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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Post Steelers-Giants thoughts

That wasn't the start that Stephon Tuitt was hoping for Saturday night in New Jersey.

He jumped offside on the first defensive series.

On the second series, with the Steelers in a nickel, he got trapped inside to open the hole for Rashad Jennings' long touchdown run.

I love Tuitt's upside, but he'll definitely hear about those two plays from defensive line coach John Mitchell.

In fact, he'll hear more about the one or two bad plays than the good ones he made, which were several.

He held the point of attack very well overall.

@ Tuitt wasn't alone in culpability on the long run. Cam Heyward got blown across the line, Jarvis Jones had a shot at hitting Jennings in the hole and Lawrence Timmons got mashed by a pulling offensive lineman in the hole to spring it.

Then, Will Allen missed a last-ditch tackle and it was off to the races.

Those kind of plays were this team's buggaboo in 2013. But I don't read too much into a preseason game. There was no game-planning going on where guys could have read that thing coming.

@ How about Jarvis Jones beating an offensive lineman on an inside move for a sack?

@ Le'Veon Bell only got three carries in this game, but he showed good power, running through some would-be tacklers for extra yardage. We didn't see that as much in 2013.

Bell is primed for a big season.

@ We only got a slight glimpse of Dri Archer's explosiveness in this game. But a 46-yard catch-and-run on a screen was a good start.

He does need to get a little more decisive when fielding punts, though. Too much dancing.

Get it and go.

@ I thought it was telling that Howard Jones was used on the first coverage unit.

The rookie linebacker shows a lot of promise and made two big fumble recoveries. That shows his speed. He's 6-4, 238 and needs to get stronger, but he can run.

Also of note on the first-team coverage unit was Brice McCain.

As I wrote before, McCain is a big hitter and should make this team as a coverage guy on special teams.

@ The Steelers had just one captain for this game: quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

They'll elect other captains later in the preseason, but Roethlisberger in the only guy left from last year's group.

@ The Steelers made it through this game with just one injury, a thumb to the eye of Ramon Foster. He'll be OK.

@ The Steelers' brass has to hold their breath when they see Bruce Gradkowski out there scrambling. If he gets hurt, that means Landry Jones moves up to No. 2. And we've seen backup QBs get hurt scrambling around in the preseason here before.

Right Charlie Batch?

@ The Giants were playing their second preseason game, but they were penalized 10 times for 109 yards, most of which were by their starters.

The Steelers, on the other hand, drew just five penalties.

@ Brad Wing didn't help himself in the non-existent punting battle.

He gets great hang time, no doubt. But hang time isn't everything.

While he had one first quarter punt downed inside the 20, he had another chance to pin the Giants back later in the first half and hit it just outside the 20.

They he had a 21-yard punt from his own goal that gave New York the ball at the Pittsburgh 35.

Adam Podlesh had better come back at some point. If not, the Steelers will be scanning the waiver wire for punters again when the preseason cuts are made.

@ Martavis Bryant can use this game as a big learning tool.

You've got to come back strong to the ball in the NFL every time.

He also needs to secure the ball better in this league - though I think he was contacted by a defender on his way to the ground on the Steelers' final offensive play.

But the coaching staff should have learned something as well. I noted earlier in the week that Bryant wasn't a natural returning punts. He lets the ball get into his pads when he catches it.

The coaching staff should now have learned the same thing, just in case it didn't already know.


adamg said...

In Wing's defense, he said the coaches were emphasizing hang time on punts. It looked like that was his main objective when punting.

Kudos to Sean Spence for making it all the way back. He played a very good game and looks as fast as ever.

McCullers played well. He's fast as well as big. I thought he more than held his own at NT. I can't see him being cut.

OTOH, the second team was bad. I tried to watch Adams and he seemed to do okay. I noticed Wallace nearly get steamrolled on a bull rush, but he managed to keep his feet. The other 3 OL were generally sieves or ragdolls.

Landry Jones is showing himself not to be an NFL-caliber qb. I don't know why OU qbs even get drafted. Bradford is terrible, too.

Anonymous said...

Any thoughts on Mike Adams?

Anonymous said...

