will admit, i think arians has been better the last couple years than he was before that. but i still think he makes way too many mistakes to be considered a high quality OC. and you can't use #7 changing plays at the line of scrimmage as an excuse. arians gives him that freedom, which makes it arians responsibility. if he doesn't like the plays, then tell #7 to stop changing what is called.

adamg said...

I don't think a coach can stop a qb from audibling. Anyway, it's too late to put that genie back in the bottle with BR.

We really don't know how many plays BR changes and if they turn out to be great calls or busts. Personally, imho, he audibles a lot and that probably has much to do with the offense bogging down during the game and what seems willy-nilly plays.

I still don't like BA, but, to be fair, he might be taking more of the blame than he actually deserves because of BR's changing plays so much.

BoJangles said...

Our unbelievable ability to convert 3rd downs the past two seasons has kept us alive. We've been near tops in the league both seasons. I'm not big on Arians, but as long as we continue to have deep runs he'll be around. Ben plays hero & that's part of his game, I love the guy. 7-3 at this stage is great considering we have yet to peak on either side of the ball.

datruth4life said...

Enough with the Arians bashing. How about getting some players that can execute? If Ben is calling too many audibles or too many passing plays, then it's Tomlin that needs to put a stop to it. The same with all the sacks that Ben takes for holding on to the ball instead of getting rid of it.

And isn't it amazing how much better LeBeau's defensive calls are when you have a healthy Woodley and James Harrison on the field.

marc said...

i don't disagree. tomlin should be part of the equation if they don't like the audibles.

i just think this offense should score much more than it does. they are currently 19th in the league in points per game. with the talent they have, they should be better.

Dale Lolley said...

Much like him holding the ball too long waiting for big plays instead of taking what is there, you take the good with the bad with Roethlisberger because he's a winnner.

As for the other teams marching down the field on the opening possession, the Steelers have allowed four scores - just two touchdowns - on opening possessions this season. Of course, they are 1-3 when the opponent scores on the opening drive.

Mike said...

It was not a catch and I'd bet if it happened against the Steelers all the posters here would agree. The issue here is replay. The league needs to make rules that stand up to frame-by-frame review.

If you are get hit before securing possession, you need to maintain possession as you go to the ground. Gresham didn't do that as he used the ground to trap the ball in his hand after it was knocked free (granted only knocked out a bit).

This play would also not be a catch in the field of play. A runner can never encounter a problem like this because they don't have to catch the ball (or have already secured possession before contact).

This rule is the only "new" rule I can think of that benefits the D. I think it's good that two hands on the ball and two feet in the end-zone don't necessarily mean a TD. The D should have the opportunity to dislodge the ball with a good football play (hit or swat).

Even if you don't like this rule, you have to admit that it is 100 times better than the rule it replaced. I don't think that the term "football move" was ever defined.

Both this play (and the one by Calvin Johnson) would have been catches if not for mistakes by the WR. In both cases, the player uses the ball to brace their fall. WRs need to be coached to get two hands on it and fall on your shoulder/back/rear/head. It goes against human nature, but it's the difference between incomplete and 6 pts.

Mark said...

Maybe the first 15 plays are scripted by committee? And after that, Arians makes more of the calls directly? (This is pure speculation, no evidence that I'm aware of.)

marc said...

i would not agree. no matter who, what, when, where or was a catch. the WR obtained possession, took 2 steps and crossed the goaline with the ball in his possession.

whether or not this rule is better/worse than the previous rule is immaterial. the fact is that this rule sucks.

Jim said...

20.2 points/game for the first 5 games, 23.6 points/game in the last five (and the average would be even more skewed if you make the split after 4 games instead of five). The offense has been much better since the O-Line stabilized, particularly after the reunion with Starks. Their only disappointing outing in that stretch was against Jacksonville, when they were blanked in the second half, but I think you have to tip your hat to the Jacksonville D on that one -- they aren't all that bad. And the scoring has been all offense. The only defense/special teams score the whole year was against Indy -- take that out and the difference is even more stark.

marc said...

even at 23.6 pts per game that puts them at 12th in the league in a tie with the bengals. surely, one would think there is more talent on the offensive side of the ball for the steelers than cincy. they just aren't realizing their potential.