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Friday, September 11, 2015

Post-Patriots thoughts

Mike Tomlin was very upset that his team's coaching headsets were picking up only the Patriots' radio broadcast in the first half of Thursday night's game.

In fact, Tomlin said it's something that seems to happen in New England every time the Steelers play here.

The Steelers asked the league to look into the situation and NFL Vice President of Communications Michael Signora released a statement following the game.

"In the first quarter of tonight's game, the Pittsburgh coaches experienced interference in their headsets caused by a stadium power infrastructure issue, which was exacerbated by the inclement weather. The coaches' communications equipment, including the headsets, is provided by the NFL for both clubs' use on game day. Once the power issue was addressed, the equipment functioned properly with no additional issues."

So there's that.

* The Steelers did have some communication problems in this game - at least from a coaching standpoint.

On Tom Brady's first TD pass to Rob Gronkowski, the Steelers had just 10 defenders on the field.

* Tomlin when asked if he has any concerns about placekicker Josh Scobee said he has none.

That's fine. Kickers aren't going to be perfect.

But those six points the Steelers left out there were costly.

Then again, so were the two touchdowns the team missed - one when Roethlisberger threw late to Darrius Heyward-Bey in the end zone and Heyward-Bey stepped out of bounds as he went to the ground, the other when left tackle Kelvin Beachum false started inside the 1-yard line on third and goal.

Score a TD in either situation and it's a different game.

Actually, when the Steelers scored to make it 21-11, had they scored on the Heyward-Bey play and made both field goals, it would have been tied at 21-21.

* I don't understand the teeth gnashing over the defense in this one. That was Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski the Steelers were playing against.

And the defense gave up 28 points. This was a game in which many people were saying they expected the Patriots to hang 50 on this defense.

Yes, Brady completed 19 passes in a row at one point, but most were short passes. And they actually sacked him twice and got decent pressure considering he was getting the ball out quickly.

There were some positive signs there.

* The Steelers' offensive line really dominated the line of scrimmage against the Patriots. DeAngelo Williams averaged 6.0 yards per carry and really only got stuffed a couple of times as he had 127 yards on 21 attempts.

That bodes well for things down the road.

* The Steelers could have done a better job on Gronkowski but that's why that guy is who he is.

Put a defensive back on him and he's going to win the physical battle. Put a linebacker on him and he's going to use his speed and agility to get free.

We saw all of that in this one.

Gronkowski's a hall-of-fame talent. And the Steelers got burned by him.

* The defending Super Bowl champions are now 10-0 when they open the season at home on a Thursday night.

That's no fluke.

But I thought the Steelers represented themselves well. They left some plays on the field that could have changed the outcome of this game. They dominated the line of scrimmage. They were a couple of plays here or there from having a chance to win.

And I think that will help this team, especially defensively, with its confidence.

As Antonio Brown said to some Patriots fans as he walked to the team bus, "We'll see you again."

He meant it.

Yes, this was a loss. But the Patriots didn't simply outclass the Steelers, as they did back in 2013, when they beat them 55-31.

This was a bit of a dogfight. And that bodes well for the Steelers the rest of the way.

They won't play in too many situations where the environment will be more hostile. They won't face many quarterbacks or receivers who are better. And they held their own.

They were beaten, yes, but they weren't embarrassed.

* One of the big questions for fans was why Brandon Boykin didn't play in the defense. Quite frankly, they felt Antwon Blake has outplayed Boykin to this point.

That doesn't mean Boykin won't be out there at some point, but remember, he's still only been with the team a month.


Anonymous said...

I felt the same way, Dale. If Bryant plays in this game, I think we win it. Meet us at full strength in January, with Bell and Pouncey back, and a year under the defense in this new scheme, and this game is a W for the Steelers.

I think this loss bodes as well for our future as any opening day loss could.
It also removed a bit of the stink left by the preseason for me.

I think signs are pointing up for our team, if we can play a game this close against the defending super bowl champs.

Also as an aside we lost while they were likely cheating with radio blockade. Signal interference has been an ongoing problem at Foxboro, reported by multiple teams for years when they visit the Patriots. My question is, if it is not cheating, then why haven't they fixed the problem sooner. I've never heard of this problem at any other stadium.

