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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Post-Saints thoughts

I thought the Saints defense would be a bad matchup for the Steelers. I thought the Steelers would run and pass their way through them with no issues.

I thought the Steelers would force a turnover or two that would change this game.

Turns out, I had my teams backward.

@ Ben Roethlisberger was horrible in this game for the first three quarters. And before we start blaming hand injuries, realize that he was 2-7 for 31 yards before banging his hand on Curtis Lofton at the end of the first quarter.

He had also already thrown what should have been a pick 6.

Roethlisberger was not good Sunday by any stretch of the imagination until the fourth quarter. And the Steelers can't afford for him to be not good.

The easy thing  to do is blame the head coach or coaching staff for this game. But that doesn't hold water. Roethlisberger can take this one on his shoulders.

Maybe it will inspire him to pick it up down the stretch.

@ The defense played inspired football in the first quarter. The offense played inspired football - outside of Roethlisberger - in the first and fourth quarters.

In between were a bunch of blah. It's become a recurring theme for this team.

@ I'm sure you'll hear all of the "flat" talk that is thrown around after every loss. But the defense allowed two first downs on the first three New Orleans possessions and the offense was moving up and down the field in the first quarter.

@ The Steelers are now 2-4 in games that start at 1 p.m. And they're 2-4 in games in which they allow a 100-yard rusher.

Their remaining four games all start at 1 p.m. There's nothing that can be done about that.

But the 100-yard rushers? That's something they can certainly work on.

My first move would be to get Stephon Tuitt into the starting lineup. Getting Steve McLendon back will help as well.

Either would keep Cam Thomas off the field more.

And with Brett Keisel likely done for the season (career?) with a torn triceps, it's time to get around to Tuitt.

@ Despite the loss, the Steelers are still in pretty much the same position they were before the game. Win out and they're in the playoffs.

Losses by Baltimore and Cleveland helped that. Sweeping Cincinnati and also beating Atlanta and Kansas City would put the Steelers at 11-5.

But does anyone have confidence in this team to do that? Only if Roethlisberger plays his best.

@ Le'Veon Bell spent a lot of time pass blocking when he wasn't running the ball in the first half. He was unleashed in the second half, catching eight passes for 159 yards.

Some of that came in garbage time at the end, but Bell should have been a bigger part of the passing game throughout.

@ If you would have told me the Steelers would hold Jimmy Graham without a catch, I'd have guaranteed a victory.

But Drew Brees was good, really good in this game. He threw his five TD passes to five different receivers.

44 comments:

Easley said...

No way this team wins out. They are trending toward another 8-8 year, which is exactly the team they are.

Anonymous said...

8-8 Colbert 'unacceptable'? Or 8-8 Colbert 'encouraging'? Cuz apparently there's a difference.

Dale Lolley said...

They're definitely going to finish better than 8-8. They would have to win 1 of their final five to finish 8-8. That's not going to happen

JJ said...

At what point do the coaches become accountable?!?! Lebeau's d is terrible against remotely accurate qb's. The secondary scheme is just garbage. And Tomlin? C'mon. He is an average coach, coaching an average team. Ben was terrible today. The coaches r below average every single game. If the coaches really make zero difference in the outcome of a game, why are they paid so much? We fans r stuck with the garbage that is Tomlin for the remainder of ben's yrs and that is so very sad.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Easley said...

In 2012 they were also 7-5, and then went on to drop 3 straight. I'm hopeful that doesn't happen again, but how can anyone watch this team and say it "definitely" won't?

Anonymous said...

The football gods (i.e. the NFL) give Mikey a gift: a bye week while their opponent has a short week and the dome team opponent also has to play in the outside. The NFL hands Mikey the gift wrapped box, but Mikey drops it and it breaks. When going to pick it up, Mikey accidentally kicks it and it goes over a cliff. What was in the box? The Steelers playoff hopes.

The Great Motivator enters the post game conference. “We played Mikey ball** today, any questions?” Knowing what the term means, the press is silent. Then one of the reporters abruptly blurts out “What about those Penguins?” There is joyful chatter and soon the most recent debacle is forgotten. Mikey ends the press conference by saying “I think we can have another non-losing season without making the playoffs again!” Cheers erupt, progress has been made.

Mikey ball can be taken to a higher level to encompass the entire season: Playoffs, playoffs, playoffs? Mikey walks into Art’s office at the end of the season. “This playoff thing, how do you get into it, do you buy tickets or what? I’d be willing to contribute $250,000, though it didn’t work last year, to get in.”

