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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Post-Cincinnati thoughts

Two games into the 2013 season, the Steelers are 0-2 and the quarterback has a passer rating of 74.8 thanks greatly to two horrible interceptions.

"The quarterback's got to play better, and he will," Ben Roethlisberger said after the Steelers dropped a 20-10 decision to the Bengals.


Roethlisberger is supposed to be a franchise quarterback. Franchise quarterbacks are supposed to make the players around them better.

Look what Tom Brady's cobbling together right now in New England. There isn't a person on the planet who would argue that New England's current crop of receivers and offensive players is better than the group in Pittsburgh.

And yes, the Patriots have struggled as well offensively. But Brady's finding a way to win games.

Roethlisberger has been a big part of the Steelers losing their two games, throwing a pair of ill-advised interceptions.

It's easy to blame the offensive coordinator for this offensive mess right now. But that's just the easy way out.

Nobody in New England is calling for Josh McDaniels to be fired. Are Patriots fans smarter than Steelers fans?

I don't believe that.

Todd Haley hasn't turned the ball over three times - two on fumbles and once on an interception - in the red zone in the first two games.

Sorry, that's on the guys on the field.

You can complain all you like about some of the bad plays. Again, that's easy. Who wants to see Jerricho Cotchery on an end around?

Nothing against Cotchery, but that's not exactly his cup of tea.

But that's one play out of 50.

Right now, the execution offensively just hasn't been there. And that's on the players.

@ That said, I saw some improvement this week. The offensive line did a solid job blocking one of the better defensive lines in the NFL.

And when Felix Jones ran the ball, the Steelers actually had some success, gaining 37 yards on 10 carries. Don't know why Jones wasn't used more in the second half - at least early when it was still 10-10.

It has quickly become obvious that Isaac Redman isn't going to get it done running behind this line.

@ Cotchery, by the way, had one more tackle in this game than James Harrison.

@ I expect the Steelers to come out and beat the Bears at home next week.

What gives me that idea?

I think you'll see Heath Miller make his return.

Miller's workload picked up in practice later in the week last week and the next step is to get him some game action.

Even if Miller is only used as a receiver, it would be a bonus.

Right now, opponents are pressing Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders at the line of scrimmage and walking a safety into the box. They don't fear the Steelers enough to really double anyone.

Miller will command attention in the middle of the field, opening up running lanes.

@ Markus Wheaton got onto the field for a handful of plays Monday night. The next step will be to try throwing him the ball a couple of times.

@ Ike Taylor played a heck of a game on A.J. Green, who might be the best receiver in the league. He's at least in the conversation.

But Taylor blanketed him throughout the game.

@ I seriously don't get all the angst among Steelers fans about losing this game. Losing to Tennessee at home, I get. That's a game you have to win.

Losing to a very good Cincinnati team on the road, that one was kind of expected.

I know, I know, the Steelers always beat the Bengals in Cincinnati. Just not this year at this time.

But I fully expect the Steelers to win the rematch in Pittsburgh.

With so many new faces, I expect this season to be a work in progress. The Steelers will get better as this season goes on.

And it's obvious that Andy Dalton still isn't real confident with what he's seeing with the Pittsburgh defense.

@ At some point, some of these balls that are being thrown high or being tipped into the air have to land in a Pittsburgh defender's hands, right?

There were three or four passes Dalton threw that could have been picks. The law of averages has to come into play at some point.


John Kang said...

I agree with you on one point: no way Patriots fans are smarter than Steelers fans. If they like the Patriots, how smart can they be?


John Kang said...

As for the offensive game plan: last year, we were running a quick hit short passing game, which did pretty well. This game, I saw a lot of unsuccessful deep balls, which led to 3 and outs, which in turn led to a tired defense.

It was pretty clear the D was tired by the end of the game, how can they not be after being on the field for so long?

What ever happened to the ball control passing we saw last year????

adamg said...

