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

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Post-Eagles thoughts

We got a good look at what life without Mike Wallace could look like for the Steelers on Sunday as Wallace did a nice impersonation of the invisible man against the Eagles.

Oh, he was out there, as could be judged by his two catches for 17 yards and a couple of dropped passes. But it was certainly not one of the better games in Wallace's career.

With Wallace blanketed and struggling, the Steelers were forced to look elsewhere. That got them Antonio Brown missing a catch in the end zone and Jerricho Cotchery stumbling his way to the 2-yard line on what should have been a touchdown.

@ The people who wanted to get rid of Rashard Mendenhall need only look at the game tape from Sunday to see the difference between Mendenhall and the other backs on the Pittsburgh roster.

I have to admit - even though I wasn't one of the dump Mendenhall crowd - that I didn't think the dropoff between him and Isaac Redman/Jonathan Dwyer was as great as it actually is.

But there it was right in front of me Sunday at Heinz Field, as Mendenhall showed the burst that Redman and Dwyer just don't have.

Though he is in his fifth NFL season, it's easy to forget that Mendenhall is still just 25 years old.

@ Funny what a running game - or at least the threat of one - can do to a pass rush.

The Eagles didn't record a sack Sunday and rarely even seriously pressured Ben Roethlisberger.

@ I asked Mike Tomlin after the game if he is concerned about his defense giving up another fourth quarter lead.

He simply replied, "No."

But it has to be troubling.

Pittsburgh allowed Philadelphia to gain just 246 total yards and gave up only two touchdowns. But both came in the second half.

Certainly, Philadelphia got 30 yards of their first TD drive on a pair of personal fouls and had to convert a pair of fourth downs on the second one, but the Steelers have to find a way to get stops in those situations.

@ James Harrison made his presence felt in this one, even if his stat line didn't show all that much - two tackles, three QB hits.

It was especially important considering that LaMarr Woodley is out for the time being with another hamstring injury.

You have to figure that the Steelers will be without Woodley and Troy Polamalu on Thursday night against Tennessee. Polamalu left in the first half as well after his calf injury flared up.

Couple that with the possibility - and I'm saying possibility here since who knows how the NFL will rule this - that backup safety Ryan Mundy could get a one-game suspension for his second helmet-to-helmet hit on a receiver in the past two games, and the Steelers could be down to Ryan Clark and Will Allen backed up by rookie Robert Golden at safety against the Titans.


Lance said...

A few thoughts on the game. Mendy's return was big, he made all the difference in the run game. Tw on here and elsewhere that take hits from the fans, but really showed up to me today where Timmons and Worilds, I thought they played well as well as Hood, but the big drive in the 4th was concerning. I was glad to see hampton on the bench more this game as well.

Colon was killing us...this team needs to start being concerned about the penalties/

Hope Thursday looks better!

James said...

It was interesting with Colon because he seems to block with his arms on the outside of the lineman's shoulders and it looks like he is holding but the flags were only thrown based on weather or not the lineman fell to the ground or not because he held just about every play otherwise.

Just a thought

Patrick said...

I'd be ok if Mundy was suspended for the rest of the season. He is horrible and I'm sick of watching him. I have a feeling the coaches don't want to bench him because they are afraid of a guy coming in and being out of position allowing a big play.

But I think its about time to try someone new. I assume Troy is going to be injured often this season, so it might even make some sense to try and trade for a safety - not a top notch guy but a backup with upside.

Onto the game, this was kind of a weird one. The sloppy play is killing this team and when they start executing consistently they will be back to the team we thought they were. But its hard to complain about the offense not allowing a sack, not turning the ball over, establishing a run game and the D showing serious improvement. Timmons was really impressive.

Anonymous Brian said...

That was Timmons's best game in a long time. That kind of game is why he can be so frustrating when he goes invisible. Maybe Harrison being back helped him...

Kudos to Ben, Haley, & O-line for the no sacks -- shocking. I really like what Haley seems to be trying to do. Better execution, gelling as a unit, etc., and the O could be really good. Mendenhall is tailor-made for Haley.

Great to get to .500. Sloppy early season win is always good.