A bigger question is why does a team that is so good feel the need to systemically use the rules to their own advantage? Why do they need to push the boundaries of good sportsmanship? They would still have won many games without cheating.

I guess it is the same reason Nixon felt the need to spy on his political opponents; paranoia and feeling ordained to be the greatest. Anything they do to cheat or bend rules just serves this higher purpose. Narcissism is not just a river in Egypt. Oh sorry that is DeNile.

Mrs. Isaac Redman

Anonymous said...

Man if I'm Boykin I'm pissed. No way he resigns after this year. Wrote that flattering column in the Players Tribune then gets totally looked over. Probably won't play next week either to not even give him a look is startling. Felt like I was watching the same play over and over watching Edelman work Blake, and this is coming from a big Blake fan..

Tim said...

The defense didn't embarrass itself with poor play, like many expected, but they embarrassed themselves with the inability to line up and keep a defender assigned to each receiver. God, a single receiver trots in motion, and you'd think we'd never seen that before. Receivers running free, a confused back 7, not enough players on the field... Fixable problems, yes, problems better than a simple lack of talent, yes, but more embarrassing and more frustrating to watch if you ask me. This was simply poor work from the coaches and several defensive players.

The coaches picked up right where they left off on offense, managing the clock and hoarding timeouts as if they get to cash them in at the end of the season like vacation time.

Some might say "It's week 1" as a defense, but to me that makes it even worse. How do you not know what to do when a guy goes in motion? How do you sit on 2 timeouts with the clock running, then use one after the clock has already stopped? Being this poorly prepared for the first game is like getting a delay of game coming out of a timeout. Forget the missed tackles and field goals. We beat ourselves in a game we would have won if we'd had our heads screwed on straight.

Anonymous said...

Antonio told pats fans we'll see you again?? That means he doesn't think the steelers can get homefield advantage over the patriots :p

great analysis dale. All in all, barring Spence's injury, I like there was no major injury in this one! Would have been a hard win to pull of and we were oh so close yet so distant. Time to smash the 49ers, D Will can!

adamg said...

Dale, I thought the rule was if one team's headsets don't work, the other team also has to do without them. Did that happen? Anyway, it's really long past time that the founding families of the NFL (Rooneys, Maras, Halas/McCaskeys)step up and stop the non-sense in NE.

Otherwise, I agree with your take. They do need to keep working on fixing the DL and adding depth, which would solve most of their coverage problems. But otherwise, the defense only gave up 4 scores. The Steeler offense had the same number of chances but were 1 for 3 FGs instead of TDs. The turning point was the option pass call that failed and threw the whole offense off track.
Hopefully Haley learns from that.

While everyone focuses on Gronkowski, A Brown had just as big a game despite being double or triple covered and still made plays.

The OL was outstanding. BR mostly had all day to throw and they were running at will. Williams showed he still has gas in the tank. He should be a good compliment to Bell.

John Kang said...

Our defense really needs work, and it blows my mind we left Blake instead of Boykin out there on Edelman-- really, it's not Gronk that kills us (OK, yes, it is), but Edelman (i.e., Welker 2.0) who keeps the Pats' offensive machine lubed and and oiled.

That said, the offense moved the ball well. Belichik's strategy is to take away your best weapon, and I would guess the game plan was to stop AB. It opened up everything for Williams (saw it coming, but NOT like tha!), and AB wasn't stopped. Yeah, with Bryant and Bell, I don't think anyone can stop us, and our Red Zone woes will improve. I have high hopes that the offense will carry us until the defense finds its feet.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much of Brandon Boykin's playing time will be limited by the desire to not give up a 4th round pick.

ibygeorge said...

I agree Dale. To me it looks similar to the unprepared team of last year. I hope this season ends at least like last year. With the tougher schedule this season, it would make them playoff ready.
Red zone scoring looks to be a work in progresss solution.

Anonymous said...
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William Smith Jr. said...

