October 7, 2007

Raise Your Hand If You Think The Steelers Are For Real...


Well Steeler fans, much to our delight, the Steelers made quick work of the Seattle Seahawks today in what some (including me) billed as a rematch of Super Bowl XL. Some rematch. In case you didn't see it or hear about it, and frankly I don't even think that's possible, let me just throw this out there - 144 total yards, 38 rushing, 106 passing - that was the stat line for the Seahawks Offense today. Leading me to my first point: The Steelers Defense will kick your ass.

Shaun Alexander - 25 yards
Matt Hasslebeck - 13/27 116 yards, 0 TDs, 1 int

Contrast that with their performances from last week:

Shaun Alexander - 78 yards
Matt Hasslebeck - 23/31 288 yards, 2 TDs, 1 int

Plus, check this -
Time of Posession: Steelers - 40:45 | Seahawks - 19:15

That's just sick.

I'd say we did our job. Once again, the Steelers showed that we are for real. The loss to Arizona seems like an anomaly. Whether that is true or not, we shall see in time. For now, it just feels good to go into the bye week 4-1, firmly atop the division and among the top teams in the AFC.

With that, let the notes begin:

NEGATIVES
(yes I'm starting with negatives because positives are somewhat obvious)

  • Ike Taylor -- you gotta work on those hands brother. Yes, the bottom line is you made the pick we really needed you to make. But when you get your hands on the ball like you did twice before that, you have to bring those picks down. If there really are things we still need to work on, I'd say this is one.

  • Allen Rossum -- please do not fumble the football on kick returns, thanks. We brought you here to actually field kicks rather than drop them. 2 fumbles is not what I'd call effective. If we wanted drops we'd put Willie Reid back there. Still, I know this is not a continual problem. So I'm not worried. Just try and do better in Week 7, huh?

  • Whole Team -- penalties are unacceptable. When you're grossly controlling the game like we did today, you can get away with a few gaffes here and there. But that holding call on Willie's run in the 3rd Quarter (was it?), was killer. No penalty and that's a great play. Course, if there's no holding Willie probably wouldn't have been able to gain as much ground as he did, but I'm not going to split hairs. The message is pretty clear. 6 penalties, 64 yards. We can do better.
POSITIVES
  • Najeh "Deuce" Davenport -- you touchdown vulture, you. Maybe you should get into a domestic dispute with the mother of your child every week, because if it means the kind of day you had today, A-ok by me. Rushing Stats = 5 rushes, 58 yards and 2 TDs. Receiving Stats = 4 catches, 38 yards. You truly are a beast of a man. I'm speechless. Keep up the good work.

  • Receivers -- even without Hines Ward AND Santonio Holmes, we were able to throw the ball really well. Cedric Wilson got into the game, netting 5 catches for 69 yards, a big improvement on that giant goose egg from last week. Plus, Heath Miller added 4 catches for 44 yards and a score, Nate Washington found his hands this week, grabbing 3 balls for 26 yards, and even noob Willie Reid got himself a 25 yard grab. Bravo gentlemen. That's the kind of support we needed for Ben without our starting wideouts.

  • Big Ben -- what can I say Benny boy? We love you. 18/22 for 206 yards, 1 TD, 1 short "run" for a 1st down and ZERO interceptions. You looked great today. Making your reads, being patient in the pocket and finding the open man. Excellent. But what I loved most was your answer to the bullshit post game question - "Everyone is talking about the Patriots and the Colts, should they be talking about the Steelers?" You replied coyly, "The Patriots and Colts are both good teams. You should be talking about them." A+ answer. We haven't won the Super Bowl yet. It's a week by week effort and I think we all almost hope the media keeps their damning mits off of the feel-good Steelers story until we've really earned it. Let's continue to execute each week, you can talk about us later. Keep up the good work Ben.

  • Fast William Parker -- don't worry about Najeh getting those goal line looks. You set those up. 28 carries for 102 yards. You did good. Keep showing 'em each week why you're a star. Ain't much more to say than that...

  • James Farrior -- last but not least, every time I turned around, you were in the backfield chasing after Hasslebeck. Even at 32, you have not seemed to have lost a step. 2 sacks today, 4 on the season. 3 solo tackles and 2 assisted tackles. Keep bringing the ruckus, and show those rooks what it means to play Linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Two thumbs up.
In closing, I just want to say one thing - 47 points allowed all season, an average of less than 10 points a game. The last time we had numbers like that was 1978, when we allowed 51 total points. Also, gotta note that in 1975, we allowed only 48 total points. What do both those years have in common? Super Bowls. Does that mean we're headed for a Championship? I'm not prepared to go that far. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that we can get our guys healthy again for Week 7 against the Denver Broncos...wow, a week off...what the hell am I going to write about? I'll figure it out...hope you all enjoyed today's game. Here we go Steelers, Here we go!!