Or Mikey ball can be taken to a lower level to include individuals: While Belichek is playing chess, Mikey is taking the black and red checker pieces and putting them in his mouth to see which tastes better. When asked why he had problems with Blount, but Belichek seemed to handle him pretty well, Mikey replied “dats raycist”.

As the playoffs fade into a distant memory for a third consecutive year, the solution should be real simple. At the end of the year, Mikey is told that either the Steelers make the playoffs in 2015 or he’s out, mediocrity is not a standard. This will also benefit the local economy as I know there’s a lot of coal in Pittsburgh. To paraphrase Ferris, just give it to Mikey and Pittsburgh will soon be the diamond center of the world.

Dale, while we appreciate your optimism and it’s not mathematically impossible for the Steelers to make the playoffs, how much faith would you have in a playoff team that lost to the Bucs and the Jets? While stranger things have happened, I find the Steelers making the playoffs to be embarrassing at this point, they don’t deserve to be on the dance floor.

** Mikey ball – when the Steelers play down to the level of a completely inferior opponent and lose to them, a relatively common phenomenon the last few seasons.



bruinmann77 said...

Dale the OT were below par today Adams was below the Line. Our QB was totally off today. But the CB play was below par Ike and Gay and Blake with a terrible hold on a potential sack hurt. The steelers need to focus the 2015 Draft on getting at least one Playmaker Cb.Worlids has been a use waste of money and that another postion that might have to be looked @. The fina is watching Cam Thoas getting blown off the bal while Big dan Sits.They coaches need to change and find ways to get rookies on the field like other teams do

bruinmann77 said...

BTW the steelers will need to start next week with a big win in Cinny

DAG said...

Here's the deal - The Steelers are a mediocre team that cannot overcome general mistakes (penalties, turnovers) or a ridiculously bad performance by their "elite" QB to win games against even sub-.500 teams. (If you're struggling for a playoff spot, losing to other teams in the same position is no way to help your cause). The defense is not built to hold teams to 14-20 points anymore, especially with:
1. today's rules
2. the (mostly) complete lack of quality scouting & emphasis by the F.O. on the secondary.
This whole "value" thing needs to get thrown out. If other teams can scout out a starting CB in the 3rd or 4th round, there is no reason for the Steelers to claim the "value is not there" in the 2nd round.
3. And, please, stop lining up guys in the backfield (Miller, 1st play of the game), only to move them out to their more "normal" position. The other team is not fooled, and you're only asking for some sort of pre-snap penalty

adamg said...

The DBs looked pretty good when the front 7 produced pressure on the qb. In today's NFL no DB is going to stop a well-thrown ball on a well-designed pass play.
What they really need is that Steed/Hampton type NT. If there's one available when their 1st pick rolls around, that should be it. McCullers might turn into that guy, but it never hurts to have 2 quality NTs and it would allow McLendon to move to DE, when he's probably better suited.

At this point in his career, BR is what he is. I expect Colbert to be drafting his heir in 2015.

ibygeorge said...

You said it Dale, "And the Steelers can't afford for him to be not good." When will the rumors start for a trade to Arizona. How good of a QB is needed when you have the best WR & RB in the NFL? The defense is in dire need of quality players at several positions. Rothlisbergers career is closer to the end than the start and the defense looks years away from being formable. How much better would Arians be with Rothlisberger, how much better would Rothlisberger be with a decent defense and a friend for his coach, and how much better would the Steelers be with some of the defensive holes plugged up,

Theosa said...

Big Ben’s accomplishments are well documented and he is the only QB other than Bradshaw that helped win Steelers Superbowls but let’s face the reality, Ben cannot win another trophy without a good defense. And by the looks of current Steelers affairs this is not going to happen anytime soon. Steelers defense need some serious makeover and recent drafts have not been helpful. The two ways to fix this defense are either through free agents signing or via having extra first & second round draft picks. The best way moving forward for the Steelers would be to trade Ben when he still has value. Teams like Arizona would trade some of the current players on roster as well as future first round picks. This would help improve defense and having players like Bell and Brown on Steelers offense, they could stay competitive even with a game manager type QB. And Mike Tomlin has to go; he clings on older players for too long and actually prefers them. Does anyone know why Cam Thomas is even on the team let alone a starter? Steelers will have a tough schedule next year playing two good west coast conferences and after 2016 season, Steelers might have no choice but to let Tomlin go after another playoff miss.

