Visit NFL from the sidelines on the new Observer-Reporter site: http://www.observer-reporter.com/section/BLOGS08

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wednesday news and notes

Heath Miller looked good running around on the practice field today and should really be a boost to the Pittsburgh offense.

Miller, however, admits that he's a little nervous about the first time he has to block at the line of scrimmage on his surgically repaired knee.

Remember, Miller was injured last year against Cincinnati while blocking. And while he can simulate game-type stuff in the passing game, doing so in run blocking or pass blocking just isn't something that's done a lot - and certainly not at game speed - in practice.

@ Le'Veon Bell was able to go out and do some things today as well.

It was his first time running around with his teammates since suffering a mid-foot sprain about a month ago.

Bell looked spry, but again, like the situation with Miller, there's nobody hitting him, so he's basically just running. But it's a first step.

@ If you haven't noticed this week, all four AFC North teams are dogs this week, with only Cleveland being on the road.

Cincinnati has the best overall talent in the division, but the quarterback is iffy. The Bengals will lose to Green Bay at home this week.

Like the Steelers, the Ravens are having offensive issues right now, and that was before Ray Rice went down with a hip flexor injury last week. Baltimore will lose at home to Houston.

And the Browns just punted their season. They might not win a game.

I saw a much different practice for the Steelers today. Guys were running around and upbeat. Maybe they're just trying to convince themselves that they can turn this 0-2 start around, but this division is certainly winnable.

In fact, I expect the Steelers to beat the Bears at home this week and then handle Minnesota in a neutral site game.

That would put them at 2-2 heading into their bye. And also probably put them in a tie for first place in what is looking like a weak division.



17 comments:

John Kang said...

I love your optimism. I want to believe!

Anonymous said...

When do we offer next years #1 pick for joe thomas? Cleveland might be dumb enough, as long as we are wishing and hoping for the Steelers to improve.

Steve-O said...

Now that the band wagoners have left the wagon the rest of us can start cheering our team back to respectability. I think the Bears are a little overrated and we'll win a low scoring game at home.

Patrick said...

Steelers get into the playoffs with a healthy Ben and anything is possible. Didn't Seattle get in a few years ago at 7-9 as a division winner?

This team needs to get their heads in the game. Besides the run game, I don't see them getting out muscled or beat in any particular area. Its mostly mental mistakes - dropped passes, fumbles in the redzone, penalties you can't take, goofy play calls, poor clock management, etc etc.. Those are correctable though. I think the OL will start to gel too. So there is reason to be optimistic but there needs to be steady improvement each week.

Frank Beans said...

please pass what you're smoking

Anonymous said...

Funny how times have changed, last year we were 8-8 and it sucked, this year, if we were 2-2, I'd be happy.

Anonymous said...

One of the best writers around. Optimistic, cool, calm and collective. Criticizes team when needed and doesn't continually jump off the bridge like other writers. Pitt media is turning into a shock system. Lame. Keep up he great work Dale!

Mark said...

Steve-O: The problem is that the Chicago defense knows how to create turnovers, instead of hoping it will happen by accident. "Peanut" Tillman is amazing in action.

Henry said...

As important as these next two games are, I'm in favor of holding out Heath and Bell until after the bye week.

Can't risk two players who are so pivotal to our offensive success for the years to come suffering further injury.

marc said...

i would give miller at least one more week. let him get some good contact in practice first.

as for bell, not until he is absoutely 100%.

hope allen comes back this week. i think they will need him.

how was the coaches assessment of wilson/williams at foote's spot?

Dale Lolley said...

Yes, the Bears create turnovers. But they also commit them.
Bears have created five in the first two games but also given it up four times, including three Cutler ints.
They're also allowing 252 [passing per game - and they played Minnesota for cripes sakes.
That's even with the "great" Peanut Tilman.
Just because you make some interceptions or recover some fumbles doesn't make you a great corner.

Mark said...

Dale: I didn't say anything about Tillman being a great corner. (Although two pro bowl selections means he is not a slouch either.) I was pointing out that he led the league with 10 forced fumbles, and that is a reflection of how he plays.

There are things the defensive players can do to increase the chance of turnovers. I can also believe that the coaches think the trade-offs of taking more risks (giving up more big plays, missed tackles) are not worth it. But when I hear commentary that the number of (defensive) turnovers is out of their hands, that is not honest.

(I'm not saying you do it. Just making a general statement, inspired by Steve-O's comment.)

kelly said...

Mark -

I hear what you're saying about being more aggressive and creating more turnovers, but using Tillman as an example, he gave up 9 receptions for 162 and 2 TD's to Green in week 1; Ike didn't allow a fraction of that (6 for 41 no TD's). So, there's a real risk/reward factor to that aggression.

marc said...

Mark's right though tillman may not be the best example. a defense has to be opportunistic to help win the turnover battle. you can't just sit around and wait for an errant pass to fall in your lap or hope the QB/RB muff their exchange.

of course, there are trade offs and a DB may get beat sometimes if he tries to jump a route or bites on a fake. but you've got to go for it sometimes. certainly, game situations have to come into play there as well.

Anonymous said...

Having an offense that scores points would help our defense get turnovers as well. Since opposing teams know our offense stinks they can play conservatively on offense to avoid turnovers.

If our offense actually scored other teams would have to press more in order to keep up with us. That would lead to more turnovers.

I can't really give our D any blame for the current problems. If this offense was even mediocre we would be 2 and 0.

kyle said...

Interceptions are a matter of opportunity first then skill. Recovering fumbles is the same. Now, forcing fumbles is another thing. That's skill and intention. That, and to a lesser degree the sacks, I hold against the defense. This team gets plenty of tackles. The opportunity to knock the ball out is there and you don't have to miss the tackle to do it.

But as Anon said, as much as turnovers would help the offense needs to make some noise. Short fields and splash plays can help any offense but if you can't get first downs you need even more than that.

Dale Lolley said...

Every time I point out on this site that the defense did not have a "great" game because it did not force any turnovers, I end up getting ripped.

I would like to see more turnovers out of the defense, to be sure.
But I would not call Tillman a great corner because he creates some turnovers. He's made the Pro Bowl because of it, which is good for him. And certainly, it's a needed skill. But, as somebody noted, he got tortured by A.J. Green in Week 1.
He's also missed practice all week with a knee issue.