I was at the game well before the start and timed a bunch of Wing's warmup punts. Hang time on all of 'em were 4.75 - 5.25, so there's that. The 21 yard punt was atrocious, but a bad bounce cut its yardage by half. I'm not panicking yet over punter. Think Wing can win this and still has the skills to be very good. His hang time will eliminate returns. He had better use this opportunity over the next couple exhibition games, though.

Tivo'd the game and haven't watched it yet, but still find it hard to believe that Bryant wasn't down by contact on that 4th down pass late in the game.

When the second team offensive line was in there against the Giants #1 D, the results were predictable. Lack of depth on o-line has to be concerning.

Anonymous said...

Meant to add that I saw a girl in the crowd wearing a Maysonet jersey! Gotta love steelers fans.

Dale Lolley said...

I don't get too concerned about the second team offensive line working as a unit. They were working against the Giants' top guys for part of that. And when are they going to be on the field as a unit? If they are, you're in trouble anyway. One at a time or two tops. You can protect them in those instances with a tight end or backs.

I thought Adams was OK. Nothing great, but better.

I knew they were working on Wing's hang time. But you still have to get some kind of distance. Hang time is also Podlesh's calling card

Anonymous said...

Mike Adams looks really bad for a guy in his third year.

Spence is looking so good you have to wonder if we didn't really need to draft Shazier.

adamg said...

Dale, the 2nd OL had 3 guys on it who started last year for the Steelers (Adams, Wallace and Whimper). Browning has been bouncing around PS' since 2011 and Hubbard was a Steeler UFDA/PS'er last year. Whimper was a turnstile.
Hubbard and Browning got no push at all off the line.

Adams was at least competent in not getting beat or giving up a sack.

Compare that with how the 3rd OL, comprised of all rookies and Adams did. They gave Jones time even when NYG knew he had to pass.

I figure Adams and Wallace are pretty much locks to be the 2 extra OL dressed on game days, but Whimper, Browning and Hubbard did nothing to help their cause making the team.

Anonymous said...

I know, preseason. But the fact that this team just cannot score td's from t1st from the 15 is more than alarming. It is the single biggest reason this team continues to underachieve. I love Ben, but maybe it is a him problem after 10 yrs in.

Anonymous said...

"On the second series, with the Steelers in a nickel, he (Tuitt) got trapped inside to open the hole for Rashad Jennings' long touchdown run."

Dale i'm watching this play over and over and that was not Tuitt's fault at all. Tuitt is being double teamed by the center and left guard While maintaining his area. The center and lg completely seal off the strong side defenders, there's nothing that they can do.

And like you said if Cameron Heyward doesn't get BLOWN off the ball and if he Stands his ground even slightly then Rashad Jennings has no hole to go through on that play. I'm sorry, but you should have never mentioned him in the same breath as J.J. Watt.

Will Allen doesn't recognize the play as run until too late and Mike Mitchell gets no blame at all? The guy took a horrible angle.

Anonymous said...

Yeah can't compare Heyward to Watt, isn't fair to him.

Timmons was also held on that play

Anonymous said...

"He (Wesley Johnson) hasn't shown me much to this point playing strictly at left tackle." - Dale

What's up with him playing all of his snaps at center, Did he get thrown into game action at center without any practice reps there?

snarky said...

Well I'm glad JJ Watt never has a bad play. What was Houstons record last year?

adamg said...

Johnson played all OL positions at Vandy. I'd guess they might possibly see him as the next Ramon Foster type jack-of-all-trades. I'm sure he's been worked at both C and OT. The Steelers like and want versitile linemen.

Anonymous said...

Idiot @ 4:58 PM

Find a play in JJ Watt's Fourth year where he get taken out of a play that easily. Also what does one defensive lineman have to do with the team's overall record. I guess Derek Wolfe is the reason why the Broncos had 13 wins

Anonymous said...

why is landry jones still on this team? he's not markedly better than anyone the team could sign off the street if they had to go to QB3. If they did have to go to QB3 they'd be pretty well and fucked anyway. he's not a developmental prospect/any kind of trade bait. he needs to go back to oklahoma and find himself a nice little offensive assistant coaching job.

John Kang said...

Timmons was so held on the big run.

