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Monday, September 09, 2013

Post apocalypse Monday

I, of course, wrote the headline to this post rather tongue-in-cheek - at least partly so - because in 21 years of covering this team, I've actually seen worse performances.

The Steelers have won some of those games, taking the sting out of a poor game, but I get why fans are so down following Sunday's 16-9 loss to Tennessee.

Let's face it, the Steelers hadn't lost a home opener since 2002, so fans got used to the team coming in and dominating the opener. Heck, so did I.

Let's look at that 2002 season. The Steelers actually opened 1-3 in the month of September that year - losing the home opener to Oakland after getting whipped in New England in Week 1.

Kordell Stewart was pulled as the team's starting quarterback in favor of Tommy Maddox and the Steelers rebounded to go 10-5-1.

By the way, 2002 was also the last time the entire AFC North all started 0-1 as well.

Sunday's yardage total of 195 was the Steelers' fewest yards gained in a game since Sept. 19, 2010 when they picked up just 127 in a 19-11 win at Tennessee.

The Steelers went on to play in the Super Bowl that season.

In 2008 the Steelers gained 181 yards in a 15-6 loss at Philadelphia; 237 yard in an overtime win over Baltimore at home; 229 yards in a  win at Washington; and 238 in a win over Dallas at home.

They went 12-4 and went on to win the Super Bowl that season.

None of this is to suggest that the 2013 Steelers are a Super Bowl team or anything like that. It's just that teams have bad games.

Certainly, the Steelers' bad game was compounded by season-ending injuries to Maurkice Pouncey, Larry Foote and LaRod Stephens-Howling, but this whole scrap the season thing that I'm seeing everywhere is a bit extreme.

Let's wait until the season is halfway over and see where the Steelers are at before we start making plans for next year.

@ As replacements for Pouncey, Foote and Stephens-Howling, the Steelers signed center Fernando Velasco, placekicker Shayne Graham and re-signed Jonathan Dwyer.

The Graham signing tells me that Shaun Suisham's injured hamstring - suffered in pre-game warmups - is worse than expected and he could be out a couple of weeks.

Velasco started 16 games for Tennessee in 2012 - including 13 at center - and he was released just last week, so he might be capable of being ready for Monday's game at Cincinnati. If not, Kelvin Beachum will get the start, though he didn't perform particularly well there Sunday.

As for Foote's replacement at inside linebacker, the team will look at Kion Wilson and rookie Vince Williams. Wilson was active Sunday because he's the better special teams player of the two, but Williams is actually listed as Foote's backup.

That could just be for accounting purposes - you've got to list Williams somewhere.

Wilson is obviously the more experienced player as a three-year veteran. But the team could decide to let Williams take the job and run with it.

That was how Foote first broke into the starting lineup back in 2003, stepping in for injured Kendrell Bell. There were some growing pains early on, but he became a solid starter.


Anonymous said...

If the Steelers win next week, it will do a lot to make me forget about the rough start.

Zac in tempe

Anonymous said...


You're more of an optimist then me. i try and to refrain from over reaction, but i can't remember that last time this team played a good game. Redskins in October of last year? To the eye test they just look like a bad, bad team.

Anonymous said...

Any coincidence the Steelers decline is related to the recent hands on approach of of Art Rooney II?

I've often heard him referred to as "stuffed shirt" around Pittsburgh. not quite sure what it means, but i'm pretty sure it's not a compliment.

I mean, Dan certainly wouldn't mandate the team run the ball and fired bruce arians

Anonymous said...

Hi Dale,

What about starting Carter or Worilds inside (Jones and Woodley outside)? Most of the time the linebackers are moving all over the place anyway, why not put the best for Athletes on the field and run with it. It might help them get more pressure on the QB!!

Dale Lolley said...

Not being an optimist. Just pointing out the facts.

As for not having played a good game since Washington, I would disagree. How quickly we forget wins at New York against the Giants and one over Baltimore without Roethlisberger late last year.

I thought they played a good game in Dallas last December as a team. Couple of plays decided that game. Again, didn't play badly in loss to Cinci at home Dec. 23. Suisham missed a 24-yard field goal.

Dale Lolley said...

As for moving linebackers around, don't think they'll do that unless the young guys prove they can't do it. Won't tear the whole defense apart to replace one guy.

adamg said...

We forget the Steelers couldn't even win a kewpie doll for the first 40 years of their existance. I myself was at the great "OJ Simpson Bowl" game between the Steelers and Eagles that ended up 6-3 Steelers with Booth Lustig kicking 2 FGs for the winners. Talk about a bad football game!

