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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Deep thoughts from Steelers-Bills

Ryan Shazier's debut for the Steelers Saturday night was as good as any I remember in 22 seasons of covering this team.

He was everywhere. But that's what we were seeing from him at the offseason workouts and early on in training camp. The kid goes sideline to sideline.

And that's why I didn't get too crazy concerned about the long touchdown run the Steelers allowed in preseason Week 1 against the Giants. Shazier wasn't there. Nor was Troy Polamalu.

That's two pretty good guys up the middle.

@ I saw former Steelers team photographer Mike Fabus, who is now retired, in the press box before the game. Fabus is the guy who came up with the idea to put Rod Woodson in a Superman outfit his rookie season and shoot that for the cover of Steelers Digest.

I'm guessing Fabus' creative juices were flowing after that debut by Shazier.

@ Think the preseason doesn't matter?

Watch Dick LeBeau's reaction after Robert Golden broke up a pass on fourth and goal at the end of the first half.

@ I don't understand the decision by both the Giants and Bills, both of which play in the northeast, to not send their kickoffs short to get a good look at their coverage teams.

How are they going to know if their coverage units are any good if they don't take a look at them?

Yes, I have selfish reasons, as well. I want to see Dri Archer on some returns.

@ It's tough to judge the backup quarterbacks based on the fact the Steelers have about 2 1/2 capable reserve offensive linemen.

But the Steelers did put Landry Jones in with the starting line for one series and he promptly threw an interception.

@ Ben Roethlisberger put the ball in the air 11 times and didn't get dirty in this game.

The Steelers exclusively ran the no-huddle when Roethlisberger was in the game, and it was very, very effective.

The offensive line was a big part of that working against a Buffalo defensive front that was one of the best in the league last season.

@ Victor So'oto isn't going to get the publicity that Howard Jones is getting for recovering three fumbles in the first two preseason games, but So'oto has forced two of those loose balls Jones has picked up.

@ Robert Golden got trucked along the sideline by fullback Evan Rodriguez but had the sense to quickly get up. And when Shamarko Thomas forced a fumble, Golden was there to jump on it.

He also had the pass breakup in the end zone and an interception later in the game.

If I'm veteran safety Will Allen, who missed this game with a hamstring injury, I'm not sitting out long.

I think both guys make the team, but you never know.

@ Shazier, by the way, looked like had been through a car crash after this game. His forehead was bruised and battered.

@ Lawrence Timmons' eyes lit up when I asked him about all of the young linebackers making  plays on this defense.

Timmons has taken on a leadership role on this team and really seems to be enjoying it.

"As the older player, it's good to see the younger players you've been working with go out and perform well," Timmons said.

Shazier was an animal in this game, but you also had contributions from So'oto, Jones and Terence Garvin, who had a big sack.

The linebacker position on this team is going to be a tough cut.

@ By the same token, it's going to be tough to decide who the fifth receiver will be based on these games. The backup quarterback work has been so shoddy because of second- and third-string offensive line issues that the reserve receivers aren't getting many chances.

I think Justin Brown is still No. 5, but I can't be sure about that because none of those guys are getting quality chances.


adamg said...

Agree Shazier looked great and had that nice INT, too. They have a lot of good LBs.

I didn't see much from Cam Thomas and wonder if he isn't in danger of not making the final cut. McLendon again got shoved around at NT and might make a better DE. Tuitt looks very good and so did McCullers even against Eric Wood.

Thought Simmons did ok at OG after Browning went out. Saw Adams get speed rushed a couple times, but was ok otherwise. Wesley Johnson looked competent at C.

I can't see L Jones making the team. It's never good to get 1st team reps and then proceed to throw a pick.

Seemed, though, like the coaches had a list of players they were determined to get a good look at.

Anonymous said...

Cam Thomas played good first preseason game, not sure about this one. He's still our starting LDE and there's 0 question whether he makes the team or not.

Anonymous said...

Shazier wouldn't have been in the middle on that play last week. He would've been off to the left accounting for dead irrelevant space just like Spence was, and just as removed from the play With that, I'm done belaboring that.

That TD to Brown was a package play, just like that Jennings TD was. On this particular play they had a bubble screen set up to the left. Roethlisberger looked over there initially, which drew the LBs over, creating a nice big hole for Brown to run through. Package plays put the offense at an advantage, because they pick the option that exploits matchups/numbers deficiencies. That's why defenses can't overcommit one way or another. They have to play honest and patient to react. They're usually good for 4 or 5 free yards, but illustrated once again you can see what happens when a defense overcommits, whether it's one side or the other or run v pass, or whatev.

Anonymous said...

Did offense go no huddle / 3 WR sets only because Johnson and Spaeth were out? I hope they don't see a lot of snaps, when healthy

Alex K said...

I totally agree regarding the backup offensive line and qb play. Landry Jones is so bad you cant even evaluate the wr's.

No way he should make this roster.

Ed S. said...

Hey Anon 8:52,

You really don't realize how ridiculous you sound.

So you know exactly how Shazier and/or Troy would have reacted on that play had they been on the field? You have some sort of ability to view alternate realities and saw what happened?

Anonymous said...