The biggest problem we have on our offense is Ben not being as detailed as other QB's. He struggles in the red zone every year. Good Qb but we cant win the big game with him not finishing drives. Brady left no points on the field.

Anonymous said...

Truth is, we won't see that team again. The Steelers have always been built to compete and win in the North. These match ups with the Patriots exploit the weaknesses of the defense that is trying to take away the long ball and running game.

If I'm the Bills, Jets or (even more) the Dolphins, I'm chopping at the bit to get a shot at both of the Patriots lines. The loss of Easley to what appeared to be a serious hip injury was the one scratch on defense they are least able to assimilate. The Patriots' rivals are built to crush the pocket and hammer receivers early. The Patriots had everything they could have possibly asked for last night and still were nail biting.

The decision to go with low talent CBs and non-threatening WRs will be the nail in the Patriots coffin this season, I think. QBs Brady's age often don't decide to retire, a guy like Suh makes the decision for them.

The Steelers won't see the Patriots again...the AFC East will make sure of that.

Anonymous said...

league provided communication equipment - same problem every year in N.E. - not many problems anywhere else...hmmm. nfl will never change.

if the OL blocks like that all year, then bell will rush for 2000 yards in 14 games. they were great. williams ran well. very encouraged with the offense.

collinsworth was wrong near the end of the game when he said steelers didn't miss bell (because williams ran well). only 1 pass completed to a RB in this game. totally different dynamic and much more valuable in the red zone. it is a huge difference for the offense without bell.

very disappointed in DL. didn't exploit the rookies at all. thought the LB'ers played very well. nice to see dupree out there. also saw jarvis actually standup the LT!! secondary is lost, discombobulated. makes you wonder how much leadership #43 provided on the field.

finally, brady attempted 32 passes and the defense had 1 PD (pass defended) - and that was timmons. sigh...

Anonymous Brian said...

It's only week one, the Pats have the Steelers' number, so it could have been a lot worse.

The two-minute warning clock stuff at the end of the game matters because it's part of a longstanding pattern across coordinators.

Also a pattern - the offense looks really good but scores 13 (OK, 14) points until garbage time. Yards not adding up to points. Red-zone mess. Bryant will hopefully be the difference. This is the year the offense SHOULD carry the team. No more excuses.

Roethlisberger had as much time, as many weapons, and more of a running game than Brady did last night.

Really not much to say about the defense other than I still agree with Dale that they'll be OK as the year goes on. I hope. Looked, at times, un-coached in the secondary.

That trick play call early on was a real killer, true.

adamg said...

The NFL is now built for qbs to complete passes. At one point in the first half, there were 29 passes thrown by both qbs and only 4 incompletions, 2 by each qb.

I know McCullers is still a work in progress, but why not at least put him at NT with the simple of assignment of just getting his hands on the center and driving him backwards?

As for the headset problems, it was a ridiculous statement from the league. I noticed the headsets were Bose, probably the top brand or headphones and receivers around. I'd be interested to hear what their engineers think happened. But the cheating won't stop in NE until original owners like Rooney and Mara get Kraft in a room and tell him either he puts a stop to it or the franchise will stripped of its wins/championships and he'll be forced to sell the team. This won't be a CBA issue subject to a lawsuit. It will be owners policing their own. I'd think the other 31 owners must have had it with Kraft by now.

Anonymous said...

C'mon Dale. THAT was horrendous team defense! Not one pass defensed! Patriots players WIDE open all night long. Uncovered superstars! ...

One team was ill-prepared to win it ... but won it anyways. The OTHER team was ill-prepared to win it ... and PROVED that case all night long! ...

We forget that Brady and Company weren't at THEIR best either, yet we act like and write about it being the case ... "* I don't understand the teeth gnashing over the defense in this one. That was Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski the Steelers were playing against." ... With and asterisk even! ... Cut me a freakin' break! ...

How about writing with real viable Steelers passion for a change? THAT wasn't remotely a fine tuned Tom Brady offense last night, and the Steelers defense failed to show up and punch them in the face! Utterly passionless effort by the Steelers and utterly passionless synopsis of what we actually witnessed as fans! Disgraceful !!!

