Visit NFL from the sidelines on the new Observer-Reporter site:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Not a lost season ... yet

Fans tend to focus on only their own team - hence the term fans.

But those writing the Steelers off aren't looking around at the rest of the AFC right now.

Who's any good in the AFC? Seriously?

Houston, the supposed best team, just got spanked at home by what was a struggling Green Bay team.

Baltimore? The Ravens have been fortunate to win their last two games. I know, good teams find ways to win, but Kansas City fumbled five times last week - including once at the Baltimore 1, and Dallas really outplayed the Ravens Sunday.

The defense has given up more than 400 yards rushing the past two weeks and just lost its middle linebacker and top corner for the season.

New England? Stuck with a group of seven other AFC teams at 3-3.

Cincinnati? The Bengals have lost to the Dolphins - at home - and Browns - on the road - in the past two weeks. Nobody is going to confuse the Dolphins and Browns for good teams.

Fact is, every team in the AFC has its flaws at this point.

Do the Steelers have some as well? Certainly.

But we tend to forget that they are still learning this offense, whether they admit it or not.

And the defense isn't nearly as good as it has been in recent years. But it might be good enough if the offense stops kicking field goals and starts scoring more touchdowns.

Look at it this way, if the Steelers score one more touchdown per game, rather than kick a field goal, they are 4-1 right now rather than 2-3.

That's a play here or there. It's that close.


Mark said...

I realize this is off-topic, but the Steelers woes had me thinking of Decastro on the half-year IR. Have any of the other NFL teams used this option?

Get so caught up with the Steelers, sometimes I forget that other teams might also be in similar trouble due to injuries (like Baltimore, now).

marc said...

dale, i hear what you're saying about the offense getting TD's instead of FG's, but i still put these losses on the defense. in their 3 losses this year opposing teams have had 8 4th quarter possessions and scored on 7 of them. the word "atrocious" comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

several teams are using the half-year IR. its not just a new rule for the Steelers

Ravens are using it with Suggs for example

Anonymous said...

Suggs was on the PUP list, which is not new this year. That's why he's eligible to return to practice this week instead of next, whereas DeCastro still has to wait.

Anonymous said...

Some numbers on Brown from last game.

"Brown's first eight targets resulted in three catches for 13 yards and no first downs. His last three targets: a 7-yard gain on second-and-7, an incompletion, and a 10-yard DPI."

Dale Lolley said...

I realize the defense is bad situationally. But that's not going to get any better.
The offense can. The offense has upside. If this team is going to make the playoffs, the offense has to take off.

marc said...

well, i don't disagree with you there. but, i don't see how the offense will be able to do that with a decimated o-line.

and, i'm starting to get a little concerned looking forward. these young guys on defense (for the most part) just aren't fulfilling their roles. if they aren't able to develop into solid starters, then this team will struggle for a couple years as management tries to replenish.

Anonymous said...

It is time for Mike Tomlin to make this defense his. He has spent the last 5-6 years drafting 'his' guys and square-pegging them into a Cowher/Lebeau defense. He has gotten away with it with the help of a lot of Cowher holdovers, but as those guys get old and leave (A. Smith and Farrior; Foote, Keisel, Harrison, and Hampton soon to follow) the new guys don't appear suited to step up and fill in. Outside of Woodley and maybe Heyward (if he ever sees the field), most of these guys game from different schemes with those knocks coming in. This team has spent a lot of premium picks on defense the last several years, it is time to scheme to those players talents, unless the answer is they are busts which is another argument for anohter day.

Steve-O said...

Dale your point is a good one. The frustration for us fans is that the Steelers are mired in mediocrity and it's their defense that is holding them back. Yes their offense is still evolving but the lack of pressure on the quarterback and the lack of interceptions (35 players are from other teams have as many or more interceptions than the Steelers whole team) has defined this defense as soft and that's not something we've come to expect from our team. We don't expect parity to win the day for us and we certainly don't expect the Steelers to wallow in it!

John Kang said...

Our defense has looked "not quite old and slow," but I think we will turn it around just like last year. Hopefully, someone will step up and fill the veteran leader role that we lost so much of.

Jim said...

I agree with you, Dale. The defense has been bound to start slipping one of these years and the offense has been primed to start ascending. At the end of the day, I think that was the main reason for the Arians/Haley swap, because the offense wasn't getting better and the time to do so was definitely now.

And I have to say the offense appears better, even if they are still picking up the scheme. Trading touchdowns for field goals was the difference in both the Denver & Tennessee games. The hope they do keep getting better every week and the mediocrity of the AFC in general are the two things I keep reminding myself over the last few days. Hopefully some of those hopes come to fruition and they don't turn out to be just the disillusionment of a Steelers' fan.

Dale Lolley said...