Dale, on a lot of passes, BR looked like he was throwing off his back foot or off balance. Did you notice the same thing? I think his technique has always been subpar, but it seems even worse this year.

Anonymous said...

1 sack and 0 turnovers in 8 quarters.

That stat is more of a factor why this team looks so abysmal then any other. Can we stop treating turnovers as something the "football gods" give you. They are created and taken by an aggressive defense with impact players. Something the Steelers are in short supply us.

The bill of mediocre high draft picks is being paid. Gilbert, Worilds, Heyward, Hood, Pouncey (Hey, a guy off the street played up to his level) Some of those names are nice players. Just not the caliber of players that warranted a top pick.

adamg said...

Like it or not, sometimes the ball just doesn't bounce the right way for a turnover.

Maybe no sacks, but there was plenty of pressure on Dalton making him misfire often.

The other thing about the defense is that it needs a ball control offense to operate at max efficiency. That's how it's built. OTOH, the offense has been very hit and miss since the last SB appearance and goes 3 and out too many times ultimately setting the defense up to fail.

I was flipping between the football and baseball games so I didn't see all the Paulson fumble replays, but it looked like he caught the ball then had it knocked out as he was going down. I figured the flag would cause the pass to be ruled incomplete and was surprised when I flipped back it was ruled a fumble. I didn't think he had it long enough to be called a catch.

Anonymous said...


if the Steelers end up with a top pick, do you see them entertaining drafting a quarterback?

Usually i would say no, except for the fact it is supposed to be a quarterback heavy draft and the last time they drafted high they got their current franchise QB that took them to 3 super bowls.

Anonymous said...

Dude, he ran about 20 yards after catching the ball before fumbling it. If they would have ruled that an incomplete pass I would have been irate, not know what a reception is anymore

Anonymous said...

This roster is the worst opening day roster we've had in Pittsburgh in probably 15 years. The talent level is scary poor. None of our running backs, if released, would be picked up. None of our TE's, if released, would be picked up. Our off-the-street center graded the best of all of the O-line players. We have a 6th round, small WR that is not a #1, playing #1. We have a #3 WR (Sanders) as our #2. Our #3 WR hasn't been a good #3 for 5 seasons.

This is a bad roster.

It would not surprise me if Haley gets fired mid-season as the fall guy, but I think the real problem is Colbert's handling of the salary cap and roster. I think we need to have a new GM and evaluate Tomlin next year with new eyes.

marc said...

ike taylor played a great game...kudos to him.

you can't fault paulson on that fumble. the bengal's player (pacman i think) made an awesome strip as they were both flipping over and going down. actually, i thought the ref blew the play dead which, i thought, means it can't be reviewed. but the announcers never alluded to that. oh well.

regarding turnovers, they need to be "created" not "given". the steelers need to be more proactive at ripping the ball out and "ball hawking" in the secondary. other teams can do it just fine.

the o-line did not block well. adams looked pathetic. the best player was the newest player. how about that.

how is it possible that #7 and the receivers are so out of sync?

redman might as well be cut right now. he's running like he is scared to death of dropping the ball. jones is their best option at RB until bell comes back.

the only play that bugged me was the end around. did anyone notice on that play that both sanders and brown substituted out of the game? i told my wife, "has to be a run" and sure least try it with wheaton, right?

jarvis jones is still learning (out of position at times), but man, the guy just never stops. he's gonna be a good one, imo.

finally, to dale's thought that the bengals are good...they are not. dalton continues to support my thought he is just an average QB. missed way too many throws in this game. and if the steelers had ANY running game the whole game is flipped around. the afc north is filled with average to below average teams this year. winner could very well end up being 9-7.

Anonymous said...

The Steelers don't have a single difference maker on offense, except Ben. They have no running game and no receivers that scare anyone. I really wish we had tried to sign Wallace sooner and been able to retain him. Instead we waited until he was worth too much.