Anonymous said...

10 exclamation marks above. must be a record.

adamg said...

Steeler receivers were wide open, too, all game. Face it, the NFL has put many restrictions on defenders to make that happen. It's what they want, pass, pass, pass.

Anonymous said...

interesting to read what labriola had to say/report. it's not clear if that is the team's direct stance or not, to me anyways.

mind you, i live near cleveland, so co-worker here was just fine with the outcome of the game. but he also had a great idea. nfl should impose a points system against teams for violations of rules/ethics. as the points add up, penalties come around. and they are cumulative over a 5 year period. for example, patriots get points for headset problems last night. don't like it, then fix the problem. it would help with all the little bull crap that goes on with the patriots.

dale, did timmons toe seem to slow him down at all?

Easley said...

Well, not as bad as I expected. Definitely some very positive signs on offense. Williams was a great pickup, the line did a mostly fantastic job, and AB is AB. Once Cheech and Chong return, that unit should really be something.

On defense, Jarvis had some encouraging moments, Shazier flashed a few times... that's all I've got. Unfortunately, the secondary is who we thought they were. There's very little talent there, and when you compound that with confusion among the players and coaches, you get inexplicable results like Gronkowski repeatedly left wide open in the seam.

The poor talent in the secondary is a direct result of neglect and terrible drafting by the front office. Setting aside Shamarko (bench) and Cortez (bust?) for a moment, over the last 10 years, the Steelers have drafted only 3 defensive backs that have had any kind of NFL career to speak of: Ryan Mundy, William Gay and Keenan Lewis. And of course the best of those now plays in New Orleans.

So it's no mystery why we're in this position and will be for the foreseeable future. A better rush would help mask this weakness, at least against lesser quarterbacks, so let's hope that improves. The push up the middle last night wasn't good enough.

Also, I imagine Dion Lewis is what Dri Archer is supposed to be, but isn't.

Anonymous said...

"Also, I imagine Dion Lewis is what Dri Archer is supposed to be, but isn't"

great quote.

SS said...

Only 28? They took their foot off the gas. Gronk could have had 2 more TD's easily. Our Defense is putrid. Period. When your best player is 38....problems all over. And holy hell is tomlin an awful time management coach. Laughing stock really. Just completely inept. No losing season since he's been coach. Wait til Ben is gone. Sniffing top 5 pick each r. Yet another slow start. They lose to SF next week and they are in serious trouble. Big time.

Anonymous said...

My question is: Is Edelman impossible to bump on the line. I mean, they were giving Brady a quick release, pitch and catch with Edelman or whoever else, thereby nullifying any rush at all against rookie defensive linemen. As just a fan, is there something I am missing here?

Anonymous said...

Boykin is supposedly the 3rd rated slot cover corner in the game but you sit him to let Edelman run wild? Nice game plan that was. I am tired of this team getting outcoached and outplayed.

adamg said...

That's why coaches set receivers off the line or send them in motion, so they can't be blocked/bumped/impeded.

Butler and Tomlin are moving the defense to a 4-3, cover 2 zone just like it was under Noll. Tomlin learned it from Dungy who played it under Noll. In that defense, TEs exploit the seams. Back then, TEs like Bob Trumpy and Milt Morin were always open, caught passes and routinely torched the Steelers secondary.

On the continued cheating, I do think it's significant both Rooneys were at the game to watch first hand and that they filed a complaint with the league over the headset malfunction. Maybe that's a signal to the rest of the owners not named Kraft.

Anonymous said...

My good & bad, and some commentary:

- Overall offense looked good! DWill should be able to keep some thread on LBell throughout the year.
- OLine did keep Ben upright which is a good thing.
- AB is AB and will continue to do all year.
- DHB has to know where he is on the field (costly error).
- Playcalling at times was horrendous. I didn't like the gadget play after gashing them early. Could have sent a statement.
- No TD from 1 was huge. I like the FB smashmouth but, DWill is getting 6 yards a pop - why not give him 3 shots. Why do we need to send a whole crew from the 1?
- I'm not ready to give up on Scooby Doo. He's kicked in Jville and has never had to kick under pressure in such a spotlight game. Let's give him a mulligan for week #1. It was really nice not seeing kickoffs being returned!

