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

Friday, August 22, 2014

Post-Eagles thoughts

Actually, I should have titled this one "Post-Eagles disgust."

That was a putrid effort pretty much across the board by the Steelers, who appeared to have spent the day collectively smoking what was left over of the Le'Veon Bell-LeGarrette Blount stash.

Actually, a few guys did show up, including Bell and Blount, both of who played into the fourth quarter, well after the rest of the starters had gone gently into the night.

I thought the two running backs, along with the offensive line, were the standouts of a shoddy first half. Bell and Blount split the carries, getting five each, and gained 43 yards, a respectable 4.3 yards per carry average.

Then, in the second half, working against the Eagles' backups, joined most of the rest of the team in the tank.

The defense, meanwhile, was pretty bad throughout.

Yes, it got off the field on the opening possession by the Eagles, thanks to a tackle for a 5-yard loss by Lawrence Timmons and a pass breakup by Ike Talyor. After that however, it was pretty much a butt-kicking contest. The Eagles provided the foot. The Steelers provided the butt.

@ Who else shall we single out?

* How about placekicker Shaun Suisham, who missed his third kick of the preseason, this one a 46-yarder.

Now, two of Suisham's misses have come without Greg Warren making the snaps, so there could be something to that in terms of the speed with which the ball is getting back to the holder. Or, it could be the holder, Brad Wing, himself.

But everything looked OK on those two fronts to my untrained eye.

* Or how about Justin Brown? With Lance Moore held out, presumably so the team could take a look at some other guys fighting for the fifth spot. Brown got first chance and ran a wrong route to end the Steelers' first drive. He failed to catch either ball thrown his way.

Darrius Heyward-Bey was up next. He caught all three passes thrown his way for 54 yards and a touchdown - though he was playing with Bruce Gradkowski.

Derek Moye was in at the end and failed to catch the only pass thrown his way.

Take from that what you will.

* Cam Thomas' play is the reason why Brett Keisel was brought back. The more the Steelers saw of Thomas - including getting blown away at the goal line in this one - the more they wanted Keisel back.

* Even Heath Miller couldn't get on the same page as Ben Roethlisberger in this one.

Roethlisberger had a pretty good pocket most of the game and was just off. His final numbers - 15 of 24 for 157 yards, a touchdown and an interception - were bolstered by a third-quarter TD drive against the Eagles' backups.

As good as Roethlisberger looked last week, he looked equally as bad this week.

* I like Mike Mitchell's speed, but if he's not going to wrap guys up when he attempts to tackle them, he's going to keep getting run over like he did by Philly tight end Brent Celek.

* If Dri Archer is going to just fair catch every punt, the Steelers might as well just put Antonio Brown out there.

Maybe Archer is skittish because he got drilled a couple of times in Week 1, but he's calling for the fair catch pretty early.

* Wing has done nothing to earn this punting job. As mentioned, who knows how much of Suisham's struggles involve the holder. Suisham would certain never say.

But Wing's primary job is to punt. And he averaged an uninspiring 39.8 yards on his five punts in this one, including a 48-yarder he booted into the end zone.

If Adam Podlesh doesn't suddenly show up in the next two weeks, the Steelers' punter is somebody who has yet to be cut by another NFL team.

@ It wasn't all bad.

Antonio Brown was his usual self, though, like Roethlisberger, a lot of his damage was done against Philly's second unit.

And, outside of jumping offside on one play and then losing contain, Jason Worilds was very active before leaving with what is likely a bruised knee.

@ OK, that's all I've got, other than the running backs and offensive line early on.

@ The two teams combined for 27 - ! - penalties in this game.

NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino told the NFL Network after this game that there will likely be fewer penalties called once the regular season begins.

No kidding! There couldn't possibly be more.

Preseason games are nearly unwatchable enough without the officials throwing out more flags than you'll see at a U.N. convention.

@ Mike Tomlin played Bell and Blount into the fourth quarter and said that was more punishment than sitting the two running backs out.

But judging from his comments, there will be more punishment forthcoming at some point.

@ Sean Spence left early with a PCL injury to his right knee. It was his left knee that he injured before. And PCL injuries usually just require rest.



35 comments:

Blount Trauma said...

Thanks for the info on the two knee injuries -- that's reassuring.

Steve-O said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve-O said...

I tried to follow Jarvis Jones whenever the camera kept him in the frame and the guy looked like he hasn't improved at all since last season. He made a few tackles when the runners came in his direction but he was stonewalled by the Eagles O-line throughout the game. I know he's been out with an injury but I have yet to see anything at gives me confidence in the guy's pass rushing acumen.

Anonymous said...

Not making excuses for the front seven and especially Jarvis, but this eagles oline is consistently ranked as one of the top in the league, along with the 49ers.

Our front seven will be fine. They're no world beaters, but are not the scrubs they were made out to be by the eagles

adamg said...

