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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Post-Green Bay thoughts

When the Packers drove right down the field on 10 plays for a TD on the opening drive, Twitter started.

"Going to be a long season with this defense," was the general tone.

And then the sacks started coming.

Six in one game. I realize that some of those came in the second half when both teams had plenty of backups in the game, but we saw James Harrison and Cam Heyward almost get there and then Harrison do so for a safety.

Then we saw Jarvis Jones get home. Bud Dupree did so twice - though one was negated by an offside penalty by nose tackle Cam Thomas (how does that happen?). Shamarko Thomas got there on a blitz as well.

The first-team run defense was a little soft - Eddie Lacy averaged 5.0 yards per carry on six attempts - but they were playing a nickel. And without Lawrence Timmons.

That will get better.

But it was nice to see some guys getting home, especially since, as Jones said afterward, Mike Tomlin had challenged them to win some one-on-one battles.

* OK, now we can talk about Maurkice Pouncey and his latest injury, a broken lower left leg.

Much like when he was injured against Tennessee in the opener a couple years back, Pouncey was hurt out on the edge.

Perhaps his mobility is working against him in these situations. The fact that he's able to get out there, while some other centers don't, has added up to a pair of major injuries for the Steelers' Pro Bowl center.

I'm not saying you don't do those things with him any more when he gets back, but both injuries were kind of flukish.

It's a shame, because the line really looked poised for a big year. It really had made some strides in the past year.

Cody Wallace will be fine as a fill-in until Pouncey returns - sometime in November, I'm estimating.

The problem arises for his backup spot. Chris Hubbard struggled Sunday at center against the Packers. Rookie B.J. Finney might have found a roster spot because of those two things.

* The Steelers dodged a bullet with Stephon Tuitt. Tomlin said Tuitt has an ordinary ankle sprain. That means he could be back for the preseason finale or the regular season opener.

That also means the Steelers will continue their auditions at defensive end.

I wrote it prior to this game and I'll write it again - the team's No. 3 defensive end might still be on someone else's roster.

Why do I say that? I think this team is poised as a Super Bowl contender. And if that's the case, you can't allow an injury to Tuitt or Heyward to derail your season.

* I thought Thomas showed up and had a solid game at strong safety, which is something I needed to see to feel a little better about his prospects moving forward.

But I'm a little curious as to why the team didn't give Thomas and Mike Mitchell more time together in this one.

Mitchell was out of there pretty quickly.

* Pouncey has a nasty streak that kind of sets the tone for the rest of the offensive line. But Wallace has that as well. Did you see him busting downfield on a screen soon after entering the game to crush a linebacker?


* I hate to say it, but the injury to Pouncey is one the Steelers can better deal with than one to, say, Kelvin Beachum.

First, they've already played a season without Pouncey. Second, they don't have a healthy reserve offensive tackle right now who has ever taken a snap in the NFL, let alone at left tackle.

* It was good to see Garrett Hartley force a couple of touchbacks. That had been a concern.

* Imagine how Tyler Murphy would look at wide receiver had he not spent most of training camp at quarterback.

Maybe they should line Sammie Coates up at QB for a while.


adamg said...

Hate to see Pouncey hurt again on a fluke play, but a broken bone is probably better than ligament/tendon damage.

Really liked the defense after Berry backed them up at their 1. That was 1s vs 1s and they got a ton of pressure on Rogers for the safety.

Anonymous Brian said...

I hate preseason. I say no need for James Harrison to play the rest of preseason, by the way, after the safety and the pressure the play before that. He's ready.

Also I can't stand the new PAT. 15-11. 9-8. What kinds of scores are those? Now instead of going to get more pretzels during extra points, I have to sit there and do math. What a ridiculous gimmick. It's not analogous to, say, the 3-point shot or shot clock in basketball.

If they want to make extra points less boring - they're still boring, by the way - they could just have special teams launch cheerleaders through rotating goalposts which have been set on fire using a catapult. Next I predict they'll change overtime to some sort of game of H-O-R-S-E like in unwatchable college overtimes.

Bring back 17-10, 10-7, etc. Please.

Anonymous said...

Pouncey's ACL tear was hardly on the edge. He was about 3 yards from where he snapped the ball.

Colin A said...