Landry Jones didn't look good, playing against the Giants' 3rd Team D. I would hazard to say, bring in Tim Tebow as a tight end, because he's at least as good as Landry. Heck, he bet us with his arm.

Anonymous said...

I'm as big of a LeBeau fan as exists, but imo the lion's share of the blame on that play rests with him, and the balance on the safeties. They were in nickel facing 6 gaps and they have one of their 6 'non-DBs' in the box covering no gap whatsoever (Spence). And weakside at that. That means their two 300lb downlinemen had to account for 4 of the 5 OLmen. I can't fault Heyward or Tuitt for a crap play design. Tomlin was right, it was a gap integrity issue initially. But that was inherent in the design, not the players. After that, yeah its on the safeties to get em on the ground, limit the damage, and live for another play.

Anonymous said...

to this guy ^ cameron heyward was the one who got beat by one guy not lebeau. never dis the great d

Anonymous said...

I'm well aware Heyward got successfully blocked. Doesn't change the inherent flaw in the design. Tuitt and Heyward were head up on the guards. Two gapping both A's and B's. Worilds had the weak C. Jones 9'd outside the TE covering the strong D. Timmons was stacked over Heyward. I can only guess he had the strong C since its otherwise unaccounted for. So, um, what exactly is Spencer's fit/purpose in this play? Seriously? So that means you're already in nickel on first down and you're already pissing away another non-DB in the box. It's like last year everyone wanting to blame McLendon for the drop off in run D and not because they flipped from 60% base to 60% dime. It was an effed up play design. Could it have been executed better? Sure. But it doesn't change the fact that it was inherently flawed in design.

Anonymous said...

I'm not gonna criticize you dude people should be allowed to say what they want in comments section without being shunned but that's just the defense that was called. the offense has 3 wide's so the defense is in nickle. are they supposed to be in base D? bottom line players have to execute. if we were in dime then i would understand your frustration but we weren't

Anonymous said...

the flaw was that heyward was way more than just blocked. he was thrown out of the picture entirely by one guy. he took fault and was clearly embarrassed by it after the game. that rb would have had no where to go had heyward not been pushed all the way down the line by their LT

Anonymous said...

They may as well been in dime because Spence had absolutely no fit in this play. Heyward had the A and B and got whammed by the tackle. It happens. It shouldn't result in a big gain. If Spence has a fit inside where he belonged, Heyward doesn't have to worry about controlling the guard and both gaps and getting ear holed by the tackle. It was a terrible design given the down and distance. If it's 3rd and forever, ok fine. But please feel free and tell me what was that play designed to accomplish and what Spence's role was in that design. If LeBeau had one downlineman and 10 DBs on the field and that one DL gets blocked is it his fault if the play goes for 6? Not really different. Yes Heyward got blocked. Yes his execution shoulda been better. But its still a crap design. And if it wasn't such a crap design it likely gets backfilled for modest gain. I don't know why that is so hard to understand. Maybe if you explain why the design was a good fit for that particular offense and down/distance and what purpose Spence had in it instead of just getting pissing for questioning the playcall of a guy I have the highest regard for.

Anonymous said...

lol you're talking like as if the steelers knew the play that was coming, i assure you they didn't. spence has a role i also promise you that. it may just not have been obvious to you because of the play that the offense called.

Anonymous said...

that is a pass formation and the steelers are clearly expecting pass based on will allen's reaction. it took him forever to realize that was a running play

Patrick said...

everyone is aware this was a preseason game right?

TarheelFlyer said...

I honestly don't know how anyone could make an honest assessment of Grad or L. Jones at this point. Both of them were running for their lives. Jones I thought actually did a pretty good job on the last drive other than the pass to Moye which he shouldn't have thrown.

That being said, no QB can really function all that well with 1 Mississippi, 2 Miss type blocking, especially when the plays are not designed that way.

Anonymous said...