BTW, I wondered why Mesko was practicing place kicks in warm ups. He certainly showed he could hit at least a short FG and PATs in an emergency.
Shane Grahman is awful but at least he's familiar with kicking in Cincy.

DAVE said...

Dale...put in a good word with the team for Jacob Rogers (former University of Cincinnati kicker). I know him, that should count for something.

John Kang said...

Is James Farrior officially retired yet? Has he kept himself in football shape?

Steve-O said...

I won't say the season is over just yet, but next years draft just got a whole lot more interesting for the Steelers. We should be in contention for a good draft pick ;-)

Patrick said...

Farrior? Seriously?

Its week 1, but that was pathetic. But we've seen the Steelers win with lines of a far less pedigree. If this center can play decent and the line can stay healthy and gel, it will get better. The next 3 games are really going to be big and then we'll see if Heath and Bell can contribute.

I never thought a week 2 game would be so big, but the Steelers need some confidence. Even if they don't win, they need to be competitive.

I feel like I can't post anything bad about Tomlin or everyone goes nuts, but its becoming par for the course that he does something that makes no sense at all. I know this was far from the biggest problem with the team on Sunday, but when he takes that TO at 2:02, it just blows any confidence I have in the guy to make good decisions. What the hell reason could you have for doing that?

adamg said...

The game was within 2 scores to tie. They'd used 2 TOs to keep TN from running out the clock. The TO allowed them to score right before the 2 min warning TO. They were down a TD and at least had a chance to tie IF they could recover an onside kick. It left them with almost 2 mins to drive about 50 yds for a TD (PAT ties, 2 pt conversion wins) using the hurry up drill.

Every coach in the NFL would have done the exact same thing.

If you want to criticise TO mgmt, that would be Redman's fumble that ran with the wrong personnel group, but you'd have to blame the qb, too, as he didn't think he needed to call one either.

Anonymous said...

Dale just a quick edit. In 2008 they beat dallas 20-13 their record(not the score of the game)was 10-3 after beating dallas.

Greg Mercer said...

I agree. A lot of coaches would have called that timeout before the 2-minute warning. But consider this...

They don't call TO and let the clock run down to the 2-minute warning. They score on their next play, and recover the onside kick.

Now, you have the ball, roughly the same amount of time, but you also have timeout.

So, while it wasn't the worst clock management, it wasn't the best either.

Patrick said...

guys, you can't score in a second

there was 2:02 left, if you score, clock stops, if you don't, clock stops.

All he did was save 2 seconds, but if he saved the TO and didn't recover the onside kick, you have a chance of getting a punt and running a crazy play. Is that going to tie the game? probbaly not, but it gives you a chance you didn' have if you blow the TO. Instead you watch 3 knees and everyone goes home.

Anonymous said...

i'm curious as to the rotation at outside linebacker regarding woodley/worilds/jones. do you know how many snaps they each ended up with? thanks.

TarheelFlyer said...

Woodley - 59 snaps
Worilds - 44 snaps
J. Jones - 31 snaps

Anonymous said...

You can find snap counts via Dave Bryan. These do not include ST's and not all of these are at OLB due to Jarvis/Worilds lining up in the middle in some packages

Jarvis 31 snaps (46%)
Woodley 59 snaps (88%)
Worilds 44 snaps (66%)


kyle said...

The timeout wasn't a miscue. Not every coach would have called it but it's probably about 50/50. Either way, it's about what you do if you don't score are tackled in the field of play. If you take the time out and then take a sack the clock stops immediately. If you don't take the time out and then take a sack you take a time out immediately. It doesn't matter on which end. They chose the side that saves a few more seconds (since you have to call and be granted the time out after the play whereas the two minute warning would stop the clock immediately).

As adamg said, the only time out mistake was on the fumble. That's on Tomlin and Ben. I think the clock management usually is. I think Tomlin is below average at clock management and Ben is horrendous at it so the combo makes for some mistakes.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the snap counts.

Patrick said...

I don't want to hijack a thread, but why are you assuming sacks and throws in the field of play? Everything had to be in the endzone there. You are down by two scores. You need to be assuming scores so you have a chance to tie it. Its a slim chance, but its your only chance. If you are assuming sacks, then they might as well just have given up. Scoring was the only thing you could be thinking of there. Otherwise the game is over.

I guarantee you Tomlin wasn't thiking about sacks. (but don't take that as an addmission that he was , in fact, thinking).

Anonymous said...

unless i'm really missing something here, i think patrick is right - man, did i just type that!!

in all seriousness, any play from that spot on the field is going into the endzone or being thrown away by #7 (big assumption there). regardless, clock will be stopping on its own (score or dead ball) and you now have one left after the kickoff/onside kick.

who knows, maybe they called the timeout because they didn't have the right guys on the field...

