December 20, 2007

Grab The Bull Ram By The Horns...

"We play 16 games. They’re all important. We’ve got to be where we are, live in the moment, prepare to be the very best that we can be in the opportunity in front of us. That’s the nature of it...I want to dig hard all the time, whether we see the light or no. That’s what good, hardened, top-caliber football teams do."
- Mike Tomlin
Here we are, Thursday morning and it must be gameday again, because The Prophet is gracing the upfront of today's post. Doesn't quite seem like it's been long enough, does it? Well, unfortunately, that ain't for us to decide. So today it is. The Steelers head into the Edward James Dome tonight to do battle with the 3-11 St. Louis Rams, and hopefully come out the other side with a win and the accompanying playoff berth...hopefully...

Injuries? Yep, we got some of those. Looks like Face Me Ike's still got some Face Me pain in his knee - and while Dr. Coach Tomlin seems to think he'll be fine, there's a chance McFadden will start at Corner in his place. Also, Marvell Smith is a little less than 100% with that back thing he's had going on this season. Hence, the suddenly capable Max Starks will likely be starting at Left Tackle for Smith. And finally, both odd man out LB Clark Haggans and replacement End Travis Kirschke are "limited" and "may or may not" be able to take the field. In the event neither does, we shall most likely see LaMarr Woodley and Nick Eason respectively in their place(s). What impact will this have? God only knows. After the last couple of weeks I'm not trying to predict anything (these don't get any funnier folks...sorry).

Moving on, as has been the case in recent past - we've also got a few records that could be broken this week. Of course we shouldn't be focused on breaking records so much as we should be focused on breaking Rams faces, but I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention these potential milestones. They are (in no particular order):
  1. A victory secures the Steelers 1st road win against the Rams in team history. Oh, and it also secures us a playoff spot. No pressure.
  2. With 103 yards passing, Big Ben can break the 3,000 yard mark for the 2nd straight season, tying a team record and generally making Neil O'Donnell jealous. Bonus.
  3. 42 more receiving yards and Hines Ward moves into sole possession of the Steelers all time lead in the category. Consequently, 50 more receiving yards and we'll all see that patented Hines Ward shit eating grin.
  4. Fast William Everette Parker needs 177 more rushing yards to surpass his season high mark of 1,494, set last year. You think he can get it all in one game? Let's hope so...that'd be pretty awesome.
  5. 1 measly point and Jeff Reed has 100 on the year, which would make it 5 straight seasons with 100 points or more for our resident party boy place kicker extraordinaire. Also, 3 more beers funneled and __________ (you fill in the blank).
But like I say, none of these matter to us Steeler fans if the team can't eke out a win tonight and solidify our playoff hopes.

So the real question is, as it is every week - what SHOULD the Steelers do in order to win this game. As far as I'm concerned, the answer(s) is as follows:

  • What Do You Think I'm Going To Say? ~ RUN. THE. FOOTBALL. Willie Parker gets at least 22 carries, we win. That's all I'm saying. Last week we dug ourselves a 15 point hole, which to an extent, limited the number of times we could give the ball to our hot hand. Even still, FWP had 14 carries for 100 yards. Like I said earlier this week - 4 or 5 more carries and you better bet Willie's breaking one of those for just a bit more than 20 yards. Get the Memo Arians, you dick.

  • Play Action Pass...Beuller? Beuller? ~ What's the complement to a good running game? A little play action maybe? By my count, we haven't seen nearly enough of it this season. So tonight, once Willie gets going, which hopefully will happen, let's see a few play action passes to, I don't know, Heath Miller maybe? Hines Ward? Santonio, deep? Any and all. Mix it up. Use some deception. Just because it's a logical way to do things doesn't mean we can't do it. Dial it up Arians, you dick.

  • Cut That Play Clock Shit Out ~ Ben - you are not a Colt. Nor a Patriot. Hence, you do not have the protection from your Offensive Line that would allow you to run the play clock down to :01 before snapping the ball and expect to escape harm every time. When you do that, they know when you're snapping the ball and can get a better jump. O-line - I'd say protect Ben, but we all know that's a pipe dream at this point. I don't mind the no huddle. In fact, I kind of like it for us. But the whole idea of it is to catch the other team off guard. Don't get predictable when you're trying to be unpredictable. Got it Arians, you dick?
  • Show Me Something ~ Really, I'll take anything promising. But particularly, I'd like to see some sacks and some turnovers. Last week, no sacks. The week before, no sacks. Pressure Marc Bulger and hit him when you get the chance! Further, if/when you get sufficient pressure on him such that he makes bad decisions, capitalize. If a ball comes your way, catch it. Simple stuff. Sort it out Troy, I know we can count on you.

