Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Top 100 thoughts

The NFL Network recently completed its top 100 list. I'm not a big fan of such lists, but the network has to come up with something to fill its airwaves during the NFL dog days of June and July before camps open.

The Steelers were well represented on the list once again, with six players, led by safety Troy Polamalu at No. 19.

Interestingly enough, Polamalu's spot on the list was one ahead of Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis and three behind Ravens safety Ed Reed.

James Harrison was the second Steelers player listed, coming in at 29th. That's not bad for a player who fought through an injury-plagued 2011 season and also missed a game due to suspension.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was ranked 30th, which sounds low until you consider he was the fourth quarterback on the list. Roethlisberger was ranked below Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady, and one spot ahead of Eli Manning. It's tough to argue with that pecking order.

Wide receiver Mike Wallace came in at 47th, which some people likely have a problem with. I don't. Wallace is a special talent and ranking him as the fourth-best player on the Steelers' roster is a nod to that.

Center Maurkice Pouncey ranked 49th despite coming off what I considered a so-so year for him. I thought Pouncey was better as a rookie than he was last year, but the fact that he has already stepped into a leadership role shows how he is thought of by his teammates and peers.

Finally, despite playing just half a season in 2011, linebacker LaMarr Woodley ranked 63rd on the top 100. Woodley was well on his way to earning a spot higher last season and could be primed to put up a monster season in 2012.

@ Longtime O-R sports writer Mike Kovak is leaving after 13 years here to head off to Johnstown.

For several years, Mike was the second guy with me at Steelers games. In fact, we covered the playoff game in Tennessee in 2002 together.

On the drive back, we decided to stop at a Shoney's in Kentucky. As I was at the breakfast bar, I noticed two guys with hooks for hands.

I made mention of this when I got back to the table. Lo and behold, there was another guy sitting near us that also had a hook for a hand. There were three in one spot. Don't know if it was "Hook for a Hand" day at Shoney's or what.

Maybe they got a discount for thresher accidents.

But Mike will be missed.

44 comments:

Tim said...

I've heard a lot of people say Pouncey backslid this year, but I didn't really see it. Just curious, in which games did you see him underperforming? I counted only one, the finale against Cleveland, but he was coming off injury.

Dale Lolley said...

I didn't think he was as good as he was the previous year. Period.

Tim said...

Alright, that's what I thought. But you're not alone. Coincidentally, it's a popular opinion.

Dale Lolley said...

It's my opinion. I expected him to continue to improve. I thought he would take a big step forward. I didn't see that last season. Maybe it was the guys playing next to him.

alexrkirby said...

I'm hoping his ankle was holding him back and that his offseason surgery will make it right.

Anonymous said...

i think Pouncey will be great next season now that he will have 2 big mauling guards next to him

Darren said...

I was the same way Dale. I'm hoping it was a case where he felt he had to do too much because of low quality teammates and this year he can focus on his job and move on up.

Steve-O said...

Pouncey will be just fine. His sophomore slump by most standards was good, just not great. With the interior lineup he's going to be working with and a healthy ankle I look for big things from this line.

Anonymous said...

Too bad they weren't women with hooks for hands. It is always fun to pick up a "hooker" at Shoneys. :)

Anonymous said...

Let's give Pouncey some credit. I would go out on a limb and say that Legursky and Foster were the worst starting guard tandem in the league. Anyone have a strong argument otherwise?

Tim said...

Yeah. Legursky and Kemo was worse.

Foster improved a lot this year and played pretty well (for a Steeler lineman). Legs and Kemo, not so much. But Foster is a force in the running game. He can really move people.

Regardless, Pouncey will be better off this year than either of the last two.

kyle said...

I agree with Tim about Foster. He's not great pass blocking but he's big and strong, two things that Legursky will never be. I've seen people talking about Foster not making the roster this year, which is crazy to me. He's a young, cheap, experienced lineman and I would be very happy to have him be the swing guard/emergency RT on gamedays.

Anonymous said...

Foster sucks. But yeah they are not going to cut him

Anonymous said...

Legursky over Foster hands down.

kyle said...

Legursky over Foster.

If you're talking about backup C, sure. If you're talking about backup G, nope. As smart and agile as Legursky is, once a big DL is in front of him, he's a liability. If you need him to pull, or lead block, or step in at C, he's good enough. If you need him to push someone out of the hole, he's not good enough.

I'd be very surprised if Legursky and Foster don't both make the squad. I don't think either of them get outplayed by the 7th round pick or the UDFA. Not to say that those players don't ever work out -Legs and Foster were both UDFA if we need reminding - but your two starters from last year becoming your top two backups is a pretty nice problem to have.

Tim said...