Spence was schematically removed from having any chance whatsoever from affecting the outcome of that play. Same would be true of anyone playing that position on that wtf playcall. And Troy was on the field for every one of those big gashers last year and on a few of them was a contributing factor for them going for 6. Including Pryor's jaunty scamper and Peterson's big one. Where Tomlin warned him all week to watch for the crackback from that look. But he got caught and sealed anyways. So, yeah, ridiculous. No guarantees having Troy alters the outcome. Although, like I said, maybe and at best it goes for 12-15 instead of 70. It was a bad play call poorly executed. But Spence had zero fit in probably 80% of the Giants playbook. And his bizarre post compromised the entire D. I really don't get why pointing out something that should be obvious gets peoples teats twisted. If you want to believe the play was fine and the execution poor, fine. I disagree with half of that, but ok.

Ed S. said...

My point is, there is also no guarantee Shazier and Troy being out there on that specific play doesn't alter the outcome of it.

Maybe Shazier's initial assignment has him in the wrong place, but maybe he reacts to the play and makes a tackle. Although had Timmons not been bear hugged and then tackled to the ground, he might have made the tackle in the hole for no gain.

Anonymous Brian said...

How did McCullers look? Has he had a live-action chance against first-teamers yet? Nice stroke of luck - getting him late - if he ends up being a player. Saw the GIFs of him looking pretty good in Giants game, although I haven't seen either preseason game.

They should just get Landry from Friday Night Lights, apparently?

Dale Lolley said...

Cam Thomas is in no danger of being cut. They rotated him, Tuitt and McLendon freely throughout the time they were in there.

They went into this game wanting to work on the no-huddle. Maybe the guys they had out had something to do with that, but it just shows they're not married to doing things any one way.

McCullers is a work in progress.

adamg said...

Sorry, but McLendon is just not a NT, no matter how hard they try to hammer this square peg into a round hole. He would be better off at DE, but apparently the mgmt didn't learn from the same mistake they made with playing Hood out of his natural position of DT/NT.

Tom said...

Dale you make a great point about the number 5 receiver on this team, Steelers would be wise next preseason game to let Bryant, Moye, Hey-Bey, and Justin Brown play at least one series with Ben and the the rest of the 1's to see what we have. Would hate to cut J Brown or even Martavis and watch them catch on with an inner division rival. Although I doubt Bryant is going anywhere.

Dale Jr. said...

Anonymous @ 8:52 AM & 2:19 PM must be either Emmanuel Sanders or Ryan Clark

Steve said...

There's no chance they cut Bryant. Did Moye even play last night? If he didn't, that doesn't speak well of his chances. We know DHB has suspect hands, but he also looked kind of slow. I'd say unless he or Moye really shines the next two weeks, the #5 spot is J. Brown's.

Is Vince Williams viewed as a lock to make the roster? If he is, he shouldn't be.

Steve said...

It's funny how many keep saying McLendon isn't a NT despite the stats to the contrary.

Dale Jr. said...


Justin Brown is already the #4 receiver.

Vince Williams is a lock, why would you cut him? The guy has been awesome in camp laying big hit after big hit.

emac2 said...

I think it's going to be very tempting to run Justin Brown out as the number 3 receiver because of his blocking.

My quick predictions

Tuitt is going to start at DE from day one.

Landry jones goes to the practice squad because he isn't a risk to get claimed and because it would matter as much as losing the player we would cut to keep him.

Carter and Allen will both get cut.

Adams and Whimper will get cut and replaced with a signing or trade.

The team will be poorly balanced to start the season as they elect to let go of safety blankets and older guys for more of the kids and a couple of acquisitions.

Steve said...

Dale Jr.,

First off, hope you finally win the title this year!

Re: Williams. I've seen the reports of him having a great camp, too, but he's being outshined (outshone?) by multiple guys during actual games. I know the argument will be he 'knows the system' but how much does that matter if you can't make plays?

Steve said...

I don't think there's any chance they pull the plug on Adams until after he's at least had a full season with Munchak. Really, I don't think he's looked that bad. Some will point to Jones' fumble last night where Adams ended up being pushed back, but that was with Jones holding the ball for an eternity and having no pocket awareness. I don't think Whimper's going anywhere, either. He was decent when forced into action last season.

Re: Landry Jones. If you spend a fourth round pick on someone and they're not good enough to have on the 53 after their second camp, I don't think there's any point in using a PS spot on them.

Dale Jr. said...

Lol Steve you're confusing me as a nascar driver when in fact my goal is to be little Dale Lolley - Hence my replying to posts.

Dale Jr. said...

Vince Williams is expected to fill Timmons underwear should he go down at any point this season, I'd rather have Williams there than any other MLB. Spence fills Shazier underwear quite well.

marc said...

i haven't been able to see either of the first two games. should we be worried they aren't generating any type of run game right now or are they just working on other stuff?

Dale Lolley said...

There's no way Vince Williams doesn't make the team.

Kevin Colbert has said numerous times he likes to keep three QBs.

If your third QB is on the practice squad, he is easy for another team to sign. Doesn't sound like a big deal, but the QBs know the whole offense. Therefore, a team could sign the QB off the PS the week before it plays the Steelers.

There's no issue with the run game. The first unit ran the ball well at NY. They lined up mostly in shotgun this week. The draws didn't work. When they lined up under center and tried to run, they ran it OK. That was not the focus this week.

adamg said...

Well, one of Kay or Jones will be cut and both know the offense, so what's the big deal about losing the "winner" off the PS? In any event, there is so much film and sound these days, I doubt any offense is a big secret.

snarky said...

I have to eat some crow here. Shazier looks like something very special. I to don't recall any rookie debut going that well. And he did it with the ones.