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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday with Tomlin

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin had better news than expected when it came to his injury outlook for this weekend's game at New England.

Tomlin said all three linemen injured against Oakland, David DeCastro (ankle), Ramon Foster (concussion) and Guy Whimper (knee) have been checked out and could play this weekend.

Foster has been cleared to practice, while Whimper only hyperextended his knee.

DeCastro could be limited with his ankle sprain early in the week, but could be return to practice later in the week.

Also, rookie wide receiver Markus Wheaton has not been ruled out with his fractured finger.

@ Tomlin said he and Ben Roethlisberger spoke Monday about Roethlisberger's use of timeouts down the stretch against Oakland and that the Steelers would have preferred to have all three once Oakland got the ball back.

@ Tomlin said he is open to making a trade before the deadline.

But don't expect anything at this point.

@ Jarvis Jones has been demoted to second team and Tomlin said it's due to the rookie not always playing his responsibilities.

That was obvious a few times - the few times he was on the field before being pulled - when he lost outside contain against the Raiders. Jones didn't start against the Raiders and it could be a while before he starts again.

@ Tomlin said he felt Zoltan Mesko rebounded from the blocked punt to make some good kicks, pointing out a punt he made that was downed at the  1 late in the game.

Tomlin said he's open to looking at upgrades at all positions, but it doesn't sound like he's ready to make a change.

That change came later in the day when the Steelers waived Mesko and signed Mat McBriar.

McBriar, an Australian, has kicked in the NFL since 2004, mostly with Dallas. He spent the 2012 season with Philadelphia and has a career average of 45.4 yards per kick.

@ Through eight weeks of the season, there hasn't been a 100-yard rusher in the AFC North this season. Who'd have thunk it in a division that used to be known for power football?


Nate said...

Good news on the O-Line injuries. I have to be honest, I think the Steelers line is actually average compared to the rest of the league. Did anyone watch Seattle last night? They were straight-up missing assignments on Quinn and Long. Those guys were running untouched at Wilson.

Anonymous said...

In thinking it through, it might be a mistake to cut Mesko prior to the NE game. He may be able to give some insight into the NE special teams.

John Kang said...

Hmmm, that punt downed at the 1-- all luck. Is Drew Butler available, if there are no better options?

Anonymous said...

Is Woodley getting demoted for blowing it on the first play of the game? Or does that stuff only apply to rookies?

If the scheme is too tough for young guys to comprehend, then its time to dumb it down. Young guys play, and make plays, across the league. It's a young man's game, time to cut bait on "old, slow and uh-oh".

Dale Lolley said...

Woodley made a mistake. So did the rest of the defense.

Jones was continually out of position, overpursued and lined up incorrectly.

You don't dumb down the defense for one guy.

Drew Butler really wasn't much, if any, any better than Mesko has been this season. Butler averaged 43.8 yards per kick last year and got worse as the weather turned. He also had a kick blocked.

The fact that his dad has apparently been trashing the Steelers on Twitter for cutting the kid probably isn't helping matters.

That said, there are some other guys out there.

marc said...

i just don't get why teams stick with punters/kickers so long. to me, they are "plug and play" type parts to the team. there really isn't that much chemistry needed for them to do their job. like inter-changeable parts, if one guy doesn't get it done don't hang on to him all season long just for the heck of it. bring in someone else and dump the guy if he loses the 1 week competition in practice.

Dale Lolley said...

As for the available punters, here's the list of best guys available per Adam Caplan:

Chris Kluwe
Mat McBriar
Nick Harris
Reggie Hodges
Daniel Sepulveda
Matt Dodge
Matt Turk
Jason Baker
Ben Graham
Chas Henry
T.J. Conley
Robert Malone
Ricky Schmitt (K)
Tom Malone
Sam Paulescu
Ryan Tydlacka
Ryan Donahue
Daniel Power
Chris Bryan
Brad Wing

Butler is either an oversight or was left off the list intentionally.

marc said...

got to go with daniel power just so you get a chance to say, "it's a Power punt."

Dale Lolley said...

And McBriar it is.

marc said...

dale, quick question, did mesko's holding on the FG's have anything to do with suisham's misses?

Anonymous said...

If we can't hold off the D with our O lone and get some sort of long ball going, we aren't going to win another four games.. Other teams have figured out that if they stack the box and get pressure that we aren't going to pass for over 20+ yards.. I undersatnd the logic of getting rid of the ball fast and keeping #7 upright.. But #7 isn't going to get rid of the ball early!! That isn't his style. We don't have a "West Coast" cast, if we do stay with this can we get some out patterns with Ben rolling out of the pocket!!!!
I'm content with our D, I think the new guys up front have held their own for the most part, but we cant play our style always being behind in the game and with pour field pos. I refuse to give up on this team, we have enough talent, but the tempo needs to change..

Dale Lolley said...

Tomlin could have thrown Mesko under the bus and said the holds were bad. He did not. Said the holds were not an issue.

adamg said...

Well, before Oak, the holds were good enough for Suisham to be 100% perfect on FGs.

Remember Steelers won a SB with Mitch Berger punting...