Anyone who takes Legursky over Foster at either guard spot didn't pay very close attention last year. In 2010 I might have agreed with that, but last year Foster caught Legs, surpassed him, and left him in a cloud of dust.

Also, although Legursky's reputation is that of an extremely smart player, I thought he made his share of mental mistakes last year and didn't appear to be any more on top of things than any of our other linemen... well, except Kemo of course. He has the edge at backup C, but not at OG -- and don't forget, his last game at C was pretty ugly too.

Anonymous said...

Ned said...

Why is everyone hating on Bronco. Legursky filled in well while playing in a patch work o-line. I admit he isn't NFL starting material, but he is a good backup center or guard. As long as DeCastro and Colon start at guard we don't have to worry about Legursky or Foster starting unless injuries occur.

Anonymous said...

rumors that Sean Spence could start

anything Dale?

Dale Lolley said...

That is nothing more than speculation at this point.

Lance said...

I seem to remember talking about the talent of Spence on here after the draft. His nose for finding the ball in traffic and his football IQ. I thought he was a solid pick up then and stand by it. He will be getting on the field this year, he is not going to start, but he will see plays.

I also remember indicating Adams would start and getting a lot of push back on that assesment...just sayin...

bruinmann77 said...

Dale any chance of the steelers adding a WR in case Wallace holdout in camp

Anonymous said...

steelers should sign TO

Matt said...

I agree with Anonymous, "TO" would make for a good 5th WR on our depth chart. :)

Matt said...

Whatever the reason Chris Rainey wasn't drafted in the first 4 rounds was, i'm glad we got him in the 5th. This guy's elusiveness is on par with Barry Sanders and comparing him to Darren Sproles is just unfair. Sproles is much more stright line and without as many tricks, kinda like Ray Rice :). Also Rainey apparently ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at the Combine which is the same exact same time as Mendenhall, interesting right? No, not really because when you turn on the tape Rainey makes everyone look like they are running in slow motion and he is in fast forward, I expect that to translate to the NFL. Here is a Youtube Videos of him: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5u19K8Vv8Lc

alexrkirby said...

If Rainey is half the player Sproles is the Steelers should be happy. The guy was a fifth round pick for a reason. Let's temper our enthusiasm just a bit.

Anonymous said...

Stfu Rainey will be a pro bowler

Matt said...

According to Profootballfocus.com over the last 3 years Chris Kemoeatu gave up the most sacks of any guard (12) in the NFL and had the worst "Pass Blocking Efficiency" ratio allowing 70 total pressures on 1263 pass protects. Chris was notorious for getting beat off the snap of the ball like no other. Weather it was because of his slow start, being the last lineman to react to the snap of the ball usually. His trademark lunge, typically resulting in a whiff. Or just getting sheer overpowered, i'm glad that it's over and done with. Also please don't anyone try to defend him by saying "oh well Ben holds on to the ball too long", stop it.

alexrkirby said...

Pro Football Focus had alot of interesting numbers covering Steelers players. They questioned why Pouncey is so highly regarded because his numbers aren't that great.

They also point out that Woodley is one of the worst tacklers amongst outside linebackers while Harrison is one of the best.

They grade the worst and best block TE's too. And Miller isn't either, he's pretty middle of the road block and catching.

Starks seemed to actually grade OK with them, he didn't make their worst tackles list. Go fig.

Anonymous said...

Max Starks signed, any thoughts?

alexrkirby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
alexrkirby said...

Hopefully the next thing we see is "Jonathan Scott cut"

Tim said...

Profootballfocus is all over the map. Through the first 16 weeks of last season, they graded out Heath Miller's run blocking as below average.

I hope I'm not considered just a homer if I disagree. That'd be like calling Harrison's pass rush or Wallace's speed below average. And I'm not just going off of popular opinion. I graded 12 of those games, and his rating was sky high.

Tim said...

Matt's right. Chris Rainey is as elusive as Barry Sanders.

!!!!!!!!!! :-O

Matt said...

Chris Rainey is most comparable to Barry Sanders, you can see the flashes. Watch at least these highlight videos and tell me you don't see it for yourselves
Rainey: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5u19K8Vv8Lc
Sanders: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUVFZYYzHPU

Tim said...

I understand what you're saying. I know what elusive means.

Tyler Palko is comparable to Joe Montana. See the way they both throw the football?

Anonymous said...

Tim, the first thing you're wrong about is Heath Miller, PFF has him listed as an above average run blocking TE and in the top 10. When you get past the front page and into the premium stats you see this.
Second, "the first 16 weeks" would only be counting the first 15 games of the season and leaving out week 17 at cleveland where Miller had his best run blocking game of the season according to PFF. (I don't care that you meant the first 16 games)
Third, you were given a specific when Rainey and Sanders were being compared (elusiveness) as opposed to you THROWing around a category (pun intended) when sarcastically comparing Palko and Montana when you should be trying to make your point based on a specific such as footwork, accuracy or arm strength.

