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Sunday, December 07, 2014

Post-Cincinnati thoughts

Just as an early Christmas present for you guys, I'm going to continue picking against the Steelers for the remainder of this season.

I thought they had a good chance to win this game - anytime Andy Dalton is the QB of the other team, you've got a chance.

But given their recent play, I just couldn't pick them in this game, on the road.

This team continues to confound everyone.

@ BTW, that's 11 consecutive seasons of eight or more wins for the Steelers. Only New England, with 14, has a longer streak.

And Mike Tomlin has been at the helm for seven of those seasons, making him just the seventh coach in NFL history and fourth with the same team to start his career off in that manner.

But he stinks, right?

Sometimes I just think Steelers fans don't know how good they've really got things. Even in this team's down seasons, it finds a way to stay relevant.

I've covered the Steelers for 21 seasons and have had just a handful of games that were completely meaningless.

Believe me, talking to reporters from other NFL cities, you don't realize how special that really is.

@ It's almost as special as Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown.

@ Bell became the only the second player in NFL history - joining Walter Payton - to gain over 200 yards in three consecutive games.

And he's just 22 years old.

Think about that.

@ Bell has gained 1,925 total yards this season. Two guys he can be readily compared to, Cincinnati's Giovanni Bernard and Green Bay's Eddie Lacy, have combined for 1,903, pending Lacy's game Monday night against Atlanta.

The Steelers didn't have a chance to draft Bernard, but they took a lot of heat for passing on Lacy to take Bell.

@ Kevin Colbert and Tomlin take a lot of heat for their missed draft picks. I get that. But all teams miss on draft picks.

Shouldn't it be noted that they got Bell, whose in the conversation for being the best all-around running back in the league, and Brown, whose in the same conversation at wide receiver, in the second and sixth rounds?

@ The Steelers did not allow a sack and ran for 193 yards Sunday. And yet on Twitter, people were complaining about the play of the offensive line.

@ Dri Archer was inactive Sunday.

It's a little early to call him a bust, something that people are starting to do. Many of those same people were questioning Bell last season when he was struggling at times.

Archer was inactive, by the way, because he doesn't play special teams.

I still think he can be a dynamic player - once the Steelers figure out exactly how to use him.

@ Think Steve McLendon doesn't make a difference on this defensive line?

Throw out a 20-yard run by Andy Dalton on a read-option play the defense completely botched, and the Bengals had 66 yards rushing on 20 carries.

Stephon Tuitt was a big part of that as well.

I've said all along that Tuitt should be playing more. But the people who think the Steelers don't have a true nose tackle in McLendon are underestimating that guy.

@ By beating the Bengals, the Steelers gained an important tiebreaker over the Ravens.

Baltimore already has three division losses, two to Cincinnati, one to Pittsburgh. The Steelers are now 3-2 in the division.

The Steelers are also now 7-3 in the conference, another important tiebreaker.


Todd Gack said...

Great coverage on this blog.

Agreed on Archer, Dale. He looked good early preseason. Need to be creative with that speed. Too soon to label him a bust IMO.

Does Mike Mitchell return next year? I mean...nevermind...too easy.

This offense can be scary good...not sure where the #FireHaley stuff comes from when execution is lacking.

Anonymous said...

Still waiting for some week to week consistency but it's hard to be critical after a big win.

adamg said...

You can see Haley putting his mark on the offense with the running game, screens, draws and play action complimenting the deep passing game. Dri Archer will be the final piece of the puzzle ala Jamal Charles in KC.

I was watching Bell run wild and was wondering where the play action was. And, then, play fake to Bell and 94 yd TD to Bryant.

I like McLendon on the DL. If he's finally being Steve McLendon and not Hampton or Hoke, the Steeler defense will benefit.

Antwan Blake is a good CB. He always seems to be in position to make a play on the ball.

Anonymous said...

There was good execution by the offense, and the defense contributed when it needed too. Random thoughts:

- This team will need to rely on Offense, not the Defense as us Steeler fans are familiar with.

- Ike, thank you for all your contributions, but you need to take a step back. Cincy was targeting you. The double move was only a matter of time coming.