Polamalu's got crazy calves. Even in the 2008 playoff run wasn't he always iffy with one of the calves?

Anonymous said...

Mundy getting suspended would help the team. Not hurt them.

Dale Lolley said...

On at least one of those holds, it appeared that he just demolished the guy in front of him. The second one that was accepted looked more like a hold.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't mind seeing Golden fill in for Polamalu. It would be nice to plug in a guy capable of splash plays.

adamg said...

Was at the game and tried to watch a lot of the line play through my binoculars. I'm not a Colon fan, but at least 2 of the holding calls on him were cheesy. On one, it looked like he cleanly blocked his man down. On a second call, he and the DL were wrestling with each other and the play was not only long past both of them, but nearly over, when they fell, Colon landed on top and was slow to get off the DL. That's when the flag was thrown.

The flag on Mundy was bad, too. The ref did not even reach for it until the receiver laid on the ground for several seconds. It sure looked like the flag was for the result, not the hit.

Overall, the officiating was bad. If not for the two awful calls (Clark, Mundy) on Philly's first TD drive, no one would be talking about the Steeler defense giving up the second TD because the Eagles would have been shut out to that point.

marc said...

the guys on D came to play. that was nice to see. timmons was the monster he is supposed to be. hope he keeps it up. good job by the d-line too. i hope this game becomes the norm instead of the exception.

to this point, i would have to say haley is a huge positive for this offense over previous years. the gameplanning is good, the designs are good and #7 is playing well.

troy's injury looked more like a cramp than anything else. i hope they were just being cautious and sat him down.

alexrkirby said...

I was ready to flip on Timmons early when he missed that easy sack on Vick but he did play better as the game went on.

I too didn't appreciate Mendenhall enough.

Wooldey hurts his hammy AGAIN. Has he heard of running and exercise? It cuts down on injuries like that.

The Mundy hit wasn't that bad. He made contact with his should first and then their helmets glanced off each other after. If he gets suspended that's BS.

adamg said...

Didn't see what happened to Troy, but, iirc, it was on one of the Vick fumbles. He was near the visitor's sideline and I saw him hop all the way across the field on one foot. I saw him sitting on the bench in his uniform for a long time, so maybe a good sign as I'd think it's not good to sit outside in the cold and rain with a muscle injury.

Agree about Haley's offense. It's really good, very diverse and not predictable. When Antonio Brown can make 8 or 9 catches when the defense is looking to stop him, you know how well-designed the plays are. The O would have put up at least 2 more TDs had Cotchery not tripped at the 2 and either Brown or Wallace been able to catch balls in the end zone, although both would have been very good catches if made.

The game-winning drive took around 5-6 mins and walked off the field as the clock ran out. It doesn't get better than that.

marc said...

on the replay, the play ended and #43 started to walk away when he all of a sudden jumped up, limped a bit, then hopped across the field. it was definitely a non-contact injury.

problem is, you never know when these guys are playing hurt. #43 could have easily hurt it earlier, was playing through pain, then it finally gave way.

if it is anything significant, i don't think the steelers can count on him being available on a consistent basis the rest of the year.

btw, wills someone please let wallace know that when your QB throws up a jump ball, you're supposed to "jump" and go for it.

joe said...

the first qtr was some of the worst football i have ever watched in the both teams !

clearly this team needs some discipline. wallace looked like he thought he had somewhere better to be than the game yesterday, what's up with that ? i like wallace and hope they can work something out, but he looked disinterested yesterday.

worilds looked good, great to have mendy back. arians never used him correctly, ever. timmons...keep it up game in game out.

polo injured again was expected.

not a big fan of thursday night football and the short week.

any word on spence, or is it to early to know if he will play again ?

Anonymous said...

Wallace tried to jump but was bumped before he could extend. Loved what Mendy brought in this game, but he still carries the ball like a loaf of bread. To make things worse, he swings the arm w/ the ball through traffic. HIGH and TIGHT

Anonymous said...