To be fair, the one pass to Moye wasn't catchable even for a 6'5" guy.

Thought Gradkowski was much better than the first two games. Really no excuses for BR playing so poorly since he had good protection and the run game gave him some good down and distance options.

I was impressed that McCullers was able to get up and assist on a tackle downfield even after playing against the hurry up offense. I figured if anyone would get winded fast, it would be the big guy.

Sorry, but the nickel defense just doesn't work against this type of offense. It's too fast for the edge rushers and too easy for the OL to dispose of the 2 DL before moving on to the LBs. They should be in a 5-2 or 4-4 and engaging the TEs at the line of scrimmage to keep them from running free downfield.

The flags were so ridiculous that near the end of the game even Hochuli was confused if he was signaling offensive or defensive PI.

Anonymous said...

Hochuli always throws tons of flags. Personally, I think the guy likes to be the center of attention in games.

Anonymous Brian said...

I thought they were going to work on the no-huddle.

(There's a hilarious article somewhere from earlier in the summer about the disconnect, going back years, between the Steelers' (i.e. Ben's) offseason talk about the no-huddle and its actual use.)

I agree w/ 2:57 Anonymous about the Eagles' O-line but that's a scary slippery slope.

It's like now I'm thinking, Well, week 1 is Joe Thomas, so no pass rush from Jarvis that week, how could he possibly do anything? Well, now to offense: week 3 Carolina has a tough front seven, so no run game that week! Well, week 2 is on the road on a short week, can't be expected to play well then...

It's more about how bad they looked at the eye-test / butt-kicked level, and last year's "Don't worry, it's only preseason" creeping up.

Overreacting to preseason, I guess, but the D was just manhandled and Ben looked awful. Actually the offense will be fine, no reason they won't be middle of the pack and probably better if O-line meets expectations somewhat.

Hopefully the knee news re: Worilds continues to be no big deal.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else see Pouncey get blown back on more than one run play? Didn't look like a 55 million dollar guy to me.

Crossing my fingers and hoping this was just preseason lack of planning.

Anonymous said...

The decision to sign Keisel can't be questioned now.

marc said...

hopefully this just serves as a reminder to the players/coaches that they still have a bunch of hard work ahead of them.

I believe the knock on Mitchell before he came to the steelers was that he was not much of a tackler.

did mclendon play?

Anonymous said...

Pouncey is probably the most overrated player in Steeler history

Anonymous said...

How about Jarvis Jones? Did he play?

adamg said...

marc, yeah McLendon played, but not much as they were in 2 DL mode most of the game. It's hard to watch line play on TV, but I saw mostly Heyward, Tuitt and Cam Thomas in the 2 man rotation. Thomas is showing why he lost his job in SD. At this point, I think McCullers can provide the same, if not better, performance. I wouldn't be surprised if Thomas doesn't make the final roster.

Dave Robesh said...

Hey Dale,

Any specifics on the Defensive huddle on the sideline that had Troy all upset? I think we can imagine, but would love to know more.

marc said...

dale,
in your estimation, how far is mclendon ahead of mcullers?

separately, I think the eagles were the perfect opponent for preseason week 3. a dynamic offense and respectable defense to show the steelers, especially the younger guys, you're not ready yet. the bills suck and any success against them needed to be tempered. I think this game did the job.

Dale Lolley said...

McCullers is nowhere near ready to push McClendon

DD said...

I know they don't game plan, but this defensive scheme from LeBeau is just atrocious. This league is now bang bang plays and playing your DB's 15 yards off is going to get you railroaded. It does not work. The blueprint to smoke this D has been out there for 7 yrs now. And there is no change in philosophy. How in the world is the middle of the field wide open every single play? HOW?? And nothing changes. Same old same old. Troy isn't fast enough to cover 30 yards of space. TE's will eat this unit up all yr long. If you have Jordan Cameron on your fantasy team, you better start him week 1. He will have 130 yards and 2 TD's minimum. PS, jarvis jones will go down as the worst #1 draft pick in the last 15 yrs. He looks like he weighs 180 lbs is is simply a nuisssance to the O-line he is up against. Like a fly that won't go away but doesn't really do any damage. Very easy to swat away tho. Pathetic.

Frank Beans said...

It's becoming a bad habit for Tomlin's team to come out undisciplined and unfocused. 0-4 ring a bell? Where's that sense of urgency he' s been preaching?

Dale Lolley said...

It was a preseason road game on a short week. Two days of practice. Little game planning. Let's not read too much into it, Frank.

It was a bad game, to be sure. But in the grand scheme of things, it's meaningless.

Roethlisberger played poorly. He's allowed one of those every once in a while.

Steve said...

Sure, Ben was off, but no mention of the piss poor route running from Wheaton? Seemed like Ben was working really hard to get him involved and Wheaton either wasn't up to it or wasn't that interested. And yes Justin Brown's audition with the 1s didn't go as I'm sure he hoped it would.