The defense isn't going to get turnovers until they put together a better pass rush. Jarvis Jones is a good linebacker but the guy hasn't shown anything rushing the passer. Which is his #1 job. We'll see how Woodley does as time goes on. He seems to be playing alright.

Frank Beans said...

This team is dead in the water. Losers of 5 of their last 6 regular games and twice to the Bengals. I want to say it can't get any worse but it likely will. They have too many guys who shouldn't even be suiting up on an NFL roster and then they don't give their prized rookies much playing time. It's all they have left after some terrible drafts.
I won't even blame Haley since he's not out there. It is a sad turn for a proud franchise.

Easley said...

Anon 9:38 nails it. Who are our offensive weapons that keep opposing defensive coordinators up at night? Right, there aren't any. Cincy has Green, and by the looks of it, soon Bernard and Eifert too. Baltimore has Ray Rice. We have...Antonio Brown?? A nice complementary receiver, at best, but no DBs are losing sleep over facing him.

Hopefully it will help when Heath returns, but it's unfortunate that they're probably going to have to play him before he's fully healed because the rest of the cupboard is so bare. Hopefully Bell will turn out to be a player, but who knows. He could be Eddie George or he could be Tim Worley. Wheaton looks to be a potential splash player. It's time to play him.

One thing you can be sure of, the Bears defensive coordinator will sleep well this week.

adang said...

BR doesn't scare anyone any longer either. He just won't settle for a short gain or dump off to a back or throw the ball away or any play that's not what he likes to do. On the second sack, he ran around and had someone open in the flat, but what did he do, fling the ball downfield hoping for a long gain.

No OC can fix the offense as long as the qb refuses to change the way he plays even if the personnel make that style a square peg in a round hole.

Anonymous said...


I actually agree with everything you said, how unusual. Keep in mind that since 1990 only 22 teams started 0-2 and made the playoffs. Only 3 started 0-3 and made the playoffs. I know, where is Jim Mora, but the point is the Steelers have backed themselves into a corner early and really need to ratchet it up several notches this week just to be in contention. In other words, the playoffs start this week.

marc said...

i agree, there is only so much the coaches can do. however, only 1 run play in the second half? is that #7 changing things at the line or the OC? i wonder.

Dale Lolley said...

John, the quick stuff isn't going to be there because the receivers are getting jammed hard at the line. Dictates that you try to go deep. It's the reason why so many WR screens got blown up. Nobody respects the ability of these receivers to get off a jam and beat them over the top.

Paulson was running with the ball when he was tackled. Easy fumble call on the review.

Anonymous said...

Perfect example..Cincy has the ball its 3rd and 3. Ike gives Green a 10 yard cushion, makes for an easy conversion. We have the ball its 3rd and 3. Every WR has a DB in their face. Our WR's lack elite speed, we cant stretch the field to open things up underneath. It will be a struggle all season long.

marc said...

if i recall correctly, the steelers used to use a lot of motion with ward and randle el when the ball was snapped to help give them an advantage coming off the line. aren't brown/sanders perfect WR's for that?

Anonymous said...

Here is a question on plays like the Paulson fumble...Its a first down if they keep possession. If there is any question that it is a turnover why do teams not run up to the line of scrimmage and spike the ball. Looking at it from a risk/reward standpoint even if its not a fumble its worth preventing the opposing coach from challenging the play.

marc said...

the steelers were attempting to do that, but cincy threw the challenge flag.

Anonymous said...


the steelers were attempting to call a play. If they immedietely ran up and spiked the ball cincy would not have had time to see replay then throw challange flag. if they did challange without seeing replay that could pay dividends down the line with wasted challanges.

marc said...

#7 was running down the field trying to get guys lined up. then substitutions came in and #7 looked over to the sideline. i would say blame that one on the coaches. the announcers even commented on how #7 was trying to get setup for a quick play.

Anonymous said...


If you are just going to spike the ball you dont need substitutions. You keep referencing a quick play. I am saying line up and spike the ball. Give up the down, from risk/reward standpoint its the right thing to do.

marc said...