Wallace tried to jump but was bumped before he could extend. Loved what Mendy brought in this game, but he still carries the ball like a loaf of bread. To make things worse, he swings the arm w/ the ball through traffic. HIGH and TIGHT

11:57 AM

Could not agree more about Mendy. He should watch tapes of the Bus going through the line.


joe said...

i agree about "loaf of bread" do you rip off a guys shoe after the play, throw it, and not get penalized ??!!

marc said...

totally agree, that happened in a brown's game earlier this year and there was no penalty called.

bytor said...

didn't get to watch the game so I need some insight on the sudden emergence of the running game. How much was Mendy and how much was the line finally executing their assignments?

adamg said...

Mendenhall did a good job hitting his holes and fighting for the extra yards. The OL blocked well, too. But also, Haley did a good job calling running plays that started quickly, cut against the grain and otherwise exploited Philly's wide set defense.

During the game-winning drive, it really appeared the Steeler OL was taking it to the Eagles. Both Mendenhall and Redman were going for nice gains. It's exactly the kind of football the offense has been missing for the last few years.

Anonymous said...

Steelers need to hire some new Conditioning Coaches. They seem to have way too many pulled muscles/conditioning issues, every year.

KT said...

Nice write up Dale.

Any insight into the nature of Polamalu's "Calf Injury." A lot of other scribes in the blogesphere seem to be suggesting that this injury could signify the end.

I am no fool not to realize that Troy's not going to play into his late 30's given the wear and tear on his body.

But, while I don't want to minimize anything, the calf itself doesn't have a lot of moving parts, and on the surface doesn't sound like a serious injury.

But that's why guys like you are in the locker room....

bytor said...

KT, while you can play through pain with a lot of musculoskeletal injuries, you can't even walk normal with a strained calf, let alone run. It is an injury that usually takes a few weeks minimum before you can run.

Anonymous said...

I have a recurring calf issue caused buy a bulging disk, wonder if that may be Troy's deal also?

Dale Lolley said...

A lot of other bloggers are throwing crap against the wall with Polamalu. He's over 30 and has a nagging issue, therefore, he's done.
That's BS.

It's kind of like a certain radio talk show host in Pittsburgh who started saying in, oh, about 2001, that Bettis was done. Kept on saying it. At some point, he was going to be right.

adamg said...

With all the supposed emphasis on player safety, why is this block still legal?

How much different is this than a clothesline or grabbing the facemask, both of which are 15 yd penalties?

Henigin said...

Two comments:

1. Dwyer had a better burst until he got a turf toe injury in the home opener against the Jets. I'd wager that if he gets healthy this season without that limiting him, he could be the active one over Redman on gamedays and you won't see as much of a gap between him and Mendenhall, though Dwyer is clearly not as talented.

2. I won't be at all surprised if both Mundy AND Clark are suspended. Clark has received his fair share of fines for helmet-to-helmet hits, it was only a little bit after Mundy was flagged for the same thing, and Clark's hit was just as avoidable, if not quite as blatant. That would leave the Steelers without their top 3 safeties, and with that it will make the game with the Titans much more worrisome than it should be.

Tim said...

Clark's hit was not helmet to helmet. It was ruled late, and although he did hit the guy after the whistle blew, it was JUST after the whistle blew, and the runner was still fighting for more yards. It's not like Celek was down, it was a judgment call by the refs. That should allow Clark some leeway.

Unfortunately, we have Troy Aikman or whoever it was calling the game outright lying by calling Celek a defenseless receiver (wrong, he'd been running with it for some time) and saying it doesn't matter whether the whistle blew or not, that Clark shouldn't hit him if it looks like the play will be over soon.

adamg said...

Exactly correct, Clark was called for a late hit, not a hit to the head. Celek caught a pass, was engaged by a Steeler defender, tried to get away, was caught by another defender and still struggling as he was in the process of being taken to the ground when Clark hit him (shoulder to chest it looked like to me seeing it live). Don't want those plays to happen? Blow the whistle when forward progress is stopped.

Justin s said...

i think defence is a little bit of a problem, penalties are a big problem to. i think they can clean up the sloppy play but they have a lot of injuries on defense.

Anonymous said...

robert golden is prob a better option than Mundy in the first place.

Mundy is a guy who cant succeed in this new league as he is cheap like Jon Lynch.