Anonymous said...

Certainly there is room to improve in all three phases, I hope the D wakes up after this game and gets a mad on.. I would suspect that Ben and the WR's would spend extra time the next couple weeks working on hand signals and timing.
The Eagles had just as much time to practice as us and they came out swinging!! That high tempo was impressive and you could see our guys weren't ready for it, sucking wind pretty good by the end of the first half.
Zeke

Anonymous said...

I tried to watch the D line play. Some things jumped out to me.
1. 1st string Nose is not NFL caliber.
2.RLB Jones was beaten like a rented mule.
3.Shazier disappeared.
4.Big Dan should be the new Nose.

Frank Beans said...

Maybe so Dale but I recall a lot of excuses being made at the start of last season, too. If the third pre- season game is any indicator of the level of execution we'll be witnessing this year, then 8-8 sounds optimistic. I also wish Tomlin would stop owning all of this poor play and actually do something about it.

Theosa said...

Steelers definitely laid an egg last night. Here are my thoughts on some of the coaches and players ; I tried to look at things from non-homer perspective.
Coach Tomlin:
Pros: A passionate coach trying to rebuild a team in transition. Gels well with players and handles media very well.
Cons: Always play on the caution side, prefers and keeps vets a bit too much over young players, did not transformed into the visionary and commanding coach most fans expected.
Coach LeBeau:
Pros: Probably the most beloved coach on Steelers team, outstanding people skills, a defensive pioneer of his era.
Cons: His defensive schemes seem outdated for modern spread and no huddle offenses especially when the opposing QB is formidable.
Ben Roethlisberger:
Pros: The toughest QB in the NFL hands down, his free style play is one of a kind. When given protection he is as good as any top tier QBs in NFL, does not mind taking risks.
Cons: Not very accurate on deep throws, tends to throw higher at times, flusters under pressure when contained in the pocket.
Maurkice Pouncey: a solid center but overpaid because he is a media darling.
Ike Taylor: A solid corner with sieve hands that got old. Great work ethics.
Antonio Brown: The best and the most under paid player on Steelers team, Period!
That’s all for now. I have to tie flies for upcoming Salmon and Steelhead season. Go Steelers!!!!

Patrick said...

expect to see riterations of what Philly did last night A LOT during the regular season.

Preseason or not, when Mark Sanchez and friends come in and light up your first team D, you've got a schematic mismatch and we can expect teams to try and emulate it as close as they possibly can.

Steve said...

McCullers may not be ready to push McLendon, but I think there's enough evidence to say that Thomas won't be the answer if McL goes down. Plus, with Keisel's return Thomas is looking at being third-string at DE.

Anonymous said...

In response to the commenter asking about Troy, I was right behind the Steelers bench and saw the whole thing. After the first Sanchez TD drive, Porter lit into a few guys. Then, the whole defense started to assemble (looked like Lebeau called them together) and Troy jumped into the middle and lit into everybody. He was really screaming - not sure I've ever seen him that animated or upset. After that, he went and stood away from the group while DL talked to the D.

Anonymous said...

Get frustrated if you want, but most of these comments reflect fan expectations and not team goals for the preseason. This isn't a lack of game planning, its almost game planning against your best interests to create film from which to learn.

AB wasn't targeted in 1H to get tape on Brown and Wheaton. I do have concerns about JJones on the pass rush, but actual game planning may help that situation. Sushi looks uncomfortable...no hiding that.

According to the preseason, the bottom dwellers of the NFL will be Pittsburgh and San Francisco and we should be preparing for a Jets/Vikings Super Bowl.

Coaches at this level are working to get something out of the preseason that we just don't see. Now go back to tying your flies for steelhead season and wait 16 more days for the real thing.

Mike

adamg said...

Tomlin specifically said that the Steelers would usually do a full game plan for the 3rd preseason, but given the short week plus travel they'd only do a limited one.

The biggest surprise to me was Lance Moore being held out. Presumably Moore will be the slot receiver and it would benefit the offense for him and BR to get some preseason reps just to get a feel for each other.

Dale Lolley said...

Moore was held out so they could get a better look at receivers 5-7. Heyward-Bey was the only one who showed up, though Roethlisberger had an off night.

As for game-planning, tough to do with just Monday and Tuesday to practice. Not a true game plan

Anonymous said...

What, nobody arrested, cited or sued today? Oh, the day's still young.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

The NFL's arrest rates are at 13% of the national average.

It's higher than other sports, but still extremely low.

Anonymous said...

Dale,

Are you going to write anything up on Redman? Sad to see his career end like that. He was a good role player for the Steelers for a few seasons and made some big plays for us.

Dale Lolley said...

I've made that point on radio. You could look in the police report of any paper on any day and find somebody pulled over and cited for having pot. Happens all the time.
Just doesn't make the front page or nightly news.

Anonymous said...

What are some websites that focus on stats like how many snaps players played with the starting offense this preseason?