Anonymous said...

They called the TO, ran a play, didn't score (pass to Redman in flat), got the 2 min TO and then scored, iirc.

That messed up the entire TO strategy.

kyle said...

I'm assuming a sack in the field of play because that's where sacks happen, typically. That's also where fumbled snaps, fumbled hand offs, tipped passes, etc. take place. Tomlin might have had in mind the multiple sacks Ben had taken, or the first game at center Beachum was playing, or the fumbled exchange, or the batted pass, etc. Or maybe Tomlin called the timeout before the two minute warning like hundreds of coaches have done hundreds of times. I don't know. I didn't ask him. Neither did any of us, including, I assume, Dale since it didn't and wouldn't have mattered.

Patrick said...

that was a really well thought out response there kyle

if you get sacked the game is damn near over anyway, you can't think about that as your reason for calling a timeout at 2:02 because you're down by not 1, but 2 scores.

I said "sacks and throws in the field of play." Obviously the "field of play" part referred to throws not sacks, but nice trying.

and coaches DO call TOs before the 2 min warning but when its about2:07 or so, maybe even 2:05 with a quick throw to the EZ, so you get the benefit of the 2 min warning. At 2:02 you lose that benefit because plays don't take 2 seconds to run. How is that lost on everybody?

you're wrong on this one and you'll be quick to point out me as the one acting out of line but you give a response like that, full of rambling nonsense.

Patrick said...

actually taking a timeout at 2:05 probbaly does you no good either because even if you score with 2:01 left you lost the benefit of the 2 min warning on onside kick.

so 2:07-2:08 is the cutoff for me, so everyone is clear and we don't go down that road.

kyle said...

Ummm, Patrick...

You realize that the two minute warning doesn't only happen exactly at the two minute mark right?

If you run a play at 2:01 and the play takes 10 seconds the clock stops at 1:51 for the two minute warning.

I mean, you know that right? You aren't getting snippy with people and second-guessing the least meaningful thing that happened in that game based on a complete misunderstanding of the rules, right?


Patrick said...

Yes, I know that but what does that matter? I highly doubt the Steelers were running a 10 second play in that situation.

The point is you don't take the TO before the 2 min warning unless you can make the 2 min warning work to your favor as an extra timeout. When you're throwing into the endzone, it doesn't benefit you to take the timeout at 2:02 because the clock is going to stop regardless after that play.

You know thats what I'm saying and you are trying to work your way around it.

kyle said...

I'm not working around anything. You said this

"At 2:02 you lose that benefit because plays don't take 2 seconds to run. How is that lost on everybody?"

How do you lose the benefit if the play takes longer than 2 seconds? Are you saying if they happen to score or throw incomplete that would stop the clock and then they'd get an additional stoppage at the two minute warning? They weren't going to get three clock stoppages. Using the timeout there wasn't any better or worse than using it after they scored. It might have saved them a few seconds.

Like I said before, coaches take the timeout before the two minute for one of two reasons normally. Either they take it with 30 seconds or a minute before the two minute stoppage to save that extra time or they take it before the play because there's a chance that something goes wrong with the play (which had happened more than a couple times during the game) and then you have to scramble to call timeout.

This is about your Tomlin bias. I don't mean skin color or anything. I mean you don't like him. One of the things you don't like about him is clock management. So, something to do with the clock happened so you're going out of your way to talk about how terrible it was. In a game where three players were lost for the season and the offense couldn't score until the end of the game and Jarvis Jones made his debut and made some great plays you made three statements: one about the new Center, one about the next few games, and one about Tomlin calling a timeout that didn't matter.

If you want to complain about Tomlin no matter what happens that's your choice but complain about things that matter. Please. Complain that they had a Center on the roster who wasn't active so when Pouncey went down they had to use a guy already involved in the game plan. That's a legitimate gripe. The timeout was a nothing event. If they didn't take it it wouldn't have mattered. The fact that they took it didn't matter and wouldn't have regardless of the outcome.

Patrick said...

I knew you were going to say exactly that. It saves two seconds because if you don't take the timeout, you run a play two seconds later than you would have otherwise. Clearly.

Without taking the TO, if they score on one of the next two plays with throws into the endzone with 1:52 or so left, then you onside kick and lets assume thats 5 seconds, so you are at 1:47 with a timeout. Lets minus two seconds here for some leeway. So at 1:45 Titans run it and uses 4 seconds, you're at 1:41. Use your last timeout. Titans run twice again for 10 or 11 seconds total and burn 40 each time. So you're at about 10 seconds left and you get a punt and a miracle play.

Yes a miracle, but its better than 3 straight knees.