- Mike Mitchell has contributed the least of any safety I've seen on this team. Even RClark in his later years was making downfield tackles. MM is NOWHERE ever near the a free safety is supposed to. Yes there was the one deflection but, he dropped the ball.

- Secondary concerns me next week with ATL's big WRs!!!

- I'm #1 in #43's fan club but, something just ain't happening for him. It's easy to say age, but do you have any thoughts Dale? Is it because of MM or something else?

- #26 & #84 - not much to say just keep it up. We should rely on #26 catching screens all day long. There isn't a LB in the league that can cover him.

- Moats had a nice game and I seemed to see Vince Williams around the ball alot. We could use more pressure.

- Nice showing Tuitt and Cam continues to be in the backfield. It was nice to McClendon and his importance to this team.

- Wheaton is showing why he belongs on the field. Martavis keep it up too.

- The left side runs with Heath in motion and Decastro pulling was fun to watch all day. OL played well today.

- FYI, I looked at ARIZ stat sheet and didn't see any tackles for Mauro. :)

Greg W. said...

On Colbert and Tomlin's hits and misses in the draft: it should also be noted that Bryant was a 4th round draft pick. While most of his story has yet to be written, if he continues on his current trajectory, he and AB are going to be competing for biggest producer at the WR position! Considering what a threat Bell is catching balls out of the backfield, this offense can win shootouts to cover for the shaky secondary.

Go Steelers!

Lance Stalnaker said...

It is clearly time for the young guys to play. I have thought that all year, the kiesel injury is a blessing in disguise. I love the guy, but just like with Ike, Troy, and Harrison...its time.

Blake is better than Ike, how he is getting reps ahead of him is anyone's guess. Tuitt looked solid, it's just time. We need the O to carry us anyway, and it looks like they can do that.

Dale Lolley said...

Ike was being targeted because he was following A.J. Green everywhere. They wanted their most solid tackling corner on Green. You know he's going to get a high volume of looks. But you can't give up the run after the catch. I thought Ike did a solid job in that respect.

Unfortunately, he had no safety help and Ike got beat deep.

Bell followed Decastro through the left side so much he should have just hitched a cart to him.

Anonymous said...

"Sometimes I just think Steelers fans don't know how good they've really got things. Even in this team's down seasons, it finds a way to stay relevant."

you should put that at the top of your website. If anyone knows it it's you. And this is from a 22 year old that's only been watching the team for 14 years

Patrick said...

the problem is we believe (or at least I believe) this team has been more than capable of being better-than-relevant the past 3 seasons.

I think there is a strong argument behind that sentiment.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused ... when did 8 wins become the standard?

Anonymous said...

When you have a franchise QB 3 seasons of mediocre play isn't good enough. This has nothing to do with spoiled fans.

ibygeorge said...

Bell & Brown never seem to disappoint and when Roethlisberger and Haley are on their game, it becomes phenomenal. Roethlisberger must have taken his accuracy pills at half time and promised to go to Haleys barbeque.

adamg said...

IRT the draft, I looked at the "old guard" that's been winnowed from the defense the past 3 years. Smith, Hampton, Hoke, Kiesel, Troy, Ike, Farrior, Harrison all played at least a decade together at a very high level. Porter and Foote weren't far behind. The avg NFL career is what? 4 yrs? If you think about it, that's 2 generations of draft choices who really never had much of a chance to get on the field, let alone become impact players before their contracts were up.

The Steelers made a conscious choice to make one more run at a championship with that group. When it didn't pan out, the Steelers were left to try and rebuild their defense in a hurry.

marc said...

the defense played better than I expected they would and did a good job on the run. they were very good on 3rd down. strange dynamic between last week and this week. they blanket graham and shut him out then this week green goes off but the rest of the receivers are relatively tame.

has Dalton ever won a big game? I'm sure he has, but just doesn't seem like it.

not much to add regarding the offense. how far do you have to go back to find a RB/WR duo like bell and brown for the steelers?

dale, was the injury to cortez allen season ending or did they move him to IR to make room for jones and basically decide allen wasn't going to be playing any meaningful minutes for them the rest of the season? if it's the latter, then what a fall.

well, here we go again. the steelers refuse to lose 2 in a row, which is great. but they only have one win streak this season and will need another to win the division or make the playoffs. question is - which team will show up next week? the one that appears to take a week off or one that is on a mission.