Patrick said...

this post is more related to the other thread, but the time management problems have been going on for so long. But Tomlin didn't take that TO and though I wish he was a coach that had his team prepared not to make those mistakes, that was just Ben not paying attention and as someone said, you don't need to explain that situation to a 10 year vet.

We all seem to agree though, that this is a team that can beat anybody or lose to anybody and what difference does it make if they lose to the Raiders and beat NE, even though we all expected them to do the opposite? Is the sky still falling next week?

I don't think the season is over, but it doesn't look good. Nonetheless, lets see what happens. I can see them winning this weekend and then going on a stretch.

Dale Lolley said...

The last time they started 2-5, in 2006, they rallied to finish 8-8.

That's why I don't write them off or blow too much smoke when they start strong, such as in 2009, and finish badly. Seen too much.
The worst they've ever been since I've covered them was 6-10.

Anonymous Brian said...

I'm just relieved they didn't trade a draft pick for a punter. Was sweating bullets all day!

The season is over in the sense of them making the playoffs. Would have to go 8-1 or, maybe, with luck, 7-2.

Also I think of the whole slopfest as a three-season trend. I remember Dale writing something about the Steelers somehow making it possible to bumble their way to a 12-4 record (in 2011).

Eh, I see them getting to 7-9 tops if Roethlisberger stays healthy (big if at this sack rate).

Dale Lolley said...

The reality is that the line between winning and losing is very narrow in the NFL. Look at Monday night's game. If St. Louis finds a way to score from the 1,it beats Seattle, a team many would consider far superior. And the Rams would have done so with a castoff QB.
The Rams dominated that game.

When the Steelers play clean football - ie. no turnovers - they have a chance to beat just about anybody. Heck, even Sunday, if the ball doesn't clank off Brown's hands for an interception, they probably win that game, even with the Suisham field goal misses.

The Steelers aren't good enough to overcome the big mistakes right now. But few teams are.

marc said...

dale, regarding your comment about starting 2-5 and then finishing 8-8 in 2006:

that was a team coming of a super bowl victory with a very talented roster. they actually started off 2-6 that year and mostly because #7 threw 14 INT's in those 6 losses. for the remaining 8 games when they were 6-2 he had 9 INT's.

however, that team also had a 1,500 yard RB in willie parker, ward/holmes/washington had good years, and a very good defense that was 8th in the nfl in takeaways (29) and 11th in sacks (39).

this team has has no where near the supporting cast - i would take parker/ward/holmes/washington over bell/brown/sanders/cotchery everyday and twice on sunday - nor do they have as good of a defense. at present, this defense is on pace for 22 sacks and 11 takeaways - ughhh.

my point here being that a talented team can quickly rebound from mistakes such as turnovers - i.e. 2006. however, this team does not have the talent that team had and while they certainly have a better chance to win when they don't turn the ball over, they just don't have the talent for such a quick turnaround in fortunes. you are comparing apples and oranges when looking at 2006 versus 2013.

kyle said...


2006 was Santonio Holmes' rookie year. He did not have a good year. He cost them at least one game with his fumbles as a punt returner. His best play of the year was the final play of the Steelers' season: He took a short pass all the way to beat the Bengals in overtime (and take the Bengals out of the playoffs). While I take your overall point that the 2006 team was deeper or had better talent on average, let's not pretend that Ward/Holmes/Washington in 2006 was clearly a better receiving corps.

Anonymous said...


I appreciate what you did, you used facts to put the two seasons in perspective. The WR comparison is debatable, but I'd take Ward/Washington over Brown/Saunders just on the fact that Ward could catch the ball and Washington was a burner.

James said...

I hardly ever post, but remember the Steelers lost a lot of veterans in the past couple of years. 2012 & 2013 could have been expected. Bill Cowher/Chuck Knoll had some bad seasons too!! I will believe for one last week that if they can beat the struggling Patriots this week they could go 9-7 and have a chance at the playoffs. However if they lose I think the best they can do is 8-8. Not a lost season, just a transition season. Thanks for keeping one fan optimistic....

marc said...

funny thing you say that about holmes because when i was thinking back to that year the first thing that came to mind was his catch and run against the bengals. while i agree he had his share of mistakes that year, he did end up with 49 catches for 824 yards. that's a pretty darn good rookie campaign. regardless, i take those three over these three every time.

DaveN said...

"You don't dumb down the defense for one guy." I think the issue is that rookies can't come in and play in this defense. You're basically paying them a year (or more) just to learn & play ST, not getting value out of the rookie contract that other teams are, and often not finding out until the end if they're actually good or not. If they are, hello huge contract, often with another team. I love me some Lebeau, but maybe it's time to not have a defensive playbook the size of a phone book anymore. If they were still going 10-6, 11-5, and sniffing the playoffs every year, OK, but those days seem to be over for the foreseeable future. I just don't get the relative optimism at this point. Some major things need to change.

Dale Lolley said...

The complexity of the defense isn't so much about the different blitzes, it's about the disguises. Don't reinvent the wheel. Jones will be OK eventually. This was a wakeup call for him.

As for Holmes, he made a lot of rookie mistakes that first year despite his catch and yardage totals, running the wrong routes, etc.