Game Recaps (as of "press time"):
[ESPN]
[Post-Gazette]
[MSN Video of Big Ben Post-Game]
[Steel City Insider]
[CBSSportsline]

10 comments:

The Chief said...

My hand is raised, my friend! I think they're for real. I hope they go into New England later this year and the Pats are undefeated - with our humbling loss to their cockiness... we stand a great chance to knock them off their high horse.

Go Stillers!!!

DrFred said...

Has anyone else noticed Willie Ried's yardage spurts after catch?

Cotter said...

Yep, he's definitely got some jets. So long as he can hold on to the ball, I'm happy.

domski43 said...

denver looked like shit vs. the chargers...fast willie should run all over them.

Anonymous said...

As always: great job on your blog. Yopu are one of the more articulate Steeler bloggers i've found and i always look forward to your mix of humor and poignant commentary. Who'da thunk ya live in the Big Apple(?)

Our(Steelers) performance this week was nearly perfect. Sure, we had a few gaffes as you poinyted out but the ooverall effect was a showing worthy of the talent, experience and determination on that team.

I still chalk up the loss at Arizona to Whiz' and Grimm's intimate knowledge of the players and their individual tendencies in executing plays. However, i think both coaches still feel enough loyalty and affection for the (majority) of our roster to be silent about those advantaes. Neither would share that knowledge with the rest of the league, IMHO. I still say, based on 'Zona's win this week, that they are real contenders for postseason play and we may see them again this year. I ain't sayin' where....just think about it. If so: more power to them. They are the only team i (almost) wouldn't mind givin' one up to.

On the downside of out Stillers: I still don't get the impression that Ben and his various recievers spend much extra time working on timing/chemistry. the few drops we've seen these last few weeks imply to me that Mr. Roethlisberger might be a little under-inclined to go the extra mile to work with his catchers when his primaries are out. Just a thought.

As you said: Najeh is FINALLY starting to run like a BIG, BIG MAN. That was the reason we signed him last year but he got caught up trying to compete with Willie for quicks. He's fast, but he needs to use that 250+ body like our favorite Bus did: as a road-grader.

And can Coach T PLLLLLEEEEAAAASSSEEEE use Mr. Dan Kreider as a blocking fullback? Why has no one else noticed Willie's drop-off in big plays since Dan's being pulled out of the main part of the O?

All that said, ANYTIME a team blanks an opponent in the NFL it is a good sign. J. Farrior(a NY Jets throw-off, mind-you!) is a stalwart workhorse and very cerebral player who never seems to get the attention he deserves, on or off the feild.

I'm a little dubious about Larry Foote. He has moments, but also sems to slip on inside coverages of TE's a lot. He's a bit undersized and although very tenacious i think he could be a weak spot down the road.

I too have noticed that the media, as usual, seem to consider Pittsburgh overrated. And i agree with you(our illustrious blogger) and Ben that we should remain so until/unless we have more shiny, circular pieces of proof of our dominance. Then let the smack-talk pour down.

Blog on, Black-n-Gold bro. Blog on.

Cotter said...

Thanks for the kind words! It means a lot to know that you enjoy the blog, even if it is sometimes less than coherent. And YES, I live in the general New York City area, but don't hold that against me. PA is always in my heart.

I'm right there with you on Kreider. I've been thinking that since they were kicking around the idea of reducing his playing time in favor of Carey Davis. Listen, Davis isn't going to get a lot of carries, so why not keep the bulk of the fullback duties with Kreider. I could write volumes on the subject...

As for Ben and the receivers - I think the fact that he and Santonio are on the same page is a good sign. But that said, ideally you would like him to have that kind of chemistry with all of our regular wideouts. And now that Nate Washington and Cedrick Wilson have been just that for a couple years now, it's time to get consistent. Agree wholeheartedly.

But you know what. As we win, we will build rapport and confidence. Right now we're in a very good position and by all accounts we're going to work hard to maintain our momentum through the bye week into our matchup with Denver. While the Chargers made the Broncos look like shit this weekend, any team with Champ Bailey, Dre Bly and John Lynch still worries me. On the flip side, how often will we really need to throw? Great year for Stiller football...

Anyways, thanks again and hope you keep enjoying the blog!

domski43 said...