Anonymous said...

The Cards just signed Palmer to an extension last month. They can get out from under it and 'save' cap space, but it would still be a bit costly in reality. And I don't know if they want to admit to throwing away real money just yet. Besides, they would have to cut Palmer before the super bowl, otherwise his salary and roster bonus become fully guaranteed. Then they'd have to wait a month for the new league year to start and hope they can work out some sort of trade for Roethlisberger. I don't see that happening. But Arians hearts Roethlisberger, and vise versa. And Arizona is obsessed with all things Steelers. Not impossible, just really really unlikely.

Theosa said...

Yeah makes sense for Arizona not to trade for Ben but there would be multiple teams interested in Ben.

ibygeorge said...

The path to the SB gets more difficult once a team signs a $100 million QB. It takes up 10% of the payroll leaving less for building a 53 man roster. The holes in this defense can only be filled immediately through FA. Rothlisbergers contract leaves no cap space for this to happen. An Arizona deal could be a win-win for everyone, if they can afford Rothlisberger.

Theosa said...

ibygeorge,

I just realized you echoed the same thoughts before me :)

Anonymous said...

This team is so embarassing

marc said...

trading #7 is a pipe dream, for those that desire it.

I think what we are seeing right now on defense is a missed evaluation in two spots - NT and CB.

they thought they could get away with McClendon (or McClendon types) and still get the run support and pressure on the QB they need. but, adamg is right and this defense needs a stud NT. McCullers might turn into that guy, or he might not, but they need to find one.

they also missed on cortez allen. they thought he was the next #1 CB and apparently were way off. as dale mentioned before, he might bounce back and be very good. but, how in the world can the guy you thought would be your #1 be riding the pine?

what bugs me about these two misses is that they were guys already on the roster. they had plenty of "in person" info to make the evaluations and blew it. it's not like missing on a draft pick, which I completely understand will happen because it's such a crap shoot sometimes.

I also agree with DAG, forget the whole "value" pick right now. first two picks next draft need to be DB and NT (unless of course McCullers morphs into a stud).

highly unlikely this team makes the playoffs. why? - because it would require consistency from a team/players/coaches that hasn't been there the entire season. if they don't make the playoffs, tomlin's rear should deservedly be placed on the proverbial hot seat.

finally, dale's nickname should be "sunshine".

Theosa said...

marc,

We all know what’s wrong with this team, add OLB to your list on defense too. But what’s the fix?

DD said...

I think at this point, we all realize that this team has been mediocre for 4 yrs now. So why is that? Well, one is age. For which Father Time is accountable. One is poor drafting. For which Colbert (and Tomlin to a certain extent) are accountable. One is game planning/scheme. For which the coaches are accountable. And one is lack of cap space due to large contract signings, kicking the can down the road via amending contracts and simply bad signings. For which Colbert is responsible. Perhaps throw in a lack of leadership as well, for which everyone is accountable. Now of course the players DO have to execute and they often do not, but we cannot say that the reason this team is so very average has nothing to do with the front office or coaching. It absolutely does and it is easy to see in the lack of any consistency. Flashes of brilliance followed by flashes of ineptitude is a recipe for, guess what.......6-10 to 10-6 records or somewhere in between. Is that bottom feeder?? No. Is it elite? No. It is average. Is that ok, absolutely not. The expectations of a good organization should be to exceed expectations. That is why 4 yrs of the same thing is so infuriating.

marc said...

theosa,
well, it's easier said than done, and it occurs at all levels.

clearly, players need to prepare/execute better.

coaches need to put them in positions to succeed and find ways to supplement their motivation (imo, the primary source of motivation for a player should always come from the player internally).

management needs to evaluate and select players better, FA's and draftees. though, offensively there are some pretty good picks playing right now.

the solution is comprehensive because all three levels are partially responsible for this mediocrity. if they want to climb out of the quick sand, they need to do it together.

joe said...

dale, shamarko has been injured, but what do the coaches think of him for next year ? he should start next season, but is he going to be any good ?

