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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Post-Buffalo thoughts

That was a defensive performance worthy of a team that was missing three key starters - Stephon Tuitt, Lawrence Timmons and Mike Mitchell - up the middle.

That's right where the Bills gashed the Steelers on the first two drives - when the "rest" of the starters were out there.

Rookie L.T. Walton got the start for Tuitt and got completely blown out on Fred Jackson's 41-yard run on Buffalo's first play from scrimmage.

That helped allow Ryan Shazier to get engulfed as well, and then it was off to the races for Jackson in the Steelers secondary, where Mitchell's speed might have been a factor in getting him on the ground after, say, a 20-yard gain.

On the next possession, Vince Williams didn't get nearly the depth he needed in his zone against tight end Charles Clay, who turned in a 67-yard TD.

Williams, of course, was starting in place of Timmons.

Do we give the defense a pass for that? Nope.

We haven't seen much of the first-team defense on the field in training camp or the preseason. And that, in itself, is a problem.

But Tuitt, Mitchell and Timmons should be ready to go for the start of the regular season.

* Mike Tomlin was ticked that many of the backups, who played from about the second series on, looked completely overmatched and didn't put up a lot of fight.

That is disturbing, especially with cutdowns looming.

I know it's not been the Steelers' MO over the years, but they should be scouring the waiver wire looking for depth in the next week.

They could use a defensive end who is ready to play - I'd keep a close eye on Buffalo, where Alex Carrington and Red Bryant are both far down the depth charts - for sure.

And now placekicker is again a problem after Garrett Hartley pulled his hamstring on a kickoff.

* Jordan Berry did a credible job kicking off and probably won the punting job with a 58.3 average on his four kicks.

Included in that was a 78-yarder out of his own end zone. That's putting the exclamation point on a day.

* Maybe Michael Vick has more in the tank than I gave him credit for.

* DeAngelo Williams has flashed enough to tell me the Steelers will be fine without LeVeon Bell for two games.

And Darrius Heyward-Bey is a credible enough deep threat to still get the attention of opposing defenses - dude had nearly 1,000 yards receiving for the Raiders a couple of years ago, after all.

But Cody Wallace is going to have to be better than he was in this one if he wants to be the long-term replacement for Maurkice Pouncey.

Corbin Bryant looked like a guy who had something to prove Saturday playing against the team that drafted and released him, but you can't allow him to get to Ben Roethlisberger right out of the gate on the opening series. That's a tone setter.

* Jordan Dangerfield is limited in coverage, but boy does he like to hit people - hard.

I know that's not allowed in today's NFL, but his physical presence and the way he plays reminds me of a young James Harrison.

Like Harrison, the Steelers have cut Dangerfield loose a couple of times, as well.

* Yes, the Bills' QBs picked the Steelers' defense apart. But if Brandon Boykin holds onto what should have been one of the easiest interceptions in his career, he walks into the end zone.

And the entire first half has a much different feel to it.

The dropped interception came after the Steelers had forced Buffalo to punt following its third possession.

A quick score there would have possibly stemmed the tide.

As it was, it was one of just two incompletions the Buffalo quarterbacks threw in the first half and one of three in the game.


Anonymous said...

Do not forget the Bills did not dress their top 4 WRs

If Brady plays week 1, I fully expect to give up 40+

adamg said...

Even in the Steelers' defensive heyday in the 70's, opposing qbs were able to routinely complete passes in the seams of the zone. I can remember Bob Trumpy, Milt Morin and other TEs catching passes left and right against the Steelers. It's something that comes with the territory of the cover 2 Butler is bringing to the defense. Add to it, the prospective starting safeties haven't played much in preseason and even less together and Butler has rarely dialed up a blitz, there are going to problems in pass coverage.

There must be more to the Bryant story just based on Tomlin's refusal to comment on it post-game. Reportedly the NFL only tests for marijuana from Apr 20-Aug 9th. The new drug policy went into effect in Sept/Oct 2014. Bryant was drafted in May 2014. If he was tested during that window in 2014 and failed, he would have fallen under the old policy since the new policy didn't take effect until after the testing period. If he was tested under the new policy and the same time frame, he'd have had to fail 3xs in 4 months. I suspect, like Bell, he's been caught between two different policies.