That wasn't the play the offense called. Manning audible into it. Wonder why? Did he think 'this is the perfect D for this play, lets see if our best beats their best'. Or is he thinking ' we've got em in a crap defense, lets check into a play that best potentially exploits it'. Why do you think they audibled into that play? Manning knew they had it dialed up, but Steelers fans just chalk it up to poor execution. Yeah, that must be it cuz Heyward is clearly seen getting rooted out. Nevermind Spence has zero fit in this play accounting for no gap whatsoever on the friggin backside, leaving them with essentially 5 in the box. So what's the point of blitzing him backside when even with 3 WRs the safe money is still on a run play. Better than 50/50. The only design Spence could have on that play was to blitz the Qb. Other than that , he's useless/irrelevant. On a play/down-distance where the O is still likely to run even with 3wrs and the D is highly vulnerable to the run with now 2 less run defenders. And against a Qb who can recognize that vulnerability and check into a run when he sees the opportunity. So again, what is Spence's role in that play and why was it even just an adequate play call in that situation and entirely on the players for just not executing that adequate playcall? Like I said, I'm as big of a LeBeau fan as there is, but it's ok to be honest. And I'd be surprised if I ever saw that same call in a similar situation ever again. Even with a healthy Shazier.

Patrick said...

maybe, just maybe, LeBeau, in his utter ignorance, ran that play in a pointless game to see how his players reacted/worked together in it, regardless of game situation. Maybe, he was not interested on going through 80 algorithims in his head, because he was more interested in seeing how the play call worked then its result.

My point is, this in-depth of questioning as to a playcall in preseason football is insane.

Anonymous said...

"I'd be surprised if I ever saw that same call in a similar situation ever again"


Is that so hard to understand?

Anonymous said...

"That wasn't the play the offense called. Manning audible into it"

What proof do you have that that he audibled? It doesn't look like anything happened to me. Formation didn't change, nothing.

Anonymous said...

lol video of bengals back up qb matt scott throwing up on the feild is funny.

Anonymous said...

Criticizing playcalling in the preseason is idiotic. They aren't really trying to "win" the game. It's a glorified practice to test players and get them ready for real games.

Teams don't gameplan and the play calls are more about testing the players than anything.

Save criticism for the coordinators for the regular season.

Anonymous said...

It was a package play. Jennings suggested as much postgame. 100% of the NFL runs package plays. Almost always on 1st down. They're designed to pick up 4 or 5 free yards and put the O on schedule. Package plays have 2 or 3 plays/options built into it. The QB reads the D presnap and picks the best option. If the D is playing off, he throws a smoke route to the WR on the right. If the D clears the box to beef up coverage, he hands it off. Cortez was playing 10 yards off but Manning still handed off. Why? Because it was still the best option given what the D was showing. THey had more blockers at the POA than the Steelers had defenders. Manning counted bodies and immediate turned to Jennings and said something.

So, yes, given the down/distance and the trend/tendencies of the entire NFL with package plays, LeBeau should know what's coming. Based on what he puts out there, the O will go with the option that best exploits it. It is a bad playcall to load up one way or the other on 1st down. You can't do that in today's NFL. Everybody runs package plays on first down. If you load up for the pass, the O options run. If you load up the box, the O options pass. This particular D made both options attractive. It's not a good play call. You can't say 'you don't know if the O will run or pass'. Yeah you can, cuz it's predicated on what the D shows. They may as well had 10 men on the field, and half of them DBs because that playcall guaranteed Spence's irrelevance.

Yeah, I get this is preseason. But how many big plays did the D give up last year? How many were on first down? Almost all. How many were in the first quarter or early second? Most. How many were on the first play of the drive? This was a major problem for the D last year. So when I see it repeat in preseason this year, yeah it's something worth taking a hard look at. Lot of people chalked up preseason last year to preseason.

marc said...

onto another topic, I did not see the steeler's game, but watched a few minutes of the browns and noticed the refs were especially critical of the DB's in coverage. was it similar in the steeler's game? based on what I saw, the WR's are going to rule the league this year if that is how they are going to call it.

Anonymous said...

It's a 'point of emphasis' this year. The refs generally call it really tight in the preseason, and if they get the desired change, tend to loosen up in the regular season. So I'm not surprised to see so many calls last week. But then again, offensive pass interference is also a point of emphasis this year and I don't recall any of those calls in the few preseason games I've watched. Quick scan around the league, looks like 12 OPIs have been called through a little over one week of preseason, and 19 were called all of last preseason. So, I guess they really are 'emphasizing' that as well.