And if you get the onside kick, you really did yourself a favor by saving that TO.

You needed that spelled out apparently.

It matters because that is completely lost on Tomlin. And it is completely lost on you as well.

Buy you don't coach a football team and Tomlin does, so I expect him to know that.

Patrick said...

and I'm being generous on the time of the Titans runs, if they run for 4-5 seconds without dancing or a late whistle, the game is over anyway.

I am assuming they would be runs up the gut the Steelers stop. Thats not a crazy assumption.

The point is, the timeout in the situation was absolutely wsted and I don't know how you can't see it, other than you don't like being wrong.

Patrick said...

and I resent you quoting this out of context:

"At 2:02 you lose that benefit because plays don't take 2 seconds to run. How is that lost on everybody?"

The benefit is obviously if you can run a play that ends BEFORE the two minute warning(incomplete pass, or score, since you need it all spelled out), it gives you an extra play, i.e. its 2:09 left and you throw a quick pass for a TD and your onside kick is over before the 2 min warning, the titans have to run a play before the two min. You know that and you're playing dumb.

If you can't use the two min to your advantage, don't use the timeout.

So simple, and I'm done with you.

kyle said...

Maybe collect your thoughts before submitting so you don't have to keep using multiple comments on the same subject a few minutes apart.

I grasp it quite well. Your mistake, as usual, is that you refuse to accept any possibility besides the one you've already decided. In your scenario, the Steelers score a touchdown or it's an incomplete pass. In mine, there's a bad snap (which happened in the game a few times), there's a fumble (which happened), there's a sack (yep), there's a tipped pass (yeah) there are any number of things that keep the clock going and then you need to call timeout.

It wasn't a good call and it wasn't a bad call. It didn't matter either way and I don't mean in hindsight.

I'm glad you're done with me. I just wish you'd be done with this blog, or at least with commenting. Plenty of commenters get into it on here but you are so childish and myopic in the way you argue that it frightens me that you work in the legal profession.

Patrick said...

And you keep talking about sacks and bad snaps. But what did happen? They scored 2 plays later. Chris Carter makes a better play on the beautiful onside kick by Suisham and then is it a bad call?

Really when it boils down to it. You'd prefer 2 seconds over a timeout. Think about that.

I'm childish but you insult my ability to do my profession? That comment speaks for itself about you.

kyle said...

I'm not speaking in hindsight. Taking the timeout before or after doesn't matter. You take the timeout as a precaution or you don't. When you disagree with something you assume it's wrong. That wasn't right or wrong. It could go either way.

None of what I suggested was outside the realm of possibility. In fact, all of those things occurred in that game but that doesn't matter, right?

Your profession can include argumentation. So yeah, considering how you resort to name-calling and a scorched earth "I'm right and nothing else is possible" policy at the drop of a hat, I think that could be a problem.

Sue me.

You usually want the last word. Feel free.

Patrick said...

Once again, just like last year. I didn't call you a name. Kyle, if you'd prefer two seconds over a timeout, you go on on being "right"

Here's the last word(s)(didn't want to be bashed on that minor discrepancy)

You're ignorant enough to not realize there are lawyers who don't argue for a living.

kyle said...

"Your profession CAN include argumentation"


It's not two seconds. It's two seconds plus a play that may or may not stop the clock. marc agreed with you. Several people did not. Doesn't that insinuate that it's not cut and dry? Wait, I'm not actually asking that question because I'm leaving. You can get your last word(s) again if you like.

Have a good one.

Anonymous said...

sorry kyle, patrick's right - in this situation. you both make valid arguements, but i think patrick's makes the most sense because the ball was on the 4 yard line. at that point, the team is looking to score immediately (which stops the clock). in that situation it only makes sense to take the timeout if you can run the play and score "before" the 2:00 mark. obviously, that's not the case at 2:02. they should have saved the timeout, take 4 shots to score a TD and have the timeout for after the onside kick.

regarding tomlin's clock management, one could argue it is as much #7's fault as tomlins. either way, it has definitely been questionable since he has been around.

Anonymous said...

Being at the game, it seemed to me there was some confusion on the TO call. I thought the clock was being allowed to run down, but then a TO was called and clock reset to 2:02. The TO may have been called from the sideline. In any event, the idea is to take the TO and score right away. The clock stops for the PAT and would not have started again until the ball was touched on the kickoff.

So, had the Steelers scored directly after the TO and then recovered the onside kick, they would have had a short clock stoppage for change of possession, then immediately the 2 min warning at around 1:50ish. That would have given them just under 2 minutes to go half the length of the field to try and tie the game.

Of course none of that happened because the Steelers neither scored directly after the TO nor recoverd the onside kick.