Hey Dale, been reading your stuff for a few years now. You've always got great thoughts and I appreciate your analysis. I was wondering what your take on Correz Allen is. He was a lightning rod last year, and rightfully so. One of the most intiguing storylines of this preseason to me is finding out who is the real Cortez Allen... The promising young playmaker signed to an extension after 2013 or the flop who got benched in 2014. I have not even noticed him once this entire preseason in all the practice reports I've read. He's hardly gotten any coverage on and they've covered almost everyone by now it seems. Even through 3 preseason games I'm struggling to remember any plays he's been involved in (which might mean some improvement from last year).

What do you think? How has he looked in practice? What's he feeling around the team about Cortez?

ibygeorge said...

Does WR Murphy have a shot at making the roster? Does he have enough NFL QB skills? Jones is looking better, but Gradkowski is looking fragile. The team seems to like these versatile players. He sure looked good hauling in that TD.

ibygeorge said...

Does WR Murphy have a shot at making the roster? Does he have enough NFL QB skills? Jones is looking better, but Gradkowski is looking fragile. The team seems to like these versatile players. He sure looked good hauling in that TD.

Qwikdoc said...

Nice spin Tomlin put on Tuitt's injury. "just an ordinary ankle sprain". It was not ordinary. An ordinary sprain is a lateral sprain. Tuitt suffered a medial sprain, the same as Pouncey. I will be surprised if he's back on the field in 2 to 3 weeks. A medial sprain is much more serious. If Pouncey broke a bone, he almost certainly has ligament damage as well which is why they would be considering surgery. I feel bad for him. Having players roll up on your legs must be a lineman's worst fear.

adamg said...

It's not a clean break, thus the surgery. Otherwise the bone would have just been set/cast.

Dale Lolley said...

Pouncey acl was on the move in the zone blocking scheme and was certainly more than 3 yards from where he snapped it.

Murphy doesn't have the skills to be anything more than a gaget qb. Not accurate at all as a passer. Obvious run and catch ability. But I don't see him making the 53. Not a special teams factor at all.

They have surgery to insert a plate, which helps the bone heal more quickly. Not saying there isn't ligament damage but that isn't why there is necessarily surgery. They almost always insert a plate on a broken bone.

I think Cortez will be fine. His trouble has always been transitioning from man to the ball. Doesn't have to do that as much in pure zone coverages

Marc said...

don't expect pouncey back until November at the earliest. tuitt probably a solid 4 weeks. it's a shame, but it's football and why you need depth.

I think the steelers are pretty well equipped to handle pouncey's loss. I've always thought he was a good center, but not a perennial pro bowler like many believe.

tuitt's injury will give other guys much needed reps. nothing wrong with that. hopefully he won't miss more than 1 regular season game.

pouncey's injury does bring up a good question. why don't the steelers' linemen wear braces for preventative measures. I see other teams where their whole line has braces on both legs. I realize it probably wouldn't have helped in this case, but just made me wonder about it again.

DD said...

I know good lineman don't grow on trees, but how in the world is this team so lopsided/stacked at WR and ILB and nothing at D-line or O-line??? Poor planning or simply the way the cards fell?

Anonymous said...

Well, he was almost halfway to the numbers when he got hit. Maybe 4 yards? He'd taken about 5 steps, but they weren't full-running steps, they were engaged-in-a-block steps.

Qwikdoc said...

@DD - Give Munchak time. He'll develop some depth.

Geoff Jarocki said...

Bell gained 5 yards on the play Pouncey was hurt.

datruth4life said...

Dale, Josh Mauro and Nick Williams are both being projected as cuts for the final 53 for the Cardinals and Chiefs. In fact, I saw the end of the Chiefs game the other night where Williams was playing for the chiefs at the end of the 4th quarter (not a good look for a player trying to make the final 53). Another team I'm looking at for DL on cutdown day is the Buffalo Bills. Corbin Bryant, another former Steeler, moved on to the Bills and has done well.

Dale, who are your suggested players at OL that might be available at the final cutdown date? And has Chickillo done enough to stick?

Zeke R said...

I guess we got an old face back on the o-line...

Dale Lolley said...

Wait, Truth, I thought Mauro was the second coming of L.C. Greenwood and Nick Williams was the next Aaron Smith.

They would be in the mix, but if I'm running this team, I'm looking for a more experienced guy who can play 4-3 or 3-4. I realize you're not going to get another Heyward or Tuitt on the waiver wire, but I'm at least exploring all the options, not just signing one of my old guys back.

William Smith Jr. said...
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