I'm not arguing with you about spiking the ball, i agree with you. from what i saw, it appeared #7 had every intent to rush to the line and spike the ball...they have done it before. but you could see him all of sudden look over to the sideline as they were going down the field to line. guys were running on and off and obviously the coaches were calling a play. i put that mistake on the coaches.

Anonymous said...

Great article Dale. Tomlin need to divorce Redman. If your going to start Redman, you should abandon the run. Paulson was swinging his arm all over the place and deserved to fumble. Free Felix Jones

Anonymous said...

The Steelers are currently:

- 31st in total offense

- 30th in first downs

- 30th in 3rd down conversion percentage

- 31st in time of possession

- 31st in rushing yards

- 26th in passing yards per game

You can't be soooo bad, and blame it only on the players, this is talent ( Colbert), preparation (Tomlin), Play calling and play desing (Haley) and yes players.

Heat Miller its a great TE but is not going to change all that is wrong with this offence!

Bilgewater D said...

Everyone deserves the blame.

The front office, the coaches, the players.

Its time to re-build. There is no re-loading at this point.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Dale.
I am one person who thinks New England has a better offense all around. They have better RB's (at least until we get to see what Bell can do) better TE's (until we get Heath back) and by leaps and bounds a much better o-line. Of course Brady can manage when he gets 5 or 6 seconds before anyone lays a finger on him. Plus he actually has a semblance of a running game to lean on. We only have better WR's, and the way it looks right now, not by a lot.

Anonymous said...

That being said, I do agree that we'll be getting progressively better as the season moves forward, and considering the additions we'll have soon on offense and the shape of the AFC north in general, we may just be in the thick of things come December. Sunday night's game looms large already, but I think we can pull through and get the win.

marc said...

first two games all around utter failure with a few individual bright spots mixed in.

Dale Lolley said...

Tomlin said today that based on the way Paulson reacted, they felt he had made the catch and the ground caused the fumble.
It was a mistake.

marc said...

i wish i could watch and hear it again, because i thought the ref blew the whistle while the ball was on the ground and before the bengals recovered it. i'm pretty sure paulson got up and then took a step towards the ball but stopped when the whistle blew.

Anonymous said...

Can't undo the fumble. The only thing to do is learn the lesson to never leave a loose ball lying around regardless.

Dale Lolley said...

Paulson turned the other way. He thought the ball was behind him.

DAVE said...

I'm confused on this one thing regarding the Paulson fumble:

If a play is whistled dead before the other team recovers, how can there be a change of possession?

To allow a change of possession, even if the fumble is clear on replay, would seem to promote players continuing to play hard after the whistle. If, in fact, there is a potential reward for doing so.

Nate said...

Having watched both New England games, I have to disagree with your assessment of Brady winning vs. Ben losing.

1) The Patriots would have lost to the Jets at home had it not been for the Patriots Defense creating 4 turnovers.

2) Danny Amendola made a number of great plays on Brady misfires in their first game.

Roethlisberger isn't playing well. The difference between he and Brady is that nobody on the Steelers is stepping up. The defense has been solid, but a defense can't win a game for you without making splash plays.

Where are the game changing sacks and turnovers?

Those are the types of things that flip field position. Those are the type of things that can put a struggling offense in good position to score.

Anonymous said...

Well, STs put the offense in good position twice with the opening KR, then Brown's PR into Cincy end already in FG range. What came out of those except the FG which was almost a sure thing given where the drive started?

John Kang said...

Just watched the 1st Quarter again, and I disagree with Dale's assessment that the Bengals were jamming our WRs at the line. They weren't, they were playing off.

Also, the whistle blew after Paulson's fumble, before Jones recovered. Even still, after the ball came loose, Paulson just stared at the ball.

Same with when Dalton got hit and one of his passes went awry, the defensive players should have been hustling too it, just in case.

What's going on?