Theosa said...

marc,

Agreed with what you have said but problem is they are going nowhere, not anytime soon, not with current roster on defense. And with cape restrictions something gotta give. Trading Ben and letting Tomlin go will spur some needed changes and need is now. I hope they find a way to keep Ben and somehow bring some talent in but I just don’t see it simultaneously happening. Keeping Ben would be a safe bet for Steelers FO though, some good wins here and there, keep the fans hopeful, and coaches get to keep their jobs. But my guess, Steelers will remain mediocre and we will be talking the same issues next year and years after that.

marc said...

personally, I think the real growing pains for the defense start next year. keisel, Harrison, #43 and taylor all will be gone. regardless of talent, that's a ton of experience and leadership.

I think the steelers are content with their LB'ers. jones' injury has delayed any real evaluation of his improvement this year, but he is young and has potential. shazier clearly has potential. Timmons is a good player, not great. spence, Williams, whoever else make up a good supporting cast for the 4th spot. I don't foresee them making a high draft pick or FA signing there.

D-line is up in the air. Still don't know about tuitt, though dale clearly thinks he should be playing more. McCullers is young, but obviously raw. heyward is good, but seems to lack consistency, to me. McClendon is in the wrong defense, imo. I think this is where they should focus their offseason. whether it be thru draft, FA or both, they need to find an impact player. I wouldn't mind opening up the wallet here, but you know how that goes with the rooneys.

secondary is another area where it's up in the air for obvious reasons. but, imo, the secondary play will feed off the d-line. they absolutely must find dominant d-linemen if they want to make a run at the super bowl anytime in the next 2-3 years.

Anonymous said...

Colbert should be fired. I don't see how you can debate that.

Whether Tomlin should go is something to be discussed. I'm just not sure what Tomlin brings to the table for this team. He isn't a great motivator, (see losses to terrible teams) evaluator of talent or a great strategy guy. What does he really do?

Ben's contract negotiation should be really interesting this off season. He's having a disappointing year.

Theosa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Theosa said...

marc,

There are just too many holes to fill and lots of unproven talent in hand that still has to translate into NFL; I don’t think Steelers will get it fixed in the next 2-3 years and Ben will be 35 by then. Forget the recent drafting, the FO free agent signings have also been lame, C. Allen, M. Gilbert, Mitchell etc. and that does not put a lot of faith into a next 2-3 years rebuilding. About OLBs, Worlids has a total of 8 good games in his career and Jones is unproven both performance wise and durability wise. Same could be said about Shazier and Thomas. While defensive struggles were obvious even before the start of the season, the offense aside from first half against Browns and good games against Colts and Ravens has been underwhelming and that too with the 4th ranked QB, 2nd ranked RB, and first ranked WR. There are just too many riddles on this Steelers team

McFadden 41 said...

I find it funny that when Ben plays great is because he's a great QB. But when he plays bad or is inconsistent, it's because of everybody but him. The fact of the matter is that Ben is an inconsistent QB. And his lack of consistency affects the entire team, including the defense. The offense is loaded with talent, so why can't they play at a steady level? Tom Brady and Peyton have made average receivers household names because they demand perfection and they hold themselves to a high level. Ben is busy telling Antonio to slow down and not work so hard.

I don't think Ben is to blame for everything, because that's just silly. But it's absurd that people want Tomlin and Haley and Colbert fired, but Ben is untouchable. That, to me, is a joke.

Anonymous said...

Let me tell you where the joke started. You have a QB who went 13-0 his rookie year because he was a game manager and had a great defense. He goes to the SB his second year and sets a record for worst quarterback rating. After his third year, Cowher retires.

Given that you had a great defense and Lebeau to run it, why wouldn’t you hire a HC with an offensive background to help your QB develop into an elite QB? Granted, he is one of the most efficient QBs in history, but when I hear McNabb diss Ben’s mechanics after 10 years in the league, makes me wonder. When I hear Sanders diss Ben’s work ethic, it makes me wonder. Cowher tried to set him straight by trying to get him to work harder, but Ben responded by saying “we’re winning”.

The mistake was made when somebody failed to sit him down and explain to him that he had a chance to be one of the all time greats if he worked at it. Nevada hotel rooms and Georgia bathrooms won’t get you very far, son.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if anyone pointed this out but getting zero production from the last 2 first round picks can really be seen as the cause for the defenses struggles. They were both top 20 picks and granted no production because of injury but this defense is simply not talented enough to overcome this. Its still debatable what type of production we will get from these players but way to early to tell.

ibygeorge said...