Matt said...

Man... Anonymous must really not like sarcasm.

Tim said...

How come when I try to leave this page while the comment box is empty, it asks me if I'm sure, but when I press the Preview button while the comment box has like 1,000 words tearing Anonymous a new one, it erases everything?

Empty box + close page = Are you sure?

Full box + preview = Work deleted and cannot be recovered.

Summary:

Anonymous, you put words in my mouth and then used them to say I was wrong about Miller. I only used the first 15 games intentionally because PFF gave him a negative run rating at the end of those games. That's what I'm calling nuts; the idea that after 15 games he deserved to have anything but an excellent run block rating. To call it negative makes me wonder what they even consider good blocking. I got it right the first time, not wrong. Also, chill. Even Matt got my point. How did you miss it?

Matt,

I thought you went too far. I get that he's elusive and he reminds you of Sanders, but to say he's on par with Sanders in ANY way is at best premature and at worst insane. When you went on to say he's "most comparable" to Sanders, you got even more crazy, because now you're bringing in aspects beyond just elusiveness. Sanders was a great power back, even though he never got credit for it. He was strong as hell and hard to bring down. He had the very best vision and the very best acceleration and probably the very best top speed. He was also the perfect third down back. He could block and catch (although not asked to do much of that) and of course was the very best in space. Rainey is a 30 pounds-lighter college player who hasn't done anything. If you're going off of projections, then he projects as a jitterbuggy scatback and special teamer like Dexter McCluster, Stefan Logan, or maybe Dante Hall. After I see him play some NFL snaps, I'll be happy to issue a new comparison. I'm happy with the draft pick and I hope he can make some splash plays for us like he did at Florida, but (are you listening Anonymous?) comparing him to the greatest of all time after being a college player with some great plays and nice games resulting in a mid-round pick to me wouldn't be so different than if someone compared Palko to Montana prior to Palko's first NFL season. Also, I'm not sure what you meant by saying it's unfair to compare him to Sproles, but I know that if he's half as impactful as Sproles, I'll be thrilled.

marc said...

comparing rainey to sanders is far-fetched. there is a reason the guy was a mid-round pick. he's small and not especially strong. his highlight reel is fun to watch, but against mostly inferior teams.

please keep in mind, against top 25 teams he averaged 3.7 yds per carry and only had more than 52 rushing yards one time. he scored 4 td's on the year (2 rushing, 2 receiving) and never scored one after the 3rd game of the season.

basically, rainey tore up the creampuffs at the beginning of the year then the good teams did a good job of containing him, except for south carolina.

but, i do think it was a great pick by the steelers at that point in the draft. i really look forward to seeing how they develop him over the next few years.

PFF Protector said...

PFF only gave Miller negative run blocking ratings in week 6, 7, 8, 9, 12 and 15. Not all of the "first 16 weeks" like you claim. Get the facts straight before ramble on and continue to provide false information from PFF.

Tim said...

The total of them was negative. I didn't say each and every week they gave him a negative rating, I said after 16 weeks they gave him a negative rating. That's true. I can understand how you may have misinterpreted my remark when I said "at the end of those games," because you thought I meant all the games individually when I really meant all the games total. But if you'd read the rest of my post and the post I made before it, it would have been more clear for you. In any case, maybe next time you should get your facts straight before you provide false information about what I said.

Here is the quote, from week 17: "Heath Miller (+5.3) entered the game with a negative rating for run blocking..."

And here is the link: http://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2012/01/03/re-focused-steelers-browns-week-17/

So I'll say it again: after 15 games, Heath Miller had a negative run block rating from ProFootballFocus.com. I don't think they'd deny that or take issue with what I said. Why are you?

My issue is that I don't have him graded negatively for run blocking in ANY games (I did not grade weeks 12 and 15 though, nor did I grade 3 or 14), and in fact his score is so high on the games I did grade that I can't even imagine how they are doing this. To try to understand, I just re-graded week 6, and I counted 2 shaky blocks that I understand being graded as negative. In the same game he had 2-3 pancakes, and completely dominated the rest of the game, entirely by himself and almost entirely against a defensive end. I don't see how a game like that can come out negative. For more, here's my link: http://www.thesteelersfans.com/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3176

Joe Jones said...

this is too funny. Matt is hilarious.

It is just beyond outrageous to think that a representative from PFF would come on a steelers blog message board to protect the dignity of the website from some guy named Tim, who's words seen by hundreds could sabotage the PFF website.

this was truly a great laugh.

bruinmann77 said...

Dale what is your top 5 camp battles?

thanks

Anonymous said...

Rainey vs anyone who stands in his way