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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thursday news, notes

Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau confirmed today that cornerback Brice McCain will start in the team's base defense Monday night against Houston.

This, of course, means that Cortez Allen has been bumped. But it does not mean he has been benched.

And there is a difference.

Allen will still play in the Steelers' nickel defense, which means he'll play at least 60 percent of the time against the Texans, so it's not a true benching.

Allen had a tough game last Sunday against the Browns, while McCain has been playing well. McCain also is quite familiar, if not with Houston's offense because of the new coaching staff, then at least with the players. He spent the previous five years covering them in practice.

So it makes sense for the Steelers to get McCain on the field as much as possible against the Texans.

But that certainly doesn't mean Allen is a bust or no longer in the Steelers plans.

In fact, he's hardly the first guy to be replaced, only to come back and be a solid starter. If he needs any help in that department, he need only walk over and ask Ike Taylor about it.

@ Rookie linebacker Ryan Shazier was limited today after being pretty active Wednesday in practice. He also appeared to shed the knee brace that he practiced with on Wednesday.

@ Todd Haley said today that rookie Martavis Bryant will get some opportunities this week. Of course that has to come at the expense of someone.

The guess here is that Justin Brown is going to lose some PT. The Steelers finally seem settled in on using Lance Moore more often, so Bryant will likely take some of Brown's snaps - if, in fact, Brown is even active.


Steve-O said...

I seem to recall William Gay struggling early in his carreer too and now he's one of our better DBs. It'll be up to Allen to grow from this and I think he's the type of guy who will do exactly that. He won't ever be mistaken for Darelle Revis but his future is still bright.

qwikdoc said...

Steve O - I was thinking the same thing. I used to groan watching Gay get burned by tight ends and generally looking lost out there. Allen looked very similar against Cleveland. We can only hope this lights a fire under him and he makes the same strides Gay has made.

qwikdoc said...

I think everyone was surprised when they didn't address cornerback early in the draft last year. Let's hope they don't make the same mistake next spring.

marc said...

gay is adequate as a DB and can excel at times, especially in the slot, imo, but how many other teams would he start for?

allen looks lost at times, as if he's not sure he's doing the right thing. sometimes it looks like he's guessing what the WR is going to do - similar to a hitter guessing on the pitch - instead of just reacting. whatever the case, he needs to get back to the basics and rebuild his fundamentals.

btw, last draft there were people hoping the steelers might get the CB - Gilbert, who the browns ended up taking. well, he was benched he's playing so poorly.

I miss the 35-40 rushes per game, setting up play action, controlling the clock and letting the defense attack the QB when they are forced to pass in the 4th quarter. sigh...

Anonymous said...

About time we see an end to the Justin Brown experiment. Moore and Bryant bring more to the table in terms of size and experience. Someone please make a play for gods sake.

Steelers43 said...

The Landry Jones and Dri Archer picks should have been used to target CB's.

How you take those guys I don't know. Terrible draft decisions.

marc said...

I didn't mind dri archer, but landry jones pick was just ridiculuous.

qwikdoc said...

The Steelers choose not to be players for the top free agents, preferring instead to develop their draft picks. That philosophy makes poor draft decisions even more glaring. They have had poor overall drafts recently and compound that by giving big contracts to unproven players. Nobody here knows who has the most input in those decisions but I have to believe Colbert and Tomlin share equally in their recent personnel failures. Curtis Brown comes to mind as does Landry Jones, Dri Archer, Chris Rainey, Ziggy Hood and others.

Dale Lolley said...

Curtis Brown was ranked pretty highly by everyone. Same goes for Ziggy Hood. He was rated as a first-round talent by pretty much every evaluator I saw. Guys don't work out.

BTW, you can say Curtis Brown is a bust because he never amounted to anything and is no longer in the league. Ziggy Hood is, however, still playing. So he's not a bust. He just didn't develop into a star. It happens to every team.

Anonymous said...

Semantics. Ziggy Hood was a massive disappointment and consistently one of the lower rated DE's in the league. A terrible first round pick.

qwikdoc said...

Yes. That's my point. The Steelers have to have their first 3 rounds of draft picks perform, especially the first rounders. Ziggy has never played up to his draft status and in fact has played more like a 5th or 6th round pick. I'm crossing my fingers that Jones lives up to his pick.

Dale Lolley said...

It's not semantics. A bust is a guy who is out of the league in two or three years. A guy who plays in the league five-plus years, as Ziggy now has, isn't a bust. He didn't ask to be drafted in the first round.

The Steelers missed on the pick. He didn't fit with what they do.

Mike Rice said...

So the jets acquired Harvin for a conditional draft pick. I would of loved to see him in black and gold. Why does it seem like Pitt never makes moves like this? Don't get me wrong, I'd rather they build through the draft and promote from within, but here is a guy that could help in a big way and only a conditional pick? Or was his contract horrendous?

Dale Lolley said...

Harvin is a cancer. Why do you think he's been traded twice?
Plus, the Steelers couldn't have afforded his contract.

Anonymous said...

Percy Harvis is the last thing the Steelers need. His contact is HUGE and the is guy so dumb he can't figure out how to run routes.

Mike Rice said...

Exactly what I thought. The question was somewhat serious and somewhat tongue in cheek. Over 10 mil a year is obviously way outside the steelers reach and the problem has to go past his contract since they gave him away for nothing. I much prefer to see them build through the draft and I do still hold out some faith thay this team can salvage the season.. It's gonna be hard, and it could just as easily go in the other direction. I think a lot of steelers fans are grasping at straws in panic. I look for the steelers to stay the course with no wholesale changes until the season ends

Anonymous said...

Ziggy Hood is, however, still playing. So he's not a bust.

I don't think anyone introduced the word bust except you. He said poor draft decision and personnel failure with reference to Hood, and others. Didn't use the word bust.

You said he highly was considered first round talent. Yeah, as a 43 UT, not as a 34 DE. Most of those who thought he was round one talent were also surprised when a 34 took him with the last pick in round one. Then you said he didn't fit what they do. Sounds like you're saying it was a personnel failure and/or a poor draft decision. Which is what you initially took issue with by inferring that as labeling Hood a bust.

DEL jzc said...


You are grossly incorrect with how often you think Lebeau and this defense is using their nickle packages.

We average 4.30 defensive back snap counts per play. That equates to playing nickle coverage no more than 35% of the time (very few plays we only have 3 DB's on the field).

Lebeau has not gone below 4 LB's all year. He is using a heavy rotation of D-linemen (2.7 snap counts per play).

Bottom line is this is a pretty big demotion. Allen was at 97%+ of snap counts to date. Now, against a heavy run team in Houston, he will likely go to 30% (if they really do intend on McCain being the starter with Gay).

We will see.

Dale Lolley said...

Depends on the matchup. Cleveland doesn't run a lot of three receiver sets. McCain played just 13 snaps because of that. But Houston will use it more.

Anonymous said...

To date, the PSD has employed nickel 33.5% of the time. Zero dime so far after 499 times last year, tho Polamalu can't really be counted as a DB in that particular set.

But Lolley is correct with his 60% guesstimate. Houston has used 3WR sets exactly 60% of their snaps so far this year. And the Steelers don't use nickel short of 3WRs sets. So if Houston maintains their average for the year the Steelers defense will likely match those 3WR sets with nickel on those 60% and none on fewer than 3 WRs.