- Defense was painful to watch! I've never seen so many guys running around not knowing who they are supposed to watch. The BUF preseason game showed us alot!
- LBs made some plays and showed promise.
- Very little rush on 3 rookie linemen is an area of concern.
- Letting a RB who hasn't played in 2 years look like a pro bowler - not good!
- No one has been able to slow Brady for years but, we have seen this same nightmare for
years - can we not find answer, maybe something out of the box....

? I'm not at practice every day but, what do they see in Dri Archer? Is he dominating and doing things at practice that are just off the chart? I've seen nothing in games to show me otherwise. I don't care about the 3rd round pick - we have UDFAs making the team so it evens out. If he's not gonna produce or even get playing time, use that roster spot.

? I'm tired of hearing Tampa2, Cover2, blah blah blah - what happened to you cover X, you cover Y, etc. They break the huddle and you pick up your man. These schemes are so complicated that players spend too much time thinking instead of just playing football. This doesn't have to be that complicated. Sorry to sound so simple but, it's run, catch, throw, punt, and kick.

Anonymous Brian said...

Maybe Archer gets cut when Bell gets back? Seriously, if they're afraid to use him on offense, he can't field punts (two muffs in preseason), has done nothing returning kickoffs (many of which will be touchbacks anyway)... what is the point?

Dale Lolley said...

When have the Patriots ever "taken" their foot off the gas? This is the team that scored 28 points IN THE FOURTH QUARTER on the Steelers two years ago. Give me a break.

Blake did nothing to lose his job in the preseason - and Boykin did nothing to take it - and they like Gay in the slot. Maybe that changes going forward, but it didn't last night.'

It's one game. A game in which the champs are 10-0 in. The Steelers very easily could have won it. Sorry, that's my analysis. The sky is not falling. You don't like it? Oh well.

Anonymous said...

Well Said Dale. Deep down We ALL knew they would lose this game. Some people are just a bunch of over reactors. Its a Long season...Enjoy the Ride!

Anonymous said...

i'm curious as to who the leader of the secondary is right now? who do they all look up to?

also, why don't DB's "switch" on the pick plays? all teams run them and they are almost impossible to stop if each DB sticks with his guy.

way early, but i expect the steelers to sign a FA corner in the offseason. they really don't have a choice.

Unknown said...

LOL.. Some of the comments crack me up.

If the trick play works, as it has in the past it would of been the best play called all night.. I do agree that AB should have known to throw the ball away and not take an 8 yard loss..

A couple plays along with the field goals and everyone would be singing a different tune today.

Lake and Butler need to get together and figure out who they are going to keep on the field, Boldin is coming to town..

Living in NorCal, I don't want to fall to the 9ers..

Dale Lolley said...

The defensive backs and defense in general were on the field together so little in the preseason, it made evaluating things difficult. So they mixed and matched.

They wanted Golden out there because, as a former CB, he has good coverage skills. They went with Blake over Boykin, in my opinion, because he's been here longer and has better knowledge of the calls.

NE gets plays off very quickly. It's what they do. And facing that right out of the gate is a tall task. As we saw, there were still communication issues because of that. That's why the Patriots do that. They trust Brady to get everyone lined up and run the next play quickly, before the defense has a chance to set itself. Had the Steelers faced Garoppolo, that wouldn't have been the case.

Does every unit need a leader? Just wondering. But Gay and Mitchell are the guys.

Anonymous said...

I don't think every unit needs a defined leader, but you would hope someone fills that role naturally.

Anonymous said...

You're there every day Dale. Stop being such a softee and give us the real meat and potatoes.

"Gronkowski's a hall-of-fame talent. And the Steelers got burned by him."

Cut us a break already!

Tim Tebow IS NOT a hall-of-fame talent, and the Steelers got burned by HIM too!

Half the problem with the Steelers today is a reluctant, cushy, insider press corp that fluffs it up real nice and pretty for us diehards!

Anonymous said...