An said...

Defense looked terrible in preseason week 3 vs. Philly last year. By the end of the year, they were not bad. Big pass rush v. Chiefs to clinch playoffs, William Gay's pick-sixes being the difference in two road games decided by three and seven points, respectively, etc.

During the 4-0 run to get to the playoffs last year, the defense performed as well as the offense.

I hope they have the discipline to keep Harrison to his snap count. Despite how he looks (nothing special yesterday, just in general I mean), he is 38.

Anonymous Brian said...

One more worry.

Dale, please do not report the words "Timmons," "toe," and "MRI" in the same sentence anytime soon. What's the deal with his toe?

ibygeorge said...

The Buffalo TV announcers were ripping the Buffalo QBs the whole game until toward the end of the game when the QBs were something like 30 for 33. They said well maybe any of these QBs could be a starter or is the Steelers just this bad.

ibygeorge said...

The Buffalo TV announcers were ripping the Buffalo QBs the whole game until toward the end of the game when the QBs were something like 30 for 33. They said well maybe any of these QBs could be a starter or is the Steelers just this bad.

Anonymous said...

That small offseason window for recreational drug testing is just for players who have never before tested positive. But once you've tested positive, you can be randomly tested year round, and multiple times.

Easley said...

You know it's a bad day when even one of the lone highlights is a source of frustration. Seeing Bryant shredding the defense and looking every bit like a young Randy Moss, and knowing that he won't be available for a quarter of the season due to apparent self-control issues, is just infuriating.

adamg said...

That's true about the drug testing, but Bryant could only have been tested by the NFL in 1 of 2 windows, the Apr-Aug 2014 or Apr-Aug 2015. If he was tested in 2014, it was under the old rules. He could be randomly tested, but he's still one foot in, one foot out as far as the policy is concerned.

Emac2 said...

I think you absolutely give the defense a pass. This isn't about grading units or winning games. It's about learning how much you can get out of young players and not getting hurt.

That doesn't mean we skip looking at making moves on both lines but stressing about units not playing well is alarmist and counterproductive.

The team needs change and this is part of that process. Just like defensivebacks that are chosen for special teams play or number of years they have contributed to a really bad pass defense.

Dale Lolley said...

Would giving up 40 to Brady be any different than any other year?

They are giving Timmons as much time to get as close to 100 percent as they can. That's all. Nobody in the organization is overly concerned with his toe. And he's walking around fine.

As for Tomlin not commenting on the possible suspension, that's because the league hasn't announced it. Somebody in the league office leaked it to Schefter, but the league hasn't made an official announcement. It is team policy not to talk about it until it becomes official. They can't respond to every media report that comes out. That is understandable. What if the report - and I don't have any reason to believe this since Bryant kind of commented on it - is false? Then you have responded to a false report.

Anonymous said...

Moats should be calling Carrinton and telling him how well he's having it in Pittsburgh. He'd be real nice depth

Anonymous said...

Not that it's a big deal, but the Steelers didn't draft Corbin Bryant. He was undrafted out of Northwestern.

marc said...

"If" and "maybe" are used when things don't go we'll. Three different qb's without their starting wr's shredded the defense. That's poor football.

Steve-O said...

I watched the game and saw some nice flashes of Ethan Hemer. I don't really know anything about the kid but he looked like he had a lot of hustle to the ball and hit hard. Is he a practice squad candidate or did I just see a kid who looked good because everyone else looked so bad?

Eric MacLaurin said...

If Vick plays great next week and looks like he is a legit starting qb what would you prefer?

1. Solid insurance for Ben but never sees the field.

2. A few snaps a game to force opponents to have to prep for him as qb.

3. Traded to a team in need of a qb after he plays well next week.

I understand the hesitation teams had signing him but there are a few teams that might only make the playoffs with a better qb. If he convinces one of them he can do it I would guess he'd fetch a nice return. I know he was a FA but if he dominates the next preseason game sentiment and fan pressure in places like Cleveland or buffalo could change... Quickly.

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