They are averaging 3 points per game more than they scored last season. If they can get that total to seven more - which is possible - this team will be fine.

As bad as everyone feels the defense is - and it has faded in the second half of road games - it's still a top 10 defense in the league right now.

If the offense goes out and puts up 17 to 20 first-half points in those games, it takes away the opposing running game. Those running games have hurt them in Oakland and Tennessee.
Make the other offense one-dimensional and the stops will come.

rocket9 said...

They aren't prolific enough on offense and it's mostly because they start slugs like Foster and Colon (who has been almost a complete disaster). Losing DeCastro was a huge blow and I don't hold out hope that he's coming back and saving him this year. The D is in a deep decline. But the ST's have also been pretty bad and they are a very undisciplined squad with the penalties. Add to that that Tomlin still isn't a field general when it comes to strategy and thinking clearly under pressure? I think they'll be lucky to get a wild card even though they are in a weak AFC. Need to reload in the offseason and also change out the DC but Butler is ready to take over anyway.

Steve-O said...

I may be critical of the defensive play but replacing the DC is not the answer. Dick LeBeau can do his part to out scheme the opposing offenses but he needs the players to execute the plays. As of late the talent level ain't what it used to be, can't blame him for that.

Mark said...

The Bears just dropped Chris Williams. Even though he was replaced by Jonathan Scott, do you think the Steelers might try to get him? He's a veteran who has played all the OL positions, in good health, and not too expensive. Maybe a change of scenery will revive his career.

Anonymous said...

Steve-O : A good coordinator not only comes up with a scheme to beat the other team he also comes up with a scheme his players can succeed in. No plan is any good if you don't have the talent to fulfill it.

Steve-O said...

I agree, but you can only do so much in the NFL with mediocre talent. Dick LeBeau has PROVEN he is an exceptional coordinator. You don't last as long as he has if you don't have the ability to adjust your scheme to take into consideration the talent on your team. But the margin for that is very thin in the NFL and a lack of depth/talent will prove that out. Right now, that is the problem for Pittsburgh.

DAVE said...

Do you think the Steelers are also feeling the effects of a leadership gap? I wonder if Hines and especially Farrior (despite their declining abilities) would have made a difference in the close games.

Dale Lolley said...

Tough to follow leaders who aren't on the field.

Patrick said...

the other side of this coin is they beat the jets and the eagles, who just fired their defensive coordinator.

They are close to being 1-4 too.

marc said...

both those teams have lost due to their QB play alone. sanchez stinks and vick is amazingly erratic so far this year.

on a side note, i like how reid fires his DC when his choice of QB is the sole reason his team sucks.

regardless, the steelers aren't going anywhere unless the defense improves.

DAVE said...

Clearly you can't follow leaders who aren't on the field, but the question my comment begs is this: Has the leadership gap been filled and is this 2012 team experiencing the effects of losing long-standing captains? (Farrior especially was the unquestioned leader of the D)

I'm not arguing that the Steelers should have kept either player, but when talented teams lose close games, don't reach their full potential and play without discipline at times, it's fair to ask who is leading this current collection of players.

Dale Lolley said...

Roethlisberger and Keisel are the unquestioned leaders. That whole point might be overrated. The blew leads in 2011 as well.

I think this team will be fine.

Anonymous said...

Dale, hypothetically, if neither Mendenhall or Redman can go on Sunday, if Batch will be in a workhorse role or if dwyer would be in the mix as well.

Dwyer would have to be active so I'm wondering which of the two would start if you think Dwyer has a chance at being in the mix.


DAVE said...

Good to know. I just thought, as with other areas of change on this team, there may be a slight learning curve.

I'm 100% with you on the assessment that we'll be ok. In fact I posted the following on my Facebook page to the pessimistic Steelers fans I'm friends with:

"We've had some bad games and poor finishes, but there is much hope. We play down/up to our competition all the time. We're injured but not out for the year kind of injuries. The losses were heartbreaking but not devastating, other than the final score, you could say that the Steelers outplayed their opponents. The Ravens on the other hand have been outplayed recently but finished with the winning score...these kind of things tend to correct themselves over time. These are correctable problems. Add to that, if Denver wins tonight there will be exactly TWO AFC teams with winning records right now. Plenty of time."

Dale Lolley said...

Dwyer would likely split carries with Batch if that were to happen. But I expect one or both of Mendenhall and Redman to play

other_patrick said...

While I agree with your assessment that the team can be ok if the offense heats up, I don't think it's fair to say the defense is top 10.

We're #31 in opp 3rd down conversion and mid-pack in scoring defense. I think the top 10 status in yards/game stats is more a product of the time of possession dominance that comes from long drives by the offense.

Anonymous said...

who cares if Farrior was a leader? He sucked on the field last year, was a huge liability

cant believe we are even talking about Farrior