Worst part about this game was the sloppiness; and by that I mean the Heyward-Bey TD fuckup, the missed FGs (especially if it was the holders fault), the early trick-play (more the 8 yard loss than anything), the Pass Interference to the 1 yardline, and the Defense forgetting to cover Gronk NUMEROUS times. You're going to have mistakes in a team game like football but this was a sloppy as shit game.

Everyone saying Pitt will beat NE by the end of the year is assuming the Steelers will improve but is also assuming NE is already at full strength. It was the first game for BOTH teams and BOTH will improve throughout the season (unless crushed by injury).

Anonymous said...


Any chance the Steelers sign a veteran give that after the first game, the vets are no longer guaranteed their full salary if released and the Steelers have a jump on the other 30 teams?

emac2 said...

This wasn't on the defense. The offense needs to come to play and just like previous years Ben doesn't show up until the other team goes into prevent defense. An elite QB that can't get you any points on his own in a half playing against that defense isn't really elite.

Blake shouldn't be starting. I didn't watch the green bay game but the box showed blake getting beaten all the way down the field and I don't think it's ever looked much different in games I've watched.

Ben needs to figure out the red zone stuff or the Steelers need to develop Vick for the short end of the field. The line sucks for not being able score on a first and goal from the 1 but if Ben can't lead the team to success in the red zone we have to stop expecting it to change. No touchdowns in a half is OK given the defense they played? Does he really need the 3 best offensive players in the league to score in the NFL?

William Smith Jr. said...
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William Smith Jr. said...

Emac i agree if you go back to the playoff game last year against baltimore its the same stuff. Bens issues in part of the field between the 30-50 in a opponents side of field are obvious. Why does Ben need so much when other qb do more with less. Dont get me wrong Ben is the reason we are competitive however to call him Elite or say he is better than Brady is not true. You have to score touchdowns when it matters

datruth4life said...

Dale, the secondary is clearly the biggest weakness on this team, but, outside of that, I do like the team's final 53-man roster this year as compared to last year. Bell, Bryant, and Pouncey being out hurts, but I like the youth, the special teams players throughout the roster, the punter and a kicker that can consistently put the ball out of the endzone. I hope the Steelers keep Walton and Lyons on the 53 if they truly feel that both can be good NFL DE's in the future because that seems to be the position that teams really go hunting for on practice squads (both Nick Williams and Josh Mauro made the Chiefs and Cardinals 53-man roster this year). How much better would this D-line look if you had them for depth this year?

And finally, What would you do if you are the Steelers to try and get better play out of the secondary? I would take a look at Cortez as a safety and have Boykins start opposite Gay. Will Allen would be my 3rd safety. Shamarko would have to show me that he can do it in practice, not blow assignments, before I put him on the field. I also think Doran Grant should be tried at strong safety next year in training camp, as I think that is what he is best suited for. Thoughts?

Unknown said...

I'm not thinking of next year or changing positions on guys yet. They have played one game

Dale Lolley said...

They tried to address the secondary in the draft. Took a CB in the second round who got hurt. Doran Grant wasn't in their top six CBs this season.

Again, it was one game, a game in which the defending SB champs are now 10-0. Nobody had the Steelers winning that game, let alone playing with the Patriots, which they did,

Given the overreaction of fans, I guess the Colts should fire their entire staff at halftime.

adamg said...

Carroll should be out in Seattle, too.

Birthday Boy said...

Brady's starting rb was suspended. He had only 2 talented/real weapons, and 3 rookie linemen in front of him. A decent defense would've held him to under 20. And, shazier is an lb faster than gronk. I see no reason he couldn't have been tasked with shadowing Gronk.

Birthday Boy said...
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Anonymous said...

birthday boy had obviously never seen Gronk play before. Or the pats for that matter..

freakin kam chancellor and bobby wright couldnt slow the man down

Birthday Boy said...

Not sure what you are trying to say here. I never said Gronk isn't great. And I never said that Shazier could shut him down. I stated that he is faster than Gronk, which is a fact, and I suggested that he should have been sent to cover him, rather than sending slower lb or tiny corners and safeties.

Birthday Boy said...
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