Personally, I like the way the steelers are using Krieder and Davis...Unlike Krieder, Davis can pound the rock on short yardage situations, catch the ball out of the backfield, as well as break loose in the open field. Not saying that Krieder doesnt sneak a few big catches a year, but he also drops the ball often. We are seeing less and less fullback play in general for the steelers because we are using a lot of 3 tight end sets. Nothing is better than having the lead going into the 4th quarter and putting in a fresh Krieder to wear down the defense. Whichever way you look at it the Steelers now have depth at the fullback position, and as we saw versus Seattle, interchangeable parts is imperative in the nfl. Actually, the running game has been improved this year. If you can remember back to the past few years Willie was running for 2 yards, 1 yard, 4 yards, -3 yards, then he would break a 60 yard run. This year, Willie is averaging more yards per carry, which creates less 3rd and long passing situations for the offense and less chances for ben to throw interceptions while forcing the ball into tight areas.

I dont think the wide receiver situation is a problem with chemistry, I think nate washington's hands are inconsistent. Due to Washington's size, jumping ability, and supposed flashes of greatness (in practice)he gets some playing time and is on and off game to game. Cedric Wilson has been clutch all year and all of the wide outs have gained valuable game experience without Hines in the line up. I hope this progression continues when Ward returns. Our wide out position would be explosive! In reality, Big Ben is no Tom Brady or Peyton Manning. By this I mean he cannot throw the ball more than 30-35 times a game without multiple picks and the Steelers usually lose when this happens. I also mean that Ben doesnt consistently throw the ball in such a way that allows his receivers to run after the catch. I think his style of quarterbacking fits the steelers run first, throw off the play action pass offense perfectly. His ability to do everything it takes to win the game (run, block, elude potential tacklers, and create on the fly)makes him a great quarterback, but not a "pure" passer.

Cotter said...

All I'm going to say is - how many times have we handed the ball off to/thrown to the fullback this season? If the justification for Davis is that he can "pound the rock," why not give it to Najeh instead? I just think we're not using that position to move the ball but rather to block and if so, put your best blocker forward, which I think is Kreider. Alternatively 3 TE sets - I think that's great, show me even more.

As for Ben and the receivers - I agree that he's no Peyton Manning (much to my chagrin) or Tom Brady, but I think if maybe he had a better rapport with the receivers they could make adjustments to help him make plays that might have otherwise been the picks you so fondly bring to our attention. But really, I see both sides, and I am in no way recommending we throw any more than we do now.

Bottom Line: I actually like the offense. Now if you'll excuse me I have a headache. I need some friggin advil...

Anonymous said...

Domski:

A good point about having a fresh Kreider in the second half. However, I'm thinking(maybe unfairly of the Bus) that when he started and played full games our running attack was a lot more consistent. Why not use Davis as the switch-up?

On another note- i'm not sure if it was my typographical errors that were incoherent or something else but i'll try to be more concise....

As far as the idea that Ben is no Tom Brady: i could argue that, but not effectively until he wins a few more rings and shows more consistency in "big-game" situations. I will remind all that he did break all the MAC records at Miami-O in passing and was primarily a passer there (30-40 atts. per game). The man can throw.

On the other hand i still maintain that Ben doesn't give me the impression that he is as much a film-room/braniac type as a Brady or P-Manning. Both those guys show over and over that they have a great understanding of defenses and tendencies. More film time and some real old-scholl coaching-up could put Ben in that category, IMHO.

It's great to see our TE's get more work. Speath is a monster at 6'7", 275+ and could easily fill in at tackle as a blocker. He was also a record-breaker in college. Plus, TE is the new WR in the AFC the last couple years thanks to Gates and Gonzalez(sp?).

Defensively i t occured to me that the Wee-hawks were confounded by the ability of both Hoke and Carter. Maybe they expected less from "backups", not realizing either of those two are starter-quality anywhere in the NFC.

Domski also made a great point about Willie's improvement on a play-by-play basis. He's gaining 2-4 yards every touch, and still breaking it regularly. With a little luck and some good vibes the O-line will improve and the run game with it. Look for a career year from Parker if that happens.

As always, great blog, keep at it and I'm spreading the word!

TM

domski43 said...

anonymous

i agree with you that ben could be more focused in his preparation (working with receivers outside/after practice, more film work..ect.) And (good point) he did light it up through the air in college. But, remembering back to Ben's first season where he had a heavy reliance on the run game, the defense, and the plays on his wrist band he has progressed a lot and is still very young with loads of valuable experience.