  • Quit Jaggin' Around ~ For god's sake, please get off the field on 3rd down. It'll only be better for you in the end to play a little harder then, get some rest and be fresh for the next set of downs. Also, consistency would be nice. Play hard for 60 minutes, not just 58. I know it's not likely that you'll have the same problem you had last week or in Denver. But you never know. Bottom Line - you're still arguably the top Defense in the league, play like it. It's damn near playoff time.

  • Stop. Steven. Jackson. ~ I think it's sort of been implied already, and it's certainly the most obvious of the bunch. But just in case you didn't read it between the lines, our best Defensive bet to secure victory is to shut Steven Jackson down. Now, this ain't gonna be easy. The guy just ripped through Green Bay's Defense (which isn't exactly terrible) for 143 yards four days ago, while the entire Rams passing game only managed 219 yards. Sure, the Rams still have some great weapons on the outside. But as we know all too well, it's much harder for a team to beat you when you force them to be one dimensional (unless that team is the 2007 New England Patriots). Get it done. Step up Nick Eason. Show us what you're made of...
And that's it - it's just that Honestly, I don't want to say my expectations are lowered, because I still expect this team to play like it's playoff caliber, but what I really want to see tonight is a commitment from both sides of the ball that they can beat this team (or any team) decisively. Play solid Defense, don't give up points. Be efficient on Offense, get 7 points. An over-simplificiation, yes. But it's late, I'm tired, and this post is already too long...what do you want from me?

So how about you all? What do you want to see tonight? Steven Jackson on his back? Marc Bulger on his back? Big Ben standing up? The back of Willie Parker's jersey? Have at it...

PS - Don't forget - solid Gameday Discussion here tonight, 8:15, be there or be a Browns fan.

And oh yes, and the Rams have cheerleaders. Boy are they festive...Hooray for Domes!

Key Matchups: Steelers-Rams [SteelCityInsider]
Slumping Steelers Try to Rebound in St. Louis [Associated Press]
Large Steelers Showing Expected in St. Louis [SteelCityInsider]
Steelers Notebook [Post-Gazette]
Steven Jackson vs. #3 Rush Defense [Post-Gazette]
Steelers Trying to Forget Unpleasant Memories [Post-Gazette]
Arians Rethinks Calls Against Patriots [Tribune-Review]
Steelers-Rams What to Watch For [WPXI]
Steelers Seek to Gird 'Selves vs. Rams [USA Today]
Steelers Stumbling Stretch Run [Yahoo! Sports]

Ballhype: hype it up!


Black&Gold Girl said...

I don't know why we haven't used the play action more often as well. I wrote about more play action and more TE over the middle in the red zone last week. At least we saw the TE over the middle, but I don't think I saw any play action.

It's almost a guaranteed catch every time, especially if you have a decent ground game. Plus, Big Ben has an awesome completion percentage when they run it. Dear God, please run the play action pass, preferably the bomb.

Joey Porter’s Pit Bulls said...

Play-action makes too much sense. It's not fancy enough for Arians.

Cotter said...

Precisely - if it makes sense, then it ain't for Arians, master of the head scratchers...

Honestly, I'm not that dissatisfied with him overall. But the consistency of those plays that make you go - what the F - certainly is puzzling. If he just starts by establishing the fundamentals I think that'd be nice...

Tobiathan said...

I said a couple days ago that Haggans is grossly under-achieving. I haven't really ever thought much of him. He's never done much more than show up, and if you watch him at game-time you notice he:

A- Rarely gets near the QB
B- Often gets blocked clear out of the play
C- Gets knocked down a LOT
D- Misses tackles
E- Rarely reacts to cut-back runs
F- Never gets his long da,mned arms in the air on thos swing passes
G- Does miserably in coverage
H- Has basically no goddamned business starting IMHO.

So, i'm no Haggans fan. Never have been. He's a plain, siple under-achiever who was a favorite of Cowher because of his size and great ability to look good in practice and not even show up at gametime.

If Woodley starts i look for some real surprising play from the kid. Not that i much to base it on, but after Haggans near-no-show these last few weeks anything is an improvement.

I rarely single any one guy out, but Haggans has been consistent only in his inconsistency and has drawn my ire on far more than a few occasions during games. If he plays tonight, watch and see if i'm right or wrong. I, by the way, would LOVE to be wrong on this...

Tobiathan said...

See yinz at game-time!


domski43 said... brotha....i agree, it might be time to reassess our linebacker core and get some youth in there...farrior is solid, but getting a little long in the tooth as well

timmons better grow some balls

i would like to see spaeth get involved in the offense like earlier in the season

i'll be drinkin some ihrns n'at..go stillers!