October 26, 2007

I Hear 5-2 Is A Whole Lot Cooler Than 4-3...


Here we are, just a short two days from a showdown at Paul Brown...how poetic. I was thinking this morning - Man, I really should probably do some sort of game preview...or something...beyond what I did on Tuesday. But you know, then I got to thinking - don't we pretty much know what we need to do on Sunday? I mean I could sit here and speculate about it, but it isn't going to be a whole lot different than most of our games so far.

Of course, what would Friday be without a game preview for all yinz Stiller lovers? After all, it is the Bungles. And they do have a better offense than every team we've played thus far. So despite my initial hesitation, I'm going to make a few points below. Maybe you'll agree, maybe you won't. That's the beauty of sports blogging. Either way, I love to hear what other fans think. Hence, if it strikes your fancy, leave a comment and get in the mix.

Here are my "things we probably SHOULD do on Sunday":

OFFENSE

  • Run the god damn ball. Ok, now all you fans who think I'm going to say "we should just pound them into submission," give me a minute (or two) to explain. One way or another, we need to get Willie at least 22 carries. Fact is, we can't really "pound" them into submission in the true sense because FWP just ain't that kind of back. But when Willie gets the ball 22+ in a game, we almost always win.

  • That said, we need to deploy a balanced offensive attack. It can't be too run heavy, can't be too pass heavy. It's just a general rule. Balanced offense wins games. I think we'd be apt to game plan similar to what we did in the 2nd half against Denver. Some short passes, not necessarily screens but maybe FWP screens, continue to utilize the tight ends, and maybe find Santonio deep once or twice. But the "home run ball" cannot become the be all and end all. Everyone likes heroics, but even more so, everyone likes to WIN. We don't need to go slinging the ball 30 yards on every other play. Plus, a mix of runs and shorter passes controls the clock. Something we ought to do also.
DEFENSE
  • Stop the Bengals passing machine. We don't need another Kimo Von Oelhoffen incident to shut these guys down. Just play OUR game. Rush Carson Palmer. Get in his face. Just make sure we're covering those twin pillars Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmanzadeh. Also, don't forget how to stop the run...that'd be nice. Plus, can we please try and improve on our 3rd down defensive efficiency? Please don't allow them to convert consecutive 3rd and longs this week. Please. Thanks.

  • Let's see some more LaMarr Woodley. I'm not saying start him, not by any means. But as Mike Tomlin says "it's a game of attrition." So to avoid some of that fatigue, let's rotate Woodley in a little more often. Maybe even see what Timmons can do. Depth is key, and we're blessed to have a lot of it. We should see some more of William Gay with McFadden still nursing his high ankle sprain. So that should be nice also. The more these guys taste regular season action, the better prepared they will be for when they do start.
WHOLE TEAM
  • No stupid penalties. Minimize the offsides and holding. No special teams penalties. Play the game like you know it should be played. Be calm, cool and under control and you will be efficient. Or just go out and kick their ass. Your choice, I don't discriminate.

  • Put some breathing room between us and the Ravens, who are on a bye. The Ravens are 4-3, with god awful 0-2 division and 1-3 conference records. As opposed to our 4-2 overall, and 1-0 division and 2-1 conference records. It don't gotta be pretty, but one way or another, we need another win, and another division win to start pulling away. You know what, let me put it another way - if we lose to the Bengals and the Browns beat the Rams, the BROWNS(!) would move into 1st in the division. We can NOT let that happen.
But while the match ups may look good on paper, that doesn't mean the Bengals are just going to lie down for us, unfortunately. Right now they are 2-3. That ain't good. We took these guys out of playoff contention in our last meeting, and they may not have forgotten (though Cincy is used to losing so maybe they have). The year before that, we ended their playoff run by striking a deathblow to their offense in the AFC Wild Card game (see image here). And we've generally just owned the Bungles in recent years. So while this is all nice to reminisce about, it means the Bungles have a LOT to play for on Sunday.

The Steelers need to execute. Play disciplined football. Improve on what we've done already this season. And above all, get a freaking win and remind Cincy and everyone else who's boss in the AFC North.

Here we go Stillers!!

7 comments:

Black&Gold Girl said...

We have to run the ball and run it early. I don't mind if we come out throwing in the first drive, but we need to remain balanced. If you don't run, you can't throw.