Anonymous said...

I agree the Defense was gashed consistently last year on first downs and gave up a lot of big plays. I mostly attributed it to Lebeau schematically masking Vince Williams' weaknesses and playing Polamalu out of position.

And it is concerning the trend continued into the first preseason game, but I also think Lebeau is not showing any defensive tendencies until game 1.

Dale Lolley said...

Polamalu and Shazier were not on the field. That's two pretty big chess pieces. No?

There was no game-planning done for that game. Some guys got blocked and others missed tackles or took bad angles.

Remember, too, that it was New York's second game. We saw their starters in there much longer than Pittsburgh's. They were a little more game ready than the Steelers.

If I were a gambler, I would have bet the Giants for that reason alone.

datruth4life said...


After rewatching the game, I thought DE Nick Williams had a solid outing. He was physical at the point of attack, shed blockers and rocked the ballcarriers at the line of scrimmage. I think I might keep 7 DL this year (C. Thomas, McClendon, Heyward, Tuitt, McCullers, N. Williams, J. Mauro). I also thought Soto held the point well when he was in the game and played solid on special teams. Do you think HoJo has a legitimate chance to make the 53 or do you think he is probably auditioning for a practice squad spot? Shazier better not spend too much time on the sideline. Spence is hungry and is looking good.

Dale Lolley said...

They were using Johnson on all of the top special teams units. That should tell you something.

Shazier is starting, Period. He was back in a limited fashion today. He's light years better than Spence.

Anonymous said...

Polamalu was on the field when Pryor went 93 yards and a score, no? And Shazier woulda been just as irrelevant on that play as Spence was. Maybe Polamalu mitigates the damage to 12-15 yards, but it still a bad call. What's so hard about acknowledging that? It's ok to say Heyward crapped it. And he did. And nobody is getting pissy when that's acknowledged. It's ok to say the safeties crapped it. And they did. And if Haley, Arians, or Whiz ever made a bad call there would be no shortage of fans saying so. But for whatever reason LeBeau is off limits. You'd think I called Santa a pedophile. I'm not saying LeBeau is an idiot. Or that he needs to be fired or retire. I love LeBeau. I think he's brilliant. But that was a bad call. And it should be ok to acknowledge that. LeBeau did them no favors with that call.

Anonymous said...


What are you talking about it was a bad call? You keep implying that he's supposed to somehow know that the Giants are going to run that play right there. If Heyward doesn't get thrown out of his gap this is a non-conversation.

The Giants had 3 receivers on the field. If the Steelers stick with 4 linebackers then they potentially get stuck with a linebacker covering a receiver.


JJisntPerfect said...

Anon @5:34

I guarantee you there is film of your beloved JJ Watt getting solidly blocked and being a non-factor in plays run to his side, in every year of his career thus far.

WestGaSteeler said...

Anon 10:23

You don't know what happens if Shazier was on the field, unless you're clairvoyant. Also, if Timmons isn't blatantly held and tackled, it could easily have been stuffed.

JJisPerfect said...


Patrick said...

I just watched the last series of the giants game, ending with Bryant fumble. But, call me a Landry Jones fan based on that drive.

Ugly drives because of all the mistakes and I don't know how he handled pressure earlier, but he showed good pocket presence and most of his throws were on point with several bad drops. The one long ball was an obvious miss and poor throw.

I think he has potential to be a dependable backup. Would like to see him with the ones.

Anonymous said...

Patrick you're nuts. The guy virtually threw an int and lost a fumble on the last drive vs Giant camp bodies and you want to see him against ones?! Stared down his receivers constantly, he would get eaten alive...

Steve-O said...

Obviously there's a lot of room to grow, that's what preseason is all about but let's not get carried away. Need I remind everyone that Jerry Glanville used to field a winning team every preseason and we all know how many championships he won with the Oilers/Falcons.

This is a time to put players to the test in ways that may be uncomfortable and not play to their strengths. It tells you where they are limited and it tells you where there might be untapped potential. Game three is usually where you see a little more sophisticated gameplan. For now we saw glimpses of good and bad... Way too soon to pass judgment!