If Rothlisberger stinks up the rest of the season maybe his contract will be affordable. His inconsistencies will become more frequent as he plays to the end of his career which have to be part of negotiations. It would be great if Rothlisberger could retire as a Steeler, a couple more years to build the defense is to his benefit, but if he doesn't get to the SB this year and stinks up more games, he's not a $100 million QB.

Dale Lolley said...

And in Cleveland today, Brian Hoyer said that you don't get lucky and be 7-5 at this point.

As for my comment on winning one of their final five, that included this weekend, genius. For this team to finish 8-8, it would have had to go 1-4 in the final 5. I don't see that happening.

Could they go 9-7? Certainly. This team could go 11-5. It could go 7-9. But I don't think so. I think at the very least, it wins its final two home games.

McFadden 41 said...

I don't think the cupboard is as bare as others. I agree that they need to get a solid corner. But LB isn't a major issue to me. D line would be second to corner. The offensive line has grown together, but of course depth is welcome as they continue to get better. Other than that, i don't see any major, immediate holes that me to be fixed.

As for someone sitting Ben down, i think that's been done over and over. But he doesn't care. It was something I think the organization felt they could live with, but in some respects he's gotten worse. What other qb would complain about an offense or not having a tall receiver after having his best year statistically? If he can just be a real leader, I think this team could go far.

ibygeorge said...

It's time for AB to take over the leadership. He's been open many times in big situations and Rothlisberger forced the ball incomplete elsewhere. All he needs to do is say "Ben throw me the dam ball." Rothlisberger did not follow through with his "must win game" command.

Anonymous said...

Sad that Kiesel was put on IR, but we can always call up Josh Mauro from the practice squad… um, I mean Nick Williams ….er, well, somebody. I’m not saying that either one of them is destined for greatness or will even become starters. But you have to shake your head when watching Cam Thomas not play, why wasn’t one of them on the roster? Just another example of roster management and team building for the future by Tomlin.

Beard, thanks for all your effort throughout the years.

Anonymous said...

Are we in any position to make a splash in the playoff's? Yes I said playoff's....
One moment I think we are hitting our stride and the next I think we are the worst team in the AFC North.

Yes Ben played bad, he has been throwing high for a couple games now, however the receivers need to make a couple of those catches..

Some of the play calling was pretty bad and us not changing the game plan shows that the coaching staff thinks we can turn it on at a moments notice, which isn't going to happen against most teams in the NFL..

Our secondary is horrible!! I'm thinking Troy is more of a liability than contributor.. He is not the safety that he was earlier in his career and needs to stay in his position.. No more freelancing!! We can't get pressure on the QB and every time he runs up to the line (8 out of 10 times) he gets eaten up.. While the ball is getting launched 30 yards down the field..

Now we understand why Adams has been riding the pine.. Bend your knee's big boy and show some strength..

Ike... oh boy, not a good game back..

Why didn't Bell line up to Ben's right when handing the ball off.. I thought for sure he was going to loose the ball the way he was handing off..

Last but not least, Thank you to the diesel for everything.. Hate to see you go out like this..

Zeke

Anonymous said...

The commentators mentioned Ben handing off with his left hand during practice leading up to this game. Did he have a hand injury prior to this game and the hit made it worse?

~SBK

Anonymous said...

^---- I didn't hear that, very interesting..

They did show his throwing hand after he hit it, he was trying to follow the lines on his wrist band. His hand was shaking so bad that it looked like he had Parkinson's

Zeke

Patrick said...

it seems to me that Ben is legit hurt. You just don't go from earth shattering numbers to awful overnight. Something is up.

Nine Fingers said...

Until we lose one more game, I'm going to pretend its 2005 and the sky is falling after we just lost 3 straight games to fall to 7-5 with 4 games remaining.

ibygeorge said...

Must be something he doesn't want to talk about and not enough to keep him from playing. He was listed as probable a couple, few weeks ago and it was never followed through by the media or addressed completely by Tomlin as to what his problem was. Dale, you have any info on this?

Anonymous said...

When has Roethlisberger ever not wanted to talk about an injury? If he's hurt, he'll tell you. And it will probably be near fatal.

Dale Lolley said...

Roethlisberger had a bad game. Period. He's not hurt.

He practices handoffs with both hands all the time.

Is he maybe feeling the bumps and bruises of a full season a little more now than he did at 25? Perhaps.

But that just comes with aging.