I agree with the Woodley and Gay part. They're both beasts. Woodley should be a started by next season.

I think the Denver loss was so upsetting that Tomlin will have this team very well prepared, especially mentally. We can't beat ourselves.

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

Run the ball, control the clock, get the defense off the field, run the ball some more, maintain control of the clock, get the defense off the field.

Woodley should definitely get more playing time. Knock the crap out of Palmer.

The Ravens have a bye week, but they are in turmoil coming off a bad loss to Buffalo, and with Ray Lewis publicly griping about Billick and the offense. I like that, but …

“If we lose to the Bengals and the Browns beat the Rams, the BROWNS(!) would move into first in the division.”

That is a horrible thought.

Tobiathan said...

Ball (and clock) control seems to be our biggest problem so far this year. Maybe it's a delayed Jerome Bettis hangover. Maybe the team just hasn't found it's overall rhythm. I'm not sure.

I just know that while the offense seems to be more productive and explosive so far this year it still seems to have a problem on the dink-and-dunk runs and passes that were our bread-n-butter for the last ten years.

When we figured out that we can throw the ball deep effectively(combined with FWP's explosiveness) i think it took us out of our timing in a slow, methodical, time-eating offense. We need to get back to that. Keep the opponents defense on the feild, run it down their throats. I believe that the combination of Willie and Najeh can be effective at this if given the chance.

And Cotter is right: our defense needs to tighten up. Injuries or not we have enough talent on that side of the ball to be effective with whomever is on the feild. No more excuses or stupid penalties.

I believe in Tomlin, and this team. I admit that i might be overly-critical of them in light of the Pats/Colts success to date. However, the AFC is by far the more competitive conference and our guys need to step it up a notch to keep their playoff footing.

Again, i say let those other two teams take all the publicity. I think the Steelers play better as underdogs. Madden popinted out last week that FWP looks for reasons to prove his critics wrong. I think the rest of the team would do well to follow that lead.

And, again, I say Big Ben needs to start leading from the front, being more vocal and generally become more involved in the second-by-second nature of this game. He seems detached and complacent at times. I know he has a fire in his heart. He should let it burn. Or, were all those nay-sayers who called him over-rated actually right?

Sure, i've been hard on Ben. But he's a really, really young guy to have had all the success he has. If no one points out to him that it only gets harder as the years go by he might not realize it until it's too late. And yes: i believe he reads this blog, my comments and acts on every word. Seriously.

OK. Maybe not. But he should.

My two cents here. Great work as usual Cotter. Always count on you to have some coherent thoughts on the subject of Steeler Football!

Go Stillers!

T

domski43 said...

i agree with tobiathan about laying low, while the pats and colts get all the attention (which they rightly deserve). The steelers' main focus needs to stay on simply winning the AFC North. As we have seen in the past, the steelers just need to make the playoffs..from there ANYTHING can happen.

Even though the bengals and ravens have been less than impressive this year it still worries me that we have to play both of these teams twice. If you look at the teams the steelers have beat this season the browns and the seahawks were by far the best. (scatch my head) 4-2 is a good start, but by losing to Arizona and Denver on the same weeks that the Ravens lost really could bite the steelers in the ass later this season. We still have a cake schedule, besides jax and the pats, but the focus needs to stay on beating the ravens, browns, and cincy. Lets hope this happens starting tomorrow.

Cotter said...

Gents, I couldn't agree more. All you need to do is make the playoffs. So what if the Pats and Colts go 16-0? As soon as you're in, you're 0-0 again, and it's anyone's game. Suck on Tom Brady and Peyton Manning's respective what have yous all you want. No one wins the Super Bowl by just being really good during the regular season. The Steelers are clutch. If they make it in, they will have the motivation and dedication to be competitive.

As for Big Ben, I think he's doing a good job of leading the team but I do think he could acknowledge some of the mistakes better. I wasn't too keen on his "live by the sword, die by the sword" comments this past week. He's right, but at this point, he's talking like he's Dan Marino. I'd rather have heard him say "we can do better" then go out and do it. Still, I think he and the team will. And again, as Tobiathan points out, he's a young guy, he'll be fine.

Let's get a god damn win tomorrow and knock 'em around a bit! Who dey?

Anonymous said...

Pretty funny pic Cotter ;-)

Cotter said...

Thanks anonymous. Nice screen name...