Anonymous said...

Do you think Mike Mitchell would be a good SS if they got a new FS next season?

Polamalu is done after this season right?

Anonymous said...

Somebody needs to check the O line tapes and watch Matt Spaeth's performance. It was pro ball ats its best.

Anonymous said...

Let's have the season play out before we laud Tomlin and Colbert. I don't have to remind everyone here what happens when they play a team like Atlanta. I still think Baltimore has the inside track to win the North. They have Jax this week.They can call the NFL office and phone that one in. They finish with Houston and Cleveland home.

marc said...

btw, did anyone notice pacman jones try to kick heath miller at the end of bell's 15 yard TD scamper? so, in the nfl, if someone throws a punch (or kick) and misses, is it not a penalty?

just wondering.

Theosa said...

McLendon is alright, not bad not spectacular and everyone will look better when you compare him to the other starter at NT i.e. Cam Thomas.

The guy that’s the most underappreciated is Kelvin Beachum, no one writes about him, yet he is graded the 5th best tackle in the NFL. If anyone remembers the recent Steelers history with LT, they’ll sure appreciate his performance, he had a bad game here and there but overall has been a solid LT for past two years, not bad for a 7th round pick.

Dale Lolley said...

I'd say they are more than relevant right now. 8-5 is 8-5, no matter how you get there.

It has everything to do with spoiled fans. This team is firmly in the playoff hunt. Yet I sense little excitement. Is it because they have done it in a non-tradtional (read typical Steelers) fashion?

This team isn't built on defense. It's built around the offense.

Of course, when the QB doesn't play well, that doesn't work. But when he does, they look pretty good.

Try being a Jets fan or Raiders fan, etc.

Yes, I think this is it for Polamalu.

Cortez Allen wasn't going to help them with the thumb injury. Jones was. It was a pretty simple decision.

I still think Baltimore could lose at Houston. That will be a tough game for the Ravens - if Arian Foster plays.

Anonymous said...

Dale, the excitement is muted because they have not been consistent enough for anyone to be confident they can put up a 4 game streak to win the North. And even if they do that horrific defense has to face Manning,Luck, or Steeler nemesis Tom Brady. Who knows what offense will show up? They have shown they can score 40 but have burped up too many road clunkers.

Dale Lolley said...

Manning looks like a shell of himself. That's not going to get any better as the weather gets colder. They've already beaten Luck.

Enjoy the season for what it is. Who knows, they might get a break here or there and actually do something.

Nobody expected anything in 2005, either.

Easley said...

This team's inconsistency breeds a rightful wariness among the fans. It's the old "fool me once..." adage. It's genuinely hard to stay excited when you never know which team is going to show from week to week.

Steve-O said...

I agree the team is inconsistent and the defensive backfield is leaky. That said, they've beaten the Bengals, Ravens, and Colts. It's an indication to me that they have enought talent to make a run. If they can get a little momentum at the end of the season, anything is possible.

Patrick said...

they were in the playoff hunt the last two seasons too and blew a bunch of winnable games. That is the reason the excitement is dulled. Its practically the complete opposite of being spoiled. Its being constantly disappointed. Raiders fans probably aren't as disappointed because they should realize they don't have talent. If the Raiders had a QB capable of playing like Ben, they would be disappointed too

Anyhow, on the 94 yarder, did anyone else notice Bryant hopping around a split second before the ball is snapped? I honestly don't know the exact rules on WR's being set, but it looked extremely close to being a penalty to me.

mv7267 said...

As long as he(Bryant) is not moving forward, simulating the snap or is the only offensive player "in motion" it's all good.

Snarky said...

Count me as spoiled. I to think 8 wins is not enough for a team with a franchise QB.

marc said...

Julio jones couldn't finish last night's game. hopefully he's out against the steelers.

Anonymous Brian said...

